All About Our Grass Management for Our Grass-Fed Beef
Our Highland beef is of the highest quality. Grass raised and finished in the lush grass of the Skagit River Valley we think of the end product beginning at the beginning- in our soil. The Skagit River drains the North Cascade mountains and over the span of time has brought those minerals down out of the craggy mountains and laid them in the soft silt of the valley. With no rocks or clay to compete with grass grows tall and lush. Even in the middle of a long dry summer, our fields maintain their greenness thanks to the depth that these grass roots can reach down to.
We practice intensive rotational grazing so that the cows are in and out of cross fenced fields before the ground has a chance to get impacted. This allows all the beneficial microbes of the soil to have a good air exchange under ground as well as access the rich mineralized manure that our cows lay down. Thus our grass grows tall and recovers from being grazed quickly. We clip the remaining standing grass that then lies on the ground providing cover as shade for the soil as well as dwelling places for the small critters of the field. Our fields are a salad bowl of different vegetation and wildlife and the cows feed it with their manure as they graze. This is truly a symbiotic relationship and a well managed pasture is a thing of beauty and life!
But summer cannot last forever and we have learned that it is what you do with your grass when it is NOT growing that matters even more than what you are doing when it is. Because our soil is so rich it absorbs moisture easily. But in late winter the soil becomes saturated and our water table rises to surface level. To put animals on this ground would be to churn it into a mud pit. So we have reserved a sacrifice area- a portion of our land that we sacrifice to the cows during the winter time. We lay down a deep layer of wood chips and we feed our cows large round bales made the previous summer. These large, marshmallow shaped, plastic wrapped round bales are actually full of pickled grass which is excellent for their microbial loving rumens. The cows also have a sacrifice field which is a dry, non-muddy place for them to lie in. I often look at this field with sorrow as it is never as lush as the other fields in the summer and I am grateful that we limit our cow's access to the land in winter so that everything can rest, rejuvenate, and re-grow with gusto the following spring. Without this grass we cannot grow the best beef in the world.
I cannot eat this grass and benefit from it but my cows can! And the beef they provide our family and those we sell to is sustainable, restorative, and good.