BN Ranch harvests its genuine grass-grown, grass-finished beef when forages are at their finest, and cattle are mature and have reached peak condition. Our extended network of ranches allows us to expand on the ancient pastoralist strategy of keeping livestock on the most nutritious forages throughout the year and bringing animals to market when they are mature and fattened during the season of plenty.
At every stage of the process we leave nothing to chance. We are regularly on the ground at every one of our diverse ranches, working with land managers, truck drivers, and cattlemen and women to ensure that cattle and land are attentively stewarded. At slaughter we have people present that respect the animals and are personally vested in ensuring optimal welfare. As animals are brought to the stunning area we do everything possible to ensure that animals experience neither fear nor pain. As the butchers transform the carcasses into familiar cuts of meat we keep a watchful eye over the entire process so that every part of every animal ends up in the right hands assuring that every part is put to its best use and nothing is wasted.
We consider it essential that we are directly involved in every stage of the process of creating BN Ranch beef. Our focus creates some of the best tasting, most wholesome and humanely raised meat in the world. That is our mission and we hope you will agree that we have succeeded when sharing our best in season beef.
How do you define grassfed?
The USDA defines grassfed as a diet that consists of 100% fresh grazed pasture during the growing season and stored grasses (hay or grass silage) during the winter months or in drought condition. Unfortunately, this definition allows for feedlot cattle to be fed harvested forage and qualify as grassfed beef.
BN RANCH DEFINITION:
BN Ranch cattle in New Zealand and California spend their entire lives on pasture, grazing every day. Our cattle are never fed grain, nor any other feeds that do not meet the USDA definition for grassfed. We use responsible land management practices to ensure they are always on the best grass for that time of year. Mature animals from nutritious grasses reach their optimal conditions for harvesting at different times of the year, depending upon the regional climate and biodiversity. To us, animals harvested from different regions based on seasonal grass cycles create genuine grassfed beef that is consistently delicious--best in season.
what are the beef seasons?
Mid-June to Early December
January to Early June, and Mid-December
*seasons are approximate
WHY NEW ZEALAND?
New Zealand is a part of our vision for a sustainable meat industry focused on "locale" - not local. Here's why:
New Zealand benefits from similar geographic features that are highly favorable to the raising of beef cattle, but with harvests at different times of the year. Importing beef from these regions during our off season allows us to provide our customers with beef from mature cattle harvested off of peak grasses throughout the year.
The ranchers we work with have the same vision for genuine grassfed, mature cattle harvested at peak conditions for optimal eating quality. They are not trained, but rather selected for their kindred approach.
One of the most questionable aspects of conventional and local-centric animal husbandry is the shipping of hay and grain during the winter months to fatten livestock. This practice encourages the growth of water-thirsty alfalfa crops and requires constant trucking from around the country. In contrast, following the global grass seasons eliminates the need for regular shipments of feed of any sort. Beef can also be shipped around the globe without sacrificing eating quality, as it improves with age during transport.
Do you use antibiotics?
Bill's response to an inquiry regarding the use of antibiotics in the meat industry:
"I have always advocated for the use of antibiotics for therapeutic use, but only for that use. As you know, it is the rampant use of subtherapeutic antibiotics to stimulate growth and replace good animal husbandry that has created the antibiotic resistant pathogens and superbugs. We are totally committed to ending that use as well as the prophylactic use of antibiotics. As someone who spends much of my day, every day, personally taking care of our animals I cannot allow any sick animal in my care to be denied the healing benefits of antibiotics anymore than I would deny them to my own children. This does not mean using them easily or often. To the contrary, it means using them rarely and judiciously. But it does mean using them. This is true of all of our farmers and ranchers and we respect them for this way of thinking and have chosen to partner with them partly because of that approach -- providing the best possible care, every day, to each individual animal.
The next logical question is why don't you just identify the animals that have been treated for pink eye, foot rot, pneumonia, or any other illnesses that would respond to antibiotic therapy? Then, those treated animals, a very small proportion of the total, can be sold to the commodity market where almost every animal has received antibiotics and hormones/steroids. I firmly believe that if antibiotics are used therapeutically that they will be completely metabolized in an animal over a period of several months. Not the manufacturer's recommended withdrawal period (typically 7 to 30 days) but a much longer period---minimally three months. In the BN Ranch system, we agree to purchase all the suitable calves that a cow-calf operator raises, with the proviso that they identify all the treated animals without purchase price penalty. This encourages trust. In other words, there is no reason to cheat by slipping in a medicated animal.
We are taking the more difficult path of including the treated animals in our program and trying to educate the consumer that it's the right thing to do. Through this honest and educated approach we think that we can begin to redirect the public conversation towards a more sensible and accurate discussion around the uses of antibiotics in the animal food system -- inappropriate and appropriate.
Finally, on the antibiotic use subject, it is far easier to raise healthy animals on an all grass/forage system. It is also impossible to feed antibiotics subtherapeutically as well as other manmade compounds as feed additives to promote growth. This is just one more of the compelling reasons to raise and eat only grassfed beef. As Nicolette often says, "Much of the benefit of grassfed beef is avoiding what you don't want to have in your food chain."