Owen and Neila Nelsen raise beef cattle on 1,200 acres of improved pasture at Full Nelsen Farms in Vegreville, Alberta. The couple both grew up on farms in Alberta: Neila on a federal cattle research center in the southern part of the province, and Owen on a family farm in the north.
Full Nelsen Farms’ cattle are always raised on pasture and rotational grazing is utilized to make best use of the land, ensuring the cattle always have access to the most nutritious grasses. The Nelsens believe that pasture-based management is an excellent model to improve the overall ecological health of the land, including the soil, water quality and biodiversity. Managing cattle on pasture using high-welfare management techniques is also beneficial for the animals’ health and welfare. As a result, the Nelsens only ever use antibiotics as a last resort to treat sick animals—never for disease prevention or growth promotion. They are proud their cattle never receive hormones or genetically engineered feeds. Like many farmers, consumers and chefs, Owen and Neila know that these practices affect not only the health of their animals, but the quality of their beef.
The Nelsens’ commitment to environmental stewardship and animal welfare is verified by their certification as a source farm for Certified Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World (AGW), Certified Grassfed by AGW beef cattle. This is the first—and only—food label in North America that guarantees food products come from animals fed a 100 percent grass and forage diet, and raised entirely outdoors on pasture or range. “We value the welfare of the animals, the sustainability of the land, the nutritional quality of the food we are producing, and we feel that being Certified Grassfed by AGW supports this,” says Neila. Being an approved source farm means the Nelsens can raise and sell beef cattle to other certified farms. They applied for the Certified Grassfed by AGW label so they could sell grassfed beef cattle to their friends and mentors at nearby TK Ranch, one of Canada’s leading retailers of Certified Grassfed by AGW beef.