There is an idea out there that raising animals and eating meat is harmful to our environment. Certainly industrial farming is responsible for a lot of problems, but did you know animals on well-managed pasture are actually a great way to improve the environment? Pasture-raised meat – specifically from herbivores, like cattle and sheep – isn’t just a healthy tasty dinner option – it has far-reaching effects that impact our world, for our children and beyond.
In a grass-based enterprise like ours at Rafter W Ranch, in order to provide the best, nutritious and flavorful meat, our main business must be growing grass. Unlike most other crops, we never need to harvest it with heavy petroleum-fueled equipment – our animals harvest it instead! Animals on pasture also do not require as much outside feed (weather permitting); their food grows on site, thanks to sunny days and a bit of water.
Our soil doesn’t require chemical fertilizers or hauling in truckloads of compost. Our animals do the work of fertilizing the soil by distributing their own manure! Every acre that doesn’t add to the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is important to us, and we’re committed to managing our land without causing harm to other parts of our world.
In a managed grazing system, the pasture is allowed to rest and regrow before being grazed again, this has amazing effects on soil. When pasture grasses are bitten off, their root systems undergo a similar “trimming.” This excess root mass dies off, adding to the organic matter and fertility of the soil. Repeated every time we “rest and regrow,” makes a real difference to our soil! Interestingly, the same system (grazing followed by rest) has the opposite effect on undesirable weeds; when routinely grazed, they don’t have a chance to set seeds, and must start their growth all over again every time. Eventually these weeds are easily crowded out by the more robust pasture. All this without poisonous weed killers!
Lastly, while there might not be any measurable proof, we believe letting cattle (and sheep) live as Nature intended is certainly better for our world. Our livestock are not confined to a feedlot, up to their bellies in waste, eating an unnatural diet of corn, with no greater purpose than packing on weight. Our animals graze fresh pasture, enjoy sunshine, rest in green meadows, and exercise their bodies as they move from paddock to paddock. This is exactly what they were designed to do, and we believe they’re happy.
In short, pastured meat offers a way to not just lessen negative impact on the environment, but a way to positively improve the health of our land and waterways. We are grateful that all the meat in our shop makes a healing difference to our earth, and delicious eating.