Katie and Jim Haack raise a small herd of Belted Kingshire cattle, a miniature cattle breed, in the lush Snoqualmie River Valley, 30 miles east of Seattle, Washington. In addition to being Certified Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World (AGW), the cattle at Wild Canary Farm are Certified Grassfed by AGW, the first—and only—food label in the U.S. and Canada that guarantees food products come from animals fed a 100% grass and forage diet and raised entirely outdoors on pasture.
Jim grew up spending summers tending cattle and horses on his grandfather’s small farm in central Missouri, but it wasn’t until 2000 that the couple abandoned the suburbs, in exchange for a 75-acre farm in Carnation, WA, a community with a long history of dairy farming, named after Carnation Milk.
The farm is located in river bottomland pasture, with sandy loam soils rich in volcanic minerals from the Cascade Mountains. The light but consistent rainfall allows the Haacks to harvest hay in addition to the grass their cattle graze. The smaller size of the Belted Kingshire breed allows Jim and Katie to raise more cattle on less pasture when compared to the main commodity cattle breeds. A triple cross between the mini-Hereford, mini-Angus and mid-sized Highland cattle, the Belted Kingshire was developed to excel in a pasture-based system and converts feed to muscle more efficiently than larger breeds. While the Belted Kingshires make lean beef, they also marble well on pasture in 16 to 18 months. In addition, Jim and Katie appreciate their docile manner and exceptional mothering skills. All of these attributes are important as Jim and Katie develop an on-farm breeding program.
The most important aspect of Wild Canary Farm’s husbandry practices is their attempt to mimic nature. “We move our herd under a management-intensive grazing program,” says Jim. “The benefits of this are many, including parasite control, nutrient management, pasture