Our cattle are Scottish Highland, perhaps the oldest and most unchanged of all bovines reared for the table today. These shaggy haired cattle date back to the Viking era and are extremely hardy, shunning barns and shelters for the open air, even in the dead of winter. These animals exist as wild animals do: in concert with nature and all her elements.
|Rugged good looks on grass; you are what you eat...|
This natural state extends to what our Scottish Highlands eat as well. Cattle are beautifully crafted to graze pasture lands. As with other true ruminants such as deer, goats, bison, moose, sheep, and others, they are uniquely adapted to thrive on a natural pasture of a multitude of different plants, such as grass, legumes and forbs. The seedheads are balanced by the stalks and leaves of the forage resulting in neutral PH environment inside the animal. This also allows the animal to grow as nature intended: with deliberate pace and balance.
In the old days, cattle were routinely grown to 3, 4 and 5 years before slaughter. This allowed the animal to grow naturally on their grass based diets and reach marketable weights. Over the last few decades however, this timeline has been dramatically accelerated to the point that today's supermarket and restaurant beef is typically taken at just 14 months of age. To achieve this remarkable and unnatural growth rate, cattle are taken from their range and put into concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), also known as feedlots. Packed shoulder to shoulder and living on their manure, they are fed only concentrated grain rations, without a blade of grass in sight. This puts the pounds on quickly, but at a terrible cost to the animal and then to us. The high grain (typically genetically modified corn) concentration makes the steer's stomach very acidic and literally starts to kill him. High dose antibiotics are then utilized to literally keep the animals alive long enough that they reach their target weights and are dispatched to your supermarket, fast food joints, and 5 star restaurants. This meat is technically "beef" but it is not nutritionally good foodstuff for humans.
Another significant cost of the CAFO model is the environment. The overcrowded conditions lead to significant pollution problems dealing with the manure and urine. In addition, to produce the grain that is used as feed, many acres of land are kept in unnatural monocrop conditions which deprives the soil of proper life, water holding capability and natural diversity. These massive depleted fields cannot thrive, thus requiring heavy fertilizers to grow crops, which in turn are digested by the cattle, and of course, by consumers. These monocrops describe what most of our mid-west farms have become over the last 40 years.
Our style of ranching brings the animals out of the feedlot CAFOs, and back to a life that allows the animals to naturally thrive with very little disruption and work from man. Our ranch's best workers--our cattle, pigs, bees, wildlife, insects, worms, microbes, and bacteria--work tirelessly hour after hour, day after day, year 'round to produce the best possible soil and pasture to keep everyone in the pink of health, both on-farm and for our surrounding area.