Raising our own beef is a new endeavor for us here at Red Gate Farm.  After years of researching cattle husbandry methods, and studying the health benefits unique to grass-fed and finished beef, we decided to take the plunge and raise our own.

We started with the purest calves we could–we bought 2 cows with 2-month calves on their side.  One cow is a pure Lowline, and the other is a 50% registered Lowline.  Both calves were sired by a purebred Lowline bull.  The calves have had nothing but milk, grass, and supplemental kelp and minerals since they were born.  They came from a grass-fed farm, where no growth hormones or preventative antibiotics were used.  We brought them to our farm, where the calves will be raised on our lush, mixed-grass pastures, as next year’s beef.  The cows, meanwhile, will be re-bred to hopefully produce beef calves for the following year as well.  It’s really as simple as that. The cattle are rotated through our pasture, ensuring they won’t be grazing parasite-infested paddocks or pugging our land.

cows

You might ask why we would raise our own as opposed to just purchasing our beef from the grocery store?

Most cattle today are born on large ranches and open spaces.  About 6-8 months before slaughter, they are rounded up, trucked to a feedlot, where thousands of cattle are placed in small, manure filled, holding and feeding pens.  They are routinely fed waste products from the human food industry, such as unmarketable candy and brewer’s waste.  They are also typically fed a pre-mixed “cattle” ration designed to increase their protein levels, weight gain, and marbling (fat).  This ration too often contains ground up dead cows (no joke), chicken litter from CAFO poultry houses, and lots and LOTS of genetically modified corn.  The smell alone made these facilities absolutely revolting.  What these herbivores are typically NOT fed is grass.  No pasture, no hay.  As a result, their guts become very acidic and their entire system is stressed.  To prevent disease, their feed contains preventative antibiotics.  All these factors combine to create the dangerous E-coli bacteria that winds up contaminating the meat and causing so many illnesses in people today. We lived for several years in Colorado, where we were able to see many of these feedlots personally.  They were such depressing places, and it pained me to see the boredom and depression in the eyes of the cattle held in those pens.  These factors all combine to give us the conviction that we should stop supporting the CAFO industries (by purchasing the resulting beef), and raise our own plus one or two to share.  Studies have proven grass fed beef is so much better—both in taste and health benefits–than standard grain-finished beef.  Raising our own is the best way to ensure the cattle are treated properly, able to freely graze as herbivores should, and that the resulting beef we eat is pure, safe, and nutritious.

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