Fred Liebl of Wagon Wheel Ranch has been farming since 1970. Although he wasn’t raised on a farm, his grandparents were farmers in New York state where he grew up and worked on a neighbor’s dairy farm.
Fred’s work with livestock continued during his time in the Air Force when he was stationed in Montana cattle country. While there, he worked on ranches helping with roundups and took the first prerequisite courses towards his veterinary degree. After leaving the Air Force, he attended veterinary school at the University of Georgia while raising hogs and cattle. Fred has remained in Georgia and today raises Certified Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World (AGW) and Certified Grassfed by AGW beef cattle on his 200-acre family farm, Wagon Wheel Ranch, in the northeast part of the state.
In 2015, the herd of beef cattle at Wagon Wheel Ranch became Certified Grassfed by AGW. This is the only certification and food label in the U.S. and Canada that guarantees food products come from animals fed a 100% grass and forage diet, raised entirely outdoors on pasture or range, and managed according to the highest welfare and environmental standards on an independent family farm.
Fred’s beef cattle are a three-way cross of Santa Gertrudis, Hereford and the popular Angus breed. The Santa Gertrudis breed is known for their strong mothering instincts and heat tolerance. Herefords have a gentle disposition and a high-yield carcass, while Angus cattle are known for their high-quality, tender meat. Fred finds the three breeds perform extremely well in pasture-based farming systems.
Wagon Wheel Ranch uses a sustainable pasture rotation system with natural shade and fresh water available at all times. In rotational grazing systems, such as the one utilized at Wagon Wheel Ranch, the cattle graze one section of pasture at a time before being moved to fresh fields. This type of management allows grass to recover before cattle return to graze again; it also keeps the soil naturally fertilized and minimizes the build-up of internal parasites, thereby avoiding reliance on chemical treatments. Fred provides all of his animals’ nutrition on-farm by ensuring his cattle have access to the most nutritious grasses during the wet season and rye grass bailage to supplement their diet during times when there’s not enough grass. This system allows his animals to receive excellent nutrition during times of drought and eliminates the need to purchase expensive, lower-quality feed for his cattle.
Being Certified Grassfed by AGW allows Fred to communicate to his customers that his beef is truly of the highest quality and managed according to their full expectations. Wagon Wheel Ranch’s Certified Grassfed by AGW beef is available at farmers’ markets in northeast Georgia, direct from the farm, or online. Check the AGW directory for details.