Star Brand Beef 2015

☆ May 7, 2015

It’s that time of year again! I’m thrilled to announce that Star Brand Beef is back, and ordering has opened for August delivery. The 2015 delivery route will be: Bozeman, Seattle, Poulsbo, Portland, Sacramento, Alameda, San Jose, Santa Barbara, and Los Angeles, with quick stops on I-5 in Olympia, Eugene, Redding, and Paso Robles. I’m also working on a possible mid-August delivery to Southern WY and Denver. All details, including delivery dates and ordering info, can be found on the Star Brand Beef website, HERE.

Also coming ’round this time of year are comments from those who are confused by the seeming contradiction of how much I love cows and how I provide beef for those who choose to eat it. And I would like to continue to explain why this is actually not a contradiction, and how one informs the other. (Previous posts on this topic can be found here, here, here, and here.)

I did not set out to be a rancher. But when I moved to Wyoming, which is cattle country, I saw thousands of calves being shipped off to feedlots every year when they were about nine months old. I heard the bawling of the calves and their mothers when they were separated – the sound travels for miles. And I knew feedlots to be cow concentration camps – the truth about feedlots should be common knowledge by now. Why, oh why, if I loved cows, would I stand by and do nothing? How, being that I was in a position to keep some of those calves from going to feedlots, could I not act, not do something?

When I buy calves from Mike, I keep those calves from entering The System: from going to feedlots, from being contained in pens filled with their own waste, from feed that is unnatural and makes them sick, from alleged abuse from workers, from an existence that is unequivocally and undeniably horrendous.

I do not keep them from transitioning to food. I don’t have the land, the money, nor the arrogance to do this – I believe that people who choose to eat meat deserve an option that is healthy and humane. I eat meat, about one meal a week, but I would continue to do this work even if I were 100% vegetarian. As long as I am able, and as long as people and/or their pets eat meat, I will humanely raise free-ranging, grass-finished beef.

Since they do transition to food, the lives of my beef cattle are short, this is true. But those lives are so completely free – free from stress, free from worry, free from hardship of any kind. For the entire course of their lives, they remain in a family unit, a family herd. They are given hundred- to thousand-acre pastures to roam and graze (land, I might add, that can’t raise other crops due to location and lack of irrigation). They drink water that is cleaner and purer than what most people have access to. They never go hungry, they never have to search for food. And they are treated gently and respectfully.

Mike and I prioritize calm and gentle behavior with our animals. We practice low-stress weaning, separating the cows from their calves but keeping them adjacent, separated by only a fence, so that they may smell, see, and hear one another while the calves transition to grass and hay and the cows dry off. There is no bawling, and the calves do not get sick from stress. When we sort or trail our cattle, we work with them on their time frame, not ours. We allow them to sniff the horse trailer or the squeeze chute and make the decision to enter on their own, rather than hitting them or using a hot shot to force them forward. Mike and I do not use, or even own, hot shots. Hot shots are cattle prods, like a taser for cows, and you would be shocked (no pun intended) by how often they are used.

This is why it’s so important to establish relationships with the people who raise the food you eat – whenever and wherever it’s possible – whether it’s eggs, dairy, or meat. It’s important to go deeper than the label, and find producers who practice a philosophy that aligns with yours. Buying grass-finished meat at Whole Foods is a great start. It is so much better for you, for the animals, and for the environment than conventional feedlot meat. But if the humane treatment of animals is important to you, it takes more work, more diligence. A lot of ranchers love and respect their stock. But not all of them do. Humane treatment is not a given, not yet.

Not everyone can drive down the road and chat with the person who raises the chickens that lay the eggs they eat, but there are other steps that can be taken. Just talking about the humane treatment of animals is a huge and essential step! Change begins with a conversation. And as consumers change their habits, markets change in response.

