Father and son partners, Virgil and Brad Hare, raise Certified Grassfed by AGW beef cattle on 100 acres of pasture at High Springs Farm, set in the rolling hills of the Missouri Ozarks.
With a family history in multi-enterprise farming–including beef and dairy cattle and grains–the Hare family decided beef was the best fit for the lush and nutritious forage, which flourishes in the temperate climate. Their 30 cow-calf pairs and yearlings graze on pasture year-round. “Our mission is to manage a cow-calf farming operation that sustains and improves the existing ecosystem by promoting soil health, enhancing grazing management and reducing reliance on fossil fuels,” Virgil explains. “We are applying natural systems to humanely raise a superior grassfed beef product.” The Hares are proud to have achieved Certified Grassfed by AGW status for their cattle herd: “Animal Welfare Approved has set the standards to be followed when it comes to raising farm animals,” adds Brad. “Having the logo on our product will let others know that our farm practices meet the highest standards for welfare, pasture-based management, and 100% grassfed feeding protocols.”
The Hares take active steps to preserve wildlife and woodland habitats on the farm, and in 2014 they earned the Dallas County Conservation Award. The award reflects a well-known link between pasture-based management and sustainability. The Hares explain that as their animals rotate through their pastures, the cows fertilize the soil with manure. Their dung beetle “army” further enriches the soil without the use of chemical fertilizers, and when tested, the soil reveals dense organic matter and the presence of beneficial microorganisms. “By following these practices, and insuring that the forage is matched to the number of animals grazing on our pastures, we will have a self-sustaining farm operation,” explains Brad. “Furthermore, input costs are minimized—no costly grains are needed, winter feeding of hay is rarely needed, and there is no need for expensive farm machinery.”
To fulfill their farm’s mission the Hare family choose cattle well suited to the land. They selected moderate-sized cows for their ability to efficiently convert a grass forage diet into grassfed beef, crossing Black Angus cows with South Poll bulls. Low-stress handling is key to animal husbandry at the farm. “We walk our herd slowly on foot when we rotate them through the farm,” says Virgil. “They lead a stress-free life, and we chose a local processor who minimizes stress and follows the AWA standards.”
Looking to the future, the Hares aim to grow their business by raising and marketing a superior Certified Grassfed by AGW beef product that provides healthy and nutritious food for their customers. “Our goal is simple,” says Brad. “We aim to continuously improve our farming practices so that this farm will sustain us, and others, for years to come.”