Boot Ranch emphasizes low-stress, minimal handling with the intention to create an environment that encourages natural behavior. We rotate between mountain and prairie pastures to provide our cattle with the highest quality nutrition while simultaneously providing our land with optimal growth of native grasses. In late May we trail our cattle via horseback to mountain pasture. They spend the summer in subalpine meadows with minimal human interference (we intervene only to ensure they are healthy and have plenty of water). Early in October, we round them up and trail them back to the home ranch. We avoid transporting our animals via truck and trailer wherever possible. Because Wyoming's winters can be challenging, during those months we supplement our cattle with native grass and alfalfa hay, fed on the open pasture.
Our cows calve in March and April, ensuring that the calves are old enough to make the journey to the mountains in May. After the calves spend the summer with their mothers in the mountains, they are weaned at approximately six months of age. The cycle is then repeated.
Grass-fed or grass-finished?
Grass-fed and grass-finished are used as terms of art in today’s marketplace. Every cow eats grass during its life cycle, and thus some people will market beef that has been fed grain as "grass fed" or "grass finished." Our animals spend their entire lives on open range pastures in central Wyoming. Our cattle have never been fed anything but grass.
Cattle have evolved over several millennia to eat and digest grass. This is not news, it is nature. After World War II, the American beef industry developed a grain feeding culture to pack quick pounds onto cattle before selling to market. High in starch and calories, feeding grain is the most efficient method to fatten an animal quickly and has become a traditional practice throughout the industry. Grain-fed beef has allowed for consumers to purchase meat at a lower market price, while enabling producers to sell larger cattle. When selling per pound, a larger animal means more money for the producer. Grain helps pack on quick pounds, but typically lacks essential nutrients found in grass. Grass is high in healthy, monounsaturated fats; and it contains vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are not found in high-starch grains, such as corn. We believe you are what you eat. When you consume a beef product that is not raised and finished on grass, you are missing out on these beneficial nourishing components that are known to fight cancer and obesity. Accordingly, we have revisited the way we raise beef and focus on providing a grass-fed alternative. We believe grass fed is the healthiest way to raise beef for the environment, the animal, and the consumer.
How healthy is your beef?
Consuming beef raised with the intent to pack on fast pounds is a sure way to pack on fast pounds yourself. Compared to animals raised on grain, grass-fed beef is naturally lower in calories and saturated fat, and higher in healthy fats, such as Omega-3s and Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLAs). This creates a product with a leaner, cleaner taste, composed of essential nutrients known to fight cancer and fend off obesity. We believe that the highest quality meat comes from animals that eat what is natural to their digestive systems. By raising our animals purely on grass we are able to produce some of the healthiest beef available to market.
What are your certifications?
Boot Ranch beef is certified through the Global Animal Partnership Five-Step Program. This means our cows are born and raised on rangeland that promotes natural behavior. They are castrated at a young age (no more than three months) and weaned no earlier than six months. They are never given antibiotics or growth hormones, and they thrive purely off of lush Wyoming grass. Our animals are also Non-Hormone Treated Cattle (NHTC). The NHTC program is approved by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and designed to help consumers distinguish between non-hormone treated beef and beef that may have otherwise been treated with hormones. The United States federal government does not ban the use of growth-promoting hormones in cattle, so purchasing beef with the NHTC certification gives consumers assurance that they are purchasing non-hormone treated meat.
What is the Global Animal Partnership?
The Global Animal Partnership is an organization that aims to improve the quality of life for livestock raised for food as well as create an avenue through which meat producers can proactively and transparently address the preferences of consumers. GAP certifications are ultimately based on goals to improve animal welfare and reduce suffering. This program is based on a multi-tiered standards program with goals to engage a broad spectrum of producers, expand markets for farmers committed to improving the quality of life for animals, and empower consumers to make educated purchasing decisions.