Paleo Magazine, from their Aug/Sep 2015 issue had an article in their ‘Research Roundup’ by Kristen Mancinelli, MS, RD, where she sites a publication in Nature, 2014 Mar 06, www.nature.com/news/agriculture-steps-to-sustainable-livestock-1.14796 that clears some of the smoke and mirrors away and points to the goodness of red meat and red meat sustainability.
Mancinelli writes, “The authors propose eight strategies for increasing the sustainability of production of ruminant animals like cows and sheep. The first is to feed them foods that humans cannot eat, like grass and, turning these inedible plant foods into usable calories. Raising animals in appropriate geographical regions and climates is another important strategy, as efforts to raise large-sized European breeds in areas of West Africa have resulted in sick animals that reduce overall production, because the foreign breeds lacked resistance to local diseases that are innate to smaller, local animals. The authors recommend strategic supplementation of livestock foods with plant extracts that change their gut microbial environment, allowing the animals to use nitrogen and energy more efficeiently. For instance, an enzyme in red clover increases ruminants’ ability to utilize dietary protein, and tar bush, a plant eaten by sheep in Australia, decreases the animals’ production of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Finally, the authors provide direction for individual consumers wanting to support sustainable livestock production.” Excerpt from: Paleo Magazine, Aug/Sep Page 16.
So, what does all this mean for Rawhide Ranch…it means we check all the boxes for healthy meat, as well as, sustainable ranching practices. How? Let’s count some of the ways:
1. Feed them foods that humans can’t eat. The Longhorn cattle on Rawhide Ranch have hundreds of grasses, plants and shrubs to choose from and some they eat seasonally just like they should. They aren’t restricted and they don’t have monoculture hay or pastures put in front of them. They choose. They know. They roam. They are happy with this ‘wild’ animal technique that has been honed for ruminants through evolution, because ruminants are, and have been, a food source for humans and other carnivores/omnivores for millenia. We evolved together…can’t be bad. The Longhorn cattle on the ranch take the food we can’t eat and make it into something we can eat! So, simple and so perfect.
2. Raising animals in appropriate geographical regions and climates… This includes a bunch of different thoughts. The Rawhide Ranch has a perfect position geographically, it isn’t too hot or too cold in general, you don’t have to feed hay because there is no shortage of forage during any season, so animals don’t have to be confined so that you can feed them, they go where they want and eat what they want. Also, Rawhide Ranch allows for natural migrations from lower to higher elevations in winter and summer just like wild ruminants tend to do and flourish in such environents. Plants have evolved with grazers and thus, need grazers to keep them healthy as well. The amount of room for plants and animals on the ranch is in a good balance so both thrive.
Longhorn cattle have adapted to the extremes of climate in North America from Montana to Mexico, they are hardy and have very few diseases that afflict Western Breeds that are more man-made. Longhorns have also been honed by nature to be leaner and smaller than the larger western breeds. This helps them ‘get around’ and is an evolutionay development honed in the last 500 years of selective breeding by nature for warmer and drier climates. Their bodies have been designed to fit nature not a shipping box. The animals keep interacting and thriving from the evolutionary standpoint.
3. Foreign breeds lacked resistance to local diseases that are innate to smaller, local animals. Longhorns adapted to the dry and clean high desert themselves. They lived in these types of environments and are considered indigenous to North America and have thus become ‘like’ their environment. So no worries there… They are smaller, so they don’t need to eat as much lb for lb and they can get around real easy being naturally athletic from their need to adapt to environmental influences. Longhorns are also legendary because they are so resistant to diseases and aren’t plagued by them nor do we doctor for them.
4. Strategic supplementation of livestock foods. Our thoughts are, ‘Why supplement if the supplements are already there’? On Rawhide, they are there, in spades, plants of all kinds and varieties, seasonal and/or annual, already adapted to the soils and climate on the ranch. The cow chooses the mix to get the most out of the plants and the most value as well. The cattle have a choice. Win-win.
5. Change their gut microbial environment, allowing the animals to use nitrogen and energy more efficeiently. Again, nothing needs to be added, nature has already done the work. Rawhide Ranch is in a state of wild nature basically. Longhorns evolved with it so they have already figured out how to ‘use nitrogen and energy more efficeiently’, possibly the most efficiently, without adding foreign additions. Our cattle are born and raised here, so, their microbial environment is passed down generation to generation and works with the animal and environment not against it. All births are natural out on the ranch where ever and when ever nature calls. The mother can eat the placenta if she chooses and the calf starts out on the clean desert floor…and sucks mother’s milk. Lots of good microbrial interactions from the get go.
6. Individual consumers wanting to support sustainable livestock production can! We have cattle that live in a natural environment where they are allowed to mature with little human intervention to an age where their protein is highly nutritious and the animals enjoy being free and productive upon the earth. We are cutting edge ranchers and, with you, on the edge of a return to sound food and animal husbandry practices in the United States of America. To your health and vigor! Rawhide Ranch