We love our cows! Cattle are our primary tool for regeneration on the farm and they work hard for us everyday turning grass and mountain water into fertility. We precisely control their movement to mimic the natural movements of wild grazing herds. Using portable electric fencing, we move them to fresh pasture at least once a day, along with their portable water and mineral feeder. Moving the cows across the ranch this way spreads their impact and fertility evenly over the pastures, encouraging healthy plant growth and carbon sequestration while disallowing the over-grazing, nutrient pollution and compaction that comes from conventional continuous cattle grazing systems.
We are selecting for smaller-framed cows using purebred Red Angus bulls for calving ease and heat tolerance. The cows calve onto fresh green pasture in May and June, along with the deer, mountain goats and bighorn sheep in the area. Mother Nature has it right, and we’re going with it. In late summer we begin carefully planning our grazing to stockpile as much standing forage on the farm as possible, which we then ration out over the winter to extend our grazing season well into the new year. What little hay we do need we are able to buy from local certified organic farms. Because the cows have a chance to recover their body condition on spring grass before calving, we are able to winter calves with their mothers, postponing the stress of weaning until the calves are older. When we do wean, we use a multi-stage process to reduce weaning stress on both cows and calves to a minimum.
Our cattle have never licked up even a taste of grain, and they sure do seem to enjoy their 100% grass-fed diet, although ‘grass-fed’ is a little misleading since they thrive on all the diversity our organic pastures offer — clover, alfalfa, dandelion, mustard, and much more… Even apples when they’re lucky! We would never consider using any growth hormones in our herd, and we don’t use any systemic insecticides, routine antibiotics or anything else either. Instead, we select for cows that thrive under organic management and can finish beautifully on forage alone. We can see the difference in our herd health, calving ease, and in the pastures. One bite into a Spray Creek burger or roast and you’ll taste the pasture-raised difference too!