We raise a variety of non-gmo heritage grains (barley, oats, wheat) as well as non-gmo corn on our farms for a couple important reasons: 1) nutrient recycling and 2) business risk.
- Nutrient recycling: We rotate crops across our acreage to recycle nitrogen and carbon. Certain crops (legumes) deposit nitrogen into the soil naturally: clover, alfalfa, soybeans. They're also a great source of protein.
- Grass + legume complementarity: Grasses consume nitrogen. Grasses are not a great source of protein but rather carbon. Carbon is important for the microorganisms that live inside a cow's rumen. Low grass = low counts of microorganisms; low microorganisms = sick cattle. Happy and healthy microorganisms mean happy and healthy cows. This is the central point to why grass is important to ruminants (cattle & sheep). We run a 2:1 ratio of legume:grass ratio.
- Rotational grazing: This is where we allow cattle to graze a fenced-in area and then move them onto the next "paddock" once they've mowed it down. This creates a robust pasture but also spreads fertilizer evenly back over the pasture.
- Business risk: Because we live in a climate that gives us a wide-range of weather and a short growing season, we need to protect ourselves against extremes. Through rotational grazing and crop rotation, we are constantly adding vigor and organic matter to our soil. Higher organic matter = greater buffering capacity against extremes and greater soil vitality.
- Soil + water + ecosystem health: We don’t plant gmo crops nor similar varieties such as neonicotinoids. We want clean water and vibrant symbiotic ecosystems such as bee and worm colonies.
Farming As Nature Intended
Sometimes the pasture is a frozen tundra but we believe that ruminant animals are best suited to move freely across pasture, drink clean water, and be treated humanely. Our hogs are free-raised outdoors in the warm months and provided shelter and deep-bedded pens in the winter.
Animal welfare is centrally important to us. If it's important to you, please know that we're on the same page. There is NO animal rights organization that cares more about livestock welfare than us. Animals provide us a living - we don't receive our sustenance via donations through infomercials - so rest assured, we treat our animals with dignity.
At Peterson Craft Meats, our animal husbandry and farming practices center around giving our livestock a safe and healthy place to live, improving the land each year, and ensuring our financial viability as a family farm. The majority of our feedstuffs are pasture and hay. Our hay is managed organically but it's not certified. We feed a wide varitety of non-GMO grains (wheat, barley, oats, corn, canola) in our program.
Cattle: our cattle are free raised & grazed on pasture. We never restrict pasture access, we want them to be able to roam and graze as they were built to do. In the winter months, we ensure complete access to hay and other roughage. Cattle receive straw bedding and windbreaks for comfort during cold winter days. We supplement a portion-restricted mixed-grain feed during the finishing phase. The supplement consists of non-GMO grains (corn, brewers grain, wheat, barley, and oats). It's important to note that we NEVER restrict grass during any phase. We supplement our cattle to assist in marbling and the quality of the carcass.
Limousin cattle have been a part of our family’s tradition since the 1970s. We remain purebred breeders today. We also are committed to bringing you the best product possible, which is why we have incorporated cross breeding in to our herd. We are always looking for ways to improve the genetics of our herd which consists of Limousin, Limousin-cross, and crossbred animals.
- Hogs: pigs that enter our pork program are free-raised & roam within an expansive outdoor pen filled with trees and nut brushes. We are working on an expansion to a forest-based hog-raising operation later in 2020. Our hogs can root, explore, and relax in comfort. We feed a diet that is mostly comprised of small grains. We feed canola meal (no soy), cracked corn, wheat and barley. We also recycle composted leftover food from a local restaurant (The Watershed Cafe) and feed that weekly to our hogs. Most of our hogs are Berkshire x Yorkshire crossed. Designed to blend the carcass quality of the Berkshire breed with the prolificity and production of Yorkshire.
Lamb: although we don’t raise the sheep ourselves, we expect our partners to align with our standards to minimize stress, provide ample animal comfort and deliver genetically superior carcasses. Thus, our lamb represents a diet very similar to our cattle and the expectation of quality care stands, too. We work with 4-H families that we’ve known over the years. Most of our lamb is Suffolk-cross.
We employ safe handling practices when handling all livestock. This includes chutes and systems designed to reduce nervousness and anxiety. We give ample room to maneuver for decision making. We do not use any hot shots or sharp objects.
Each of our carcasses undergoes a proprietary dry-aging process (via relative humidity, temp, air flow) before breakdown. By controlling the entire process we can ensure quality from harvest to packaging.
We welcome visits to the farm. Early summer is perfect for demonstration because of the beginning of the growing season. Please note: we’re restricting farm tours during Covid-19 to prevent virus spread.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are you 100% grass fed beef?
We are not 100% grass fed. We implement two biological systems (managed organically): crop rotation & rotational grazing. We utilize non-gmo grains/grasses (oats, corn, wheat, barley) in rotation with our pasture legumes (pink clover, alfalfa). We use the grains for feed, bedding, and key nutrient recycling as part of a regenerative soil system. Our cattle graze legume/grass pastures while building soil/sod.
What does “free-raised & grazed” mean?
Free-raised & Grazed is our regenerative agriculture term to best describe our animal husbandry and stewardship practices. We keep our livestock in their natural environments whenever possible. Given the dormant nature of winter, we are not able to graze year-round but we ensure ample, clean space.
Are you certified organic?
We are not certified organic. We manage our pastures organically but we do not use certified organic seeds for crop production. However, we raise non-gmo cereal grains/grasses. We do not administer synthetic growth hormones nor feed antibiotics to our livestock.