Bringing Livestock Back to the Land
OUR CATTLE - BREED: BRITISH WHITE, ANGUS, SOUTH POLL
We love our cattle! They do amazing things for the soil and are a joy to get to work with. Our original cow group came from Gabe Brown author of Dirt to Soil and a leader of the Regenerative Ag Movement. We also have genetics from other leaders such as Christina Traeger, Gail Fuller, Mark and Annette Thomas, and Greg Judy. All are leaders in grassfed genetics.
Our cows give birth in May and June naturally, on pasture, unassisted. They nurse and protect their young and are not threatened by our presence. Our cows are required to give birth, nurse, protect, and bring their calves to 10 months of age when they are weaned without our intervention. This no excuses management practice has created a herd adapted to 100% Grassfed, no drugs, and no intervention. It is a holistic approach to what is best for the herd, the land, and us as farmers. No 3 AM calf pulling in a blizzard happens at our farm.
In addition to their excellent motherly qualities, our cattle perform exceptionally well on our pasture and cover crops, are adapted to moving frequently, and are trained to stay within their paddock with a single strand of poly wire anywhere they are. Our cattle know us, trust us, and respect us and we do the same. We never raise our voices in anger, hit, or act aggressively to our herd. If they are not doing what we would like them to do, we realize it is our fault, not theirs. Either our lack of training or something is setup incorrectly to get the behavior we are seeking. These amazing creatures are very predictable and love routine. We do everything to work with their instincts and preferences to make sure they always are living a great life.
Instead of giving our herd grains, mixed rations, antibiotics, de-wormers, hormones, insecticides, and immunizations, we give our herd fresh grazing areas called paddocks EVERY day. By keeping our cattle grouped together and moving across the landscape in a planned manner, we mimic the grazing behaviors of native ruminants such as bison, deer, elk and mammoth. Before man’s domestication of livestock, animals didn’t stay in the same place 365 days a year waiting for a meal to be fed to them and hoping someone would haul the manure away. Instead, they stayed in large groups, close together, eating-walking-defecating. They are always walking forward to get the best bite before their neighbor does and then leaving the area for a period of time allowing the grasses to regrow. Our Management Intensive Grazing practices mimic these natural movements of millions of animals with our small herd.
Bringing Livestock back to the Land(™) is THE answer for soil health, plant health, animal health and human health. Soil carbon improves substantially by taking Carbon Dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it in the soil where it helps plants thrive and the water cycle function to improve. Healthier, higher nutrient content plants protect and prosper animals. All of which creates a nutrient dense meat that you get to enjoy. Everything revolves around the soil and how we steward it. Our cattle are the key to regenerating our soil to the nutrient rich status it once had when this was a tall grass prairie and oak savannah.
It’s a difference you will taste on your plate and a difference you can see on our farm tours.
OUR MEAT CHICKENS - BREED: FREEDOM RANGER
This bird is deep red in color and was selected because they are great foragers of bugs and grass. Living on pasture provides a great life for them while at the same time they are doing great things for the soil. They come to us as baby chicks and start off in our brooder. The brooder is designed to give them the comfort and protection they need during the delicate first few weeks. When they are ready for more space we move them into the “Big House”.
Our open air mobile hoop house protects them from predators and gives them the shelter and daylight that they naturally want. It holds 600 chickens and is pulled onto fresh grass each day keeping the floor fresh while leaving the “fertilizer” behind. Using some ingenuity with our homemade remote controlled winch, we move the house forward while keeping all the chickens safe from the moving building. Take a tour of the chicken house here https://www.gratefulgraze.com/post/chicken-coop-tour
Their grass and foraging diet is supplemented with organic grains to satisfy their needs. They are quite safe and comfortable in the open air, grass floor of this building. Another layer of defense is our guard dog, Sam. He keeps watch over the perimeter of the hoop house so the chickens can remain calm.
OUR SHEEP - BREED: KATAHDIN
Our sheep bring another level of diversity to our farm eating forages that the cattle might not enjoy. Katahdin sheep are a hair sheep breed which means they shed their hair like other animals. The hair drops to the ground where many birds find it and use it in nest building.
Having a coat of hair that sheds in the spring eliminates the need for shearing that is done on wool sheep. Wool demand is low and shearing takes extra time and expense to do. Plus, our hair sheep produce much less lanolin compared to wool sheep which can cause an off flavor in the meat.
This breed is very well adapted to our weather patterns and live their entire lives in the pasture and lamb without assistance. We look forward to new lambs bouncing around the pasture every spring!
OUR HENS - BREED: VARIETY
We believe in diversity and it shows with over 10 breeds of chickens for laying eggs. We receive our laying chickens from the hatchery and raise them in our own brooder until about 3-4 weeks of age.
Next stop is the pasture where they learn to call one of our egg mobiles home. We train them for 7-10 days to go inside and perch at night away from predators. In the morning, the sunlight sensors open the door and they spend the day doing what chickens do inside a 1/4 acre netted area that we move once a week. This netting is for their protection so they don’t wander off and become a predators meal!
Finally, at about 6 months of age they begin laying eggs in the nesting boxes which causes them to know the eggmobile is home. The young hens are called pullets and their eggs are small in size for about 4-6 weeks. From then on we can take down the nets and let our guardian dogs do the work of protecting them as they get moved around the pasture.
The different breeds provide us with an array of egg colors. You will find when you crack open a Grateful Graze egg the yolk is a deep dark orange color from the grasses they forage on. The whites cook beautifully in the frying pan too. We are sure you will notice and enjoy the difference!
Our Promise To You and To Our Livestock
Grain - our ruminant animals eat grass and cover crops for their entire lifetime. Any grains in our cover crop mix are grazed prior to grain formation. Chickens require grain and are fed organic grains along with fresh grass by moving their homes daily.
Hormones, Pesticide, Vaccines and Wormer - none are ever given as they aren't needed with moves to fresh paddocks. Livestock have access to oilers filled with essential oils for fly and pest control.
Antibiotics - our goal is to never administer antibiotics. However, in the event the animal requires it for an injury or illness, we will give an antibiotic and tag them with a red ear tag. This meat is then sold into a different market. Our customers never receive products that have been treated with an antibiotic.
Great Life - our livestock live a great life. We treat them with respect and allow them to flourish in their natural environment. We are committed to their care for their entire life on our farm.