"As consumer demand continues to evolve, the beef industry does too. The explosion in demand for grass finished beef continues to garner attention. Many producers are utilizing genetics that have evolved over decades geared toward feedlot performance. Those same genetics often times fail when used in a grass based system. Consumers are now demanding a healthier, flavorful, tender beef that has been raised in a more environmentally conscious manner." - Steve Campbell
Individuals are jumping off the conventional bandwagon their grandparents boarded 50 years ago, as they come to realize that industrial beef is a completely different product than Grass-Fed. The market for Grass-Fed beef is somewhere in the ballpark of 6-7% of the entire beef industry and is expected to be 30% in the next 5 years. This means there's going to be a lot of nasty tasting not really all that healthy beef being sold at a premium. A lot of disappointment and buyers remorse will inevitably ensue. Why? Because when you're paying a premium price you expect a premium product in both flavor, quality and nutrition. You're trusting a label or a story that's being presented to you without ever actually meeting or getting to know the rancher. Although it will happen in haste in order to capture a portion of that 30%, you cannot take any cow, put it on grass, let it graze for a couple months and harvest it expecting the product to be delicious and nutritious. They say the best steak and the worst steak in the world is Grass-Fed. So what does it take to produce a truly gourmet Grass-Fed product? I want to shed some light into our history and one way Bar 10 Beef is improving herd genetics in order to achieve the best of both worlds, delicious and nutritious.
A Passionate Rancher - Kelly Heaton
But first a passionate rancher is where it starts! Kelly Heaton has spent the last decade improving his, once mongrelized, herd into one of the most efficient herds in the west. Ranching on 250,000 acres of desert landscape on the north rim of the Grand Canyon would be impossible with the average cow. You see the average cow has been a part of the feedlot system for 6 decades and in most cases these cows need corn in order to get fat and stay fat. This process completely compromises the health of the cow as they require a lot of inputs just to stay alive long enough to get fat! At this point it compromises your health too because now you'll be consuming it; you are what you eat, eats. Follow me?
Of course it wouldn't be possible without great friends and mentors in whom we are incredibly grateful to rub shoulders with and learn from. Steve Campbell is a seasoned cattleman from Idaho who became inspired after hearing Gearld Fry speak. For him, it was back in 2003. He was powerfully affected by what he had heard although he was already considered to be a pretty good judge of cattle.
Steve learned from Gearld that it’s pretty easy for the eye to be fooled by living and moving animals so thus began the art of what is called LINEAR MEASUREMENT. This being pretty much exactly what it sounds like, using a tape measure or other instruments to get objective numbers from which to make basic decisions. Steve then set off with a set of measuring tools from Gearld whereupon he commenced to measure thousands of cows, bulls and steers. Steve found that one of the most impressive facets of livestock production is how few US cattle actually stack up statistically. No wonder we have such a hard time getting cattle to breed properly, no wonder we have such trouble getting cattle to fatten on natural forages.
Take a look around the next time you drive past some cows, they're likely going to be skinny even though they eat all day. Bar 10 Beef started by traveling all over the country and to different parts of the world in search of the right genetics; genetics that have been pure and protected for thousands of years.