Gentle, cows and ewes with strong maternal instinct, superior forage efficiency, and tolerance to environmental challenges and our adherence to sustainable pasture management is the key to our grazing method.
The beef and lamb we sell are raised on our farms:Nature knows best and on our Missouri valley farms, April and May are the best calving and lambing months. Temperatures are mild, pastures are greening, insect pests are at a minimum and so is the mud! Our pasture-finished steers and heifers graze on our farms for 22 – 24 months and our lambs graze for 7 months before processing.
Ingredients for the perfect meat: Missouri cool and warm season grasses and clean water:Raising healthy livestock is really about pasture management. Our pasture management focuses on using our cattle and sheep to replace the nutrients they consume from the pastures back into the soil through their manure. We do not use any commercial fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides. Our livestock make divots in the pasture as they graze, pushing manure and un-grazed forage back into the soil, replenishing the nutrients and creating an environment that attracts earthworms and dung beetles. Grass seeds native to Missouri pastures thrive with this kind of pasture care and grasses grow that are more tolerant to the temperature and rainfall variations we experience through the summer and fall. This allows us to graze our livestock year round. We fence our water sources so that livestock do not stand in it, keeping the water fresh and free of contaminants.
What our livestock don’t receive:Today consumers are very interested in what goes into their food. We believe adhering to what nature intended for cattle and sheep to eat is the best approach. Our cattle and sheep are not feed the following:
- Beta agonists: This is a type of chemical that reallocates nutrient use from one type of tissue to another, most typically away from fat toward muscle. Instead, we select cattle and sheep breeds that are genetically able to maintain the ideal muscle-to-fat ratio we want in our meat.
- Ethanol by-products and animal by-products: Our feeding system is forage-based. Simply said, we don’t need to feed these types of feed additives or supplements because our pastures consistent of a healthy variety of warm and cold season grasses, along with native plants that support our cattle herd and sheep flock while also allowing for an abundance of wildlife, which we believe is critically to sustainable and regenerative farming.
In 1985, we purchased a farm nestled in a creek valley alongside Big Cedar Creek that separates Boone and Callaway counties in mid-Missouri. The previous owner had used the land for crops, but we were interested in livestock farming, so we slowly converted the land to pasture. Old fence lines were cleared, fences were built and soil management practices were adjusted to develop our pastures rich in nutrients needed for cattle and sheep that are finished on natural grasses. Initially, we raised Polled Hereford cattle, known for maternal instinct, gentle personality, and feed efficiency. Then, in 2010, after researching cattle breeds that could enhance our Polled Herefords ability to finish on grass, we incorporated the South Poll Grass Cattle (SPGC) into our herd. SPGC are known not only for their ability to finish, or marble, on grass, but also for their natural heat tolerance, resistance to parasites and ability to produce an abundance of milk for their calves. All characteristics we feel are necessary to produce the quality of beef we market. As of 2017, most of the Polled Hereford genetics were bred out of our herd. Most of the cows in our herd are 100% South Poll Grass Cattle. Katahdin Hair Sheep were added in 2005, so that we could add lamb meat to our meat offerings. Katahdin Hair Sheep also have the same great mothering, easy handling, heat tolerant, parasite resistance and feed efficiency characteristics we have in our cattle. And, they don’t require shearing because they shed, or “blow” their wool off each spring. John grew up on a small farm in Boone County, enjoys working outside with animals and is the herd manager for our cattle herd. Our cattle graze nearby farms that parents and neighbors own, so John is busy moving cattle to grazing grounds, checking fence and monitoring pasture re-growth, which is very important to us and the key to our sustainable grazing method. I attended the University of Missouri-Columbia’s agriculture school and graduated with a degree in Ag Journalism. I manage the sheep flock and do most of the marketing for Harrison Valley Farms. Farming is a family affair for us and often we ask our two daughters to step in and help work cattle or sheep. Other animals on our farm include 5 mustangs from the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary. In Kim’s free time, she enjoys training these horses—each one has its own personality. And when you have sheep, a border collie is very useful. Written by Kim Harrison