Doug and Sheila Garrison raise Certified Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World (AGW), Certified Grassfed by AGW beef cattle outdoors on pasture at DS Family Farm near Malcolm, Nebraska.
DS Family Farm is located just a few miles west of Lincoln in the Tallgrass Prairie Region of the U.S. The farm’s soils range from thin to deep on rolling hills covered with native prairie, reseeded cropland and native forestlands. “Our farm is located in the ‘sweet spot’ for raising grassfed beef,” Doug explains. “Our winters are generally mild, with an average annual rainfall of 30 inches.”
The Garrison’s beef cattle herd is comprised of cows, their current year calves, their prior year yearlings, and their two-year-old finishing beef. “We selected Red Angus with Devon influence as these breeds are well-adapted to finishing on a forage-only diet,” says Doug. “We refer to our beef cattle as ‘Pasture-Grazed,’ as they spend their entire lives (from birth to harvest) on pasture. They are never confined to a dry or dirt feed lot. You will find our herd on grasslands or forestlands 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.”
Pasture-based management is the foundation for animal husbandry practices that result in the highest overall welfare for the herd. As Doug explains, “Nature has given us all a pattern to raise beef. Excellent examples of large herbivore natural systems are available worldwide. Operating our herd on forages year around results in healthy animals the way nature intended, which means we have no need for artificial inputs, such as antibiotics, growth hormones or pour on pesticides.” Doug adds: “Raising beef in nature’s image is fairly easy; the difficult part is keeping it that way, not imposing our perceived ideas on what is ‘best’.”
Doug and Sheila decided to also pursue Certified Grassfed by AGW certification for their beef cattle herd because the standards fit well with the animal husbandry objectives they had established for the farm. Certified Grassfed by AGW is the only certification and logo in the U.S. and Canada that guarantees food products come from animals fed a 100 percent grass and forage diet, raised outdoors on pasture or range for their entire lives, and managed according to Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW leading welfare and environmental standards on an independent farm.
“After learning about the Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW program and reviewing their excellent science-based information concerning raising beef cattle, we decided to join the program,” says Doug. “We feel the best option for consumers to verify how their food is being raised is to visit our farm. Joining the Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW program adds a second layer of confidence for our customers that may not know what to look for—or for those who can’t visit.” Looking ahead to the future, the Garrisons are focused on continuing to expand the accessibility of sustainable, high-welfare, pasture-raised and grassfed meats to their customers.
Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW, Certified Grassfed by AGW beef from DS Family Farm is available at Nebraska Food Coop and Lone Tree Foods, as well as direct from the farm and by custom order. For more information, call 402-796-2208, visit dsfamilyfarm.com and follow the farm on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.