Ian Griebel started farming at a very early age. His first venture was running a laying hen operation at his parent’s farm; eventually he gained more responsibility and started raising pigs. At 18, Ian left the farm and moved to the city, where he pursued a career in carpentry. After 10 years in the city, his heart brought him back to his roots and the land he grew up on. Shortly after Ian and his wife, Dana Blume, were married, they moved to the farm where he was born and raised.
Today, Ian, Dana and their two children, Cohen and Fynn, are the third-generation to manage the family farm, where they focus on caring for their soil and water resources and help to maintain the ecosystems that flourish when animals are raised with good management practices.
Redtail Farms consists of 2,000 acres, located on the edge of grasslands, with a mix of poplar trees, wetlands, surrounded by willows and flat tracks of prairie. “This landscape was defined by vast herds of bison, pronghorn antelope, deer and elk,” explains Ian. “These herds danced across the prairies, orchestrated by grizzlies, wolves, cougars and native people. This dance built our topsoil and promoted an immensely diverse ecosystem.”
“Since our landscape was defined by herbivores, cattle are a good fit for our landscape,” Ian explains. “We run 130 head of Luing cattle, a rare breed originating from Scotland. The Luing cattle genetics consist of Highland breed crossed with Beef Shorthorn, which make them ideal for grazing the sometimes harsh Northern climate. With their long weatherproof hair coat and innate ability to convert grass to fat, the Luing cattle resemble the bison of the prairies.”
“Alongside our cattle we run Berkshire pigs,” says Ian. “Their incredible fat layer allows them to thrive in our harsh Canadian winter. We utilize the pigs to stimulate our forest floors in the spring, before moving them to root and harvest annual crop land mixed with perennials. We also feed the pigs a chemical-free grain, grown on farm.”
Redtail Farms pursued the Certified Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World (AGW) and Certified Grassfed by AGW certifications to help communicate their high-welfare farming practices. “With a growing customer base, we pursued certification to help educate our customers on our practices,” explains Ian. “Instead of lengthy phone calls and emails, people can trust our brand and practices by knowing we are certified.”
The Certified Grassfed by AGW certification for their beef cattle made sense to the farmers because of the biological nature for ruminants to consume plant materials. “Cattle in particular have evolved over thousands of years to eat a forage diet,” explains Ian. “To deny this process comes at a huge cost to our environment and to our health. We choose pasture management to regenerate our landscape, to keep our animals healthy and, ultimately, give our customers healthy protein.”
When asked about plans for the future, Ian states: “Our long-term goals for the farm are to create systems that promote diversity, and to build and enhance the variety of ecosystems present. We strive to be water resilient, building topsoil and feeding our community the healthiest food possible! We want to be a working example that agriculture can be a solution to so many of our global problems.”
Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW pork and Certified Grassfed by AGW beef from Redtail Farms is available online at redtailfarms.ca. For more information contact Ian Griebel at email@example.com. You can also follow the farm on Facebook and Instagram.