Home of Happy Cows
Around 1977 when we first moved to Goodfare, we did not bring with us a whole lot of cattle experience. “Greenhorns from the city” the neighbours thought we were but it didn’t slow us down from trying out some new ideas at raising cattle. It did not take long for word to spread through the neighbourhood and soon we became known by the locals as “The Home of Happy Cows”!
We were honoured by the title and thought the cows would be too. It wasn’t until much later the source of the rumor surfaced. The reason the neighbours thought our cows were so happy is that we’re “probably feeding them bales of marijuana”!
We’ve raised Angus cattle since the 1980’s and as I became interested in beef raised strictly on grass, the interest in Galloways increased. Galloway is considered to be a very ancient breed originating in the Province of Galloway in Scotland. The climate was harsh and the breed excelled at producing sweet, tender beef foraging only on grass.
Galloways come in many colors: Black, Speckled, Dun, Red, etc. I started with the Black Galloway and have recently changed my bull to a Belted Galloway. He is black at both ends with a white belt in the middle. The neighbour kids suggested I call him “Oreo” and that has been his name ever since. One advantage of the Belted Galloway that I never anticipated is that they are so unique in the area that all the neighbours know who they belong to, hence, no need to brand!
Why grass fed?
Cattle raised on grass pastures spend their time in open fields rather than crowded feedlots. Grass based diets involve less machinery than grain diets and have a much smaller environmental footprint. Green pastures also are rich in biodiversity providing feed and homes for a wide diversity of species.
Munching on grass is also a natural thing to do. The reduction of stress, the open ranges and nourishment provided by the pastures help the animal remain naturally healthy and content.
Healthy for us too! Beef from grass-fed animals has lower levels of unhealthy fats and higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are better for cardiovascular health. Grass-fed beef also has lower levels of dietary cholesterol and offers more vitamins A and E as well as antioxidants. Studies [PDF] found that meat from animals raised entirely on grass also had about twice the levels of conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA, isomers, which may have cancer fighting properties and lower the risk of diabetes and other health problems.
Natural Pasture, Organic of Course
Summer grazing on First Nature Farms is about as natural as it can get. Our 13 quarters (2080 acres) of grazing lease is mostly aspen forest with Beavertail Creek running diagonally through, providing all kinds of open meadows where the cattle like to spend their time. Winter brings the animals closer to home and “bale season” begins. All the hay we produce comes either from our own farm or the farms of our organic neighbours.
Since 2006 we have been supporters of the BC SPCA program promoting the welfare of farm animals.
Our beef is currently available by the cut at the Old Strathcona Farmers Market at the First Nature Farms booth in Edmonton. Sides are also available but presently the waiting list is almost one year.
Contact us for details.