These market shifts are happening already. In the last five years, there has been an increase in calf buyers who are taking calves to giant grass pastures, and not straight into feedlots, because they see consumers choosing pastured beef. The more conversations we have, and the more choices we make that honor the humane treatment of the animals that become our food, the more change we can inspire industry-wide. We have a long way to go, but we are making strides with every choice we make about what we eat, what we buy, how we buy, and how we think and talk about food.

More information & resources:
@Defending Beef twitter feed
: The case for sustainable meat – the manifesto of an environmental lawyer & vegetarian turned cattle rancher, a great link and info round-up
Consumer Guide for Boycotting Factory Farms
: via Organic Consumers Association
Feedlot/Grass-based beef comparison & terms
: via The Cornucopia Institute
Star Brand Beef
: Humanely-raised grass-finished beef

Comments

29 Responses to “Star Brand Beef 2015”

  1. Diane Aden Hayes
    May 7th, 2015 @ 11:00 am

    I don’t eat meat – haven’t for probably 25 years – but I applaud you for raising cattle this way. I’d love to see the world go veg, but that’s a dream for a far-off future. This is a great first step.
    I live in an area full of feed lots and it’s awful. Try not to drive through California’s Central Valley on your way back.

  2. Miranda
    May 7th, 2015 @ 11:05 am

    How are they killed? Are they scared? Do they hear the other calves screaming from fear?

  3. shreve
    May 7th, 2015 @ 11:20 am

    M ~ No, there is no screaming. Because we are so gentle with our cattle, they don’t fear people. And because of this, at the end, they do not have a fear response or even realize what is happening. It’s over so fast.

    Small processors, and, even better, mobile processing (which takes place out in the field, but are not legal in every state, yet) are much easier on and less stressful for the livestock than giant commercial slaughterhouses.

  4. Dawn
    May 7th, 2015 @ 11:32 am

    Shreve, I admire what you do so much. How are the other ranchers in your area reacting to the success of Star Brand Beef? I remember a previous posting you said some smaller ranchers were starting to pay attention… I am wondering if any of them have started following your lead?

  5. Jeanine
    May 7th, 2015 @ 11:34 am

    Thanks for the information and resources about humanely raised cattle. I live in Worthington Ohio which hosts a Farmers Market every Saturday Morning. I have bought beef from farms local here in Ohio. I am going to get to know them better. I wish we could do business, I appreciate your blog, your sharing, and your commitment but I am a long way from even the Mississippi River.

  6. shreve
    May 7th, 2015 @ 11:45 am

    D ~ It’s definitely started the wheels turning for a lot of people in the area. I now have two other ranchers on board, one who raises Mini Angus, and another who raises lamb. They’re both great, gentle stewards.

    And there are others who have started to market their beef as pastured and GMO-free, seeing it as a successful tack worth taking, as it is! However, one within this group is not very nice to their cattle (to put it nicely). This illustrates why it’s SO vital for consumers to research and demand humane treatment – because customer demand is SO effective at bringing about change!

  7. JaneK
    May 7th, 2015 @ 12:22 pm

    I’m a fringe follower and have only commented once, I believe. But thank you for this post. I have always said that I would much rather eat a deer killed in the wild that had a good life than a cow raised in a slaughter house! Although I don’t hunt and couldn’t actually do it myself. Thank you for help the beef industry be more humane! Have you ever heard of the book Mutant Message Down Under? It is interesting how they view animals out in the wild…. much in this same way. Anyway, thank you for your education on this.

  8. Meg
    May 7th, 2015 @ 12:27 pm

    I wish I was on one of the routes. However being up here in Canada would make that pretty tricky! I admire your work in the humane treatment of animals Shreve. Keep up the amazing work =)

  9. Tavi
    May 7th, 2015 @ 12:53 pm

    I think eating local, humanely raised animals, hunting, and growing your own veggies and fruit is the most humane way to eat. Even if you are vegan or vegetarian, small animals are still killed during harvesting and habitat is still destroyed (I have nothing against vegans or vegetarians, I don’t eat meat unless we raise it or I know who did. It’s just a fact that no way of eating is completely free of suffering. I know I still have ways I can improve the way I eat and I am striving to do so.) And of course we all know the horrors of factory farming as you pointed out in your post. Knowing where your food comes and knowing that it was respected while it lived means so much. Thank you for what you do. I hope you will be an inspiration to other livestock producers.

  10. Colleen G
    May 7th, 2015 @ 1:21 pm

    Well written, Shreve, and I couldn’t have written or said this any better myself. I eat meat occasionally and always try to choose grass finished. Knowing where your food comes from should be relevant to everyone, and we as consumers can make a difference if we take a small amount of time to educate ourselves. I applaud your dedication and commitment to these animals and pray to the Lord above that more farmers will follow your lead.

  11. Kathleen
    May 7th, 2015 @ 1:31 pm

    Sharing on Facebook for others to see since you’re not on Facebook anymore. This is so important!!! Abusing farmed animals is so rampant, in the dairy industry too. My fiancee was fired for complaining about how the cows were beat with metal poles while they were herded into the milking stalls at a local dairy. Thank you for caring Shreve, it’s helpful for those of us who’s body survives better on a paleo style diet than vegan. I’ve tried both, and all points in between; as much as I really don’t like the reality of it I was made to eat meat.

  12. Taylor
    May 7th, 2015 @ 3:33 pm

    So jealous of the West Coasters who can buy from you! Thanks for doing it the right way.

  13. Carla DeLauder
    May 7th, 2015 @ 4:25 pm

    This was so well written, Shreve; the best you’ve written to date on why you raise beef.

    I’m in Redding and hope I can find some locals who will chip in with me. I’ll wander over to your Star Brand site and see if I can hook up with others in my area.

  14. 1stepcloser
    May 7th, 2015 @ 6:00 pm

    I love your posts. I work at a barn with horses but the owners also raise about 50 head of beef. I hate when the calves are separated from their moms. Its so sad to hear them cry, plus the cows aren’t use to people. So trying to work with them is stressful for all involved. I wish more farmers treated live stock like you and mike do.

  15. Jenny C
    May 7th, 2015 @ 9:50 pm

    Thank you for this post, Shreve.

  16. Heather
    May 7th, 2015 @ 11:02 pm

    I used to live in Riverbank, CA which is a small suburb by Modesto in the Central Valley. There are numerous dairies in the area and our neighbor owned one but since his wife wanted a “normal” house they chose to live in town. But every single morning he would pull his long trailer up in front of his and my house and go inside his house to do…god knows what, I never did know. Sometimes I felt like it was just to torture me though I know it wasn’t. Inside the trailer were the sweetest newborn calves with umbilical cords dripping, crying and crying for their mamas. There were always about 4 or 5 of them and they would huddle together. My little boy and I would have to walk out to the car every morning on the way to work and school and see and hear those poor babies. Sometimes my son would walk over and pet them but I got to where I couldn’t go to them as it broke my heart too much, and I grew to hate that man for forcing me to listen to their cries every day. My mom was there one time and asked him what he was going to do with them. He said sometimes he took them to the auction where they would be sold but mostly they were just put down.

    We finally moved last year and like Clarice Starling, I no longer hear the screaming of the lambs…calves in my case. But I’ve never forgotten them. So thank you. Thank you so much for doing this, Shreve. I hope everyone reading this walks away with a better understanding of why animal lovers are a welcome and much needed addition to the beef industry and to the food industry in general.

  17. Owen
    May 7th, 2015 @ 11:05 pm

    S~

    Someday, it would be so cool if you could video your process with your calves from start to finish, as a sort of way to show people that you know and believe and have proven that there is a wonderful alternative to factory farming (and inhumane practices), and to allow people to SHOW and promote this concept of humane, grass-finished beef. To say, yes. Factory farms are shit. They treat animals like shit and they produce shit. But no, veg*anism is not for everyone so for those choosing to eat meat and feed meat (you go, vegans who raw feed their dogs and cats species-appropriate diets, y’all are badasses), here is what we need to do to change the way our world works. We do not have to accept subpar food and poor treatment of animals.

    Yeah. Sorry for the ramble.
    TL;DR: I really want a video I can link people to, showing them what they should be supporting, and giving info on how to start the conversation for change.

  18. mlaiuppa
    May 8th, 2015 @ 12:43 am

    I’m still eating my original order but hope to be ordering again next year.

    Prayer After Eating by Wendell Berry

    I have taken in the light
    that quickened eye and leaf.
    May my brain be bright with praise
    of what I eat, in the brief blaze
    of motion and of thought.

    May I be worthy of my meat.

  19. sybil
    May 8th, 2015 @ 6:58 am

    If you ever ship in small batches to the east I am in.

  20. Sheri Nugent
    May 8th, 2015 @ 7:39 am

    Yes Yes Yes YES!!! Wonderfully written, Shreve! Where food comes from and under what conditions is a passion of mine. The market is the BEST way to influence change… everything follows the money. My food money follows the exact path you describe. Bravo. I wish I knew someone who does the same for pork and chicken.

  21. Amy
    May 8th, 2015 @ 11:07 am

    PREACH

  22. Lindsay
    May 8th, 2015 @ 11:19 am

    Yay!! I had been eagerly waiting for when you would deliver to my area but I lived in Indiana for the past several years so it never worked out. My husband and I just moved to Oregon last summer, so I was thrilled to place my order today! Can’t wait!!! Shreve, I’m so impressed with everything that you do and my hope is that more and more farmers/ranchers catch on to this way of raising and producing meat.

  23. Star Brand Beef 2015 | Mostly lemon based
    May 8th, 2015 @ 2:42 pm

    […] Star Brand Beef 2015 […]

  24. Calico
    May 8th, 2015 @ 7:28 pm

    Thanks again Shreve for summarizing the situation so well.
    Off topic, you mentioned last month that you had a speech coming up, but that your voice was not recovered. Has that speech happened yet ? If so, hope it went well !
    Hmm, I’m also wondering also if it is the same voice as it was before ?

  25. rose
    May 10th, 2015 @ 7:08 pm

    I can not convey how thankful I am for ranchers like you. Ranching is near and dear to my heart, and has inspired me to eat only meat raised locally and humanely by family or friends. I will not purchase meat in the super market.

    People like you are changing the conventional food system. And I am so inspired that people like you and choices in consumerism make can make a difference. Cheers across the west :)

  26. kelli
    May 10th, 2015 @ 9:32 pm

    i am tickled pink that you are going to be passing thru the town I live in: Redding, CA. Unfortunately, I cannot accommodate the minimum order of your raised-with-love beef, or I would be thrilled to buy some. thank you for providing an alternative for those of us who chose to eat beef.

    safe travels!

  27. nancys
    May 13th, 2015 @ 8:48 am

    I am sad you aren’t coming out east towards Ohio again this year, but I do understand this is a business. What I do want to say is that you have opened my eyes to local farmers & locally raised beef in my area. Sometimes we can be so blind as to what is right in front of your face all along.
    Thanks you & much success in your business & your life.
    OMG, I love every picture you post here :)

  28. shreve
    May 14th, 2015 @ 3:13 pm

    THANK YOU to everyone who has taken the time to share your thoughts and perspectives! This is such an important conversation, and I’m so glad to be part of it with you all.

    N ~ Fantastic! Forming relationships with the ranchers around you is great for all involved!

  29. jessica
    May 18th, 2015 @ 11:42 am

    Your willingness to put thought into this process, act accordingly, and share your thought-process so clearly has meant a lot to me over the years. Thank you so much, Shreve.

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