We start our calves as natural as they can be. When they leave the farm they are in great health but a little rough around the edges — like most teenagers leaving the nest…
We’re working to send excellent calves on to natural buyers that will take our carefully raised animals into a grass-fed beef or certified natural beef program — a label you might see in the grocery store.
We check herds everyday and move them around onto new pasture periodically. The term “managed grazing” means, instead of putting cows out on the range all year (like you might see out west), we have different pastures into which we rotate the herds. All pastures have a good diversity of grass varieties, nutritious weeds and legumes, providing a healthy “salad” mix supplemented with free-choice, all-natural minerals and vitamins — necessary “salt” support for bovine health.
We’ve been building infrastructure (fencing and watering) to allow maximum flexibility, depending on time of year and stage of cows — for instance, a cow with no calf, not supplying milk, does not need the quantity or quality of grass that a cow with a calf needs. This year we’re planning to fence out forested areas, too, for three reasons: first to keep the cows from hiding in the woods when we want to move them; second, to protect trees and understory for managed forestry and wildlife (the farms is half wooded areas); and third, because calves like to eat acorns in the fall — and that can kill them.
Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) is a national program that certifies people for proper handling of livestock, including moving herds and handling animals at close range. Lucas Farms is all read up on that since, we know, if you’re kind to cows, they take care of you — and cows actually learn what you want them to do, given a little patience and understanding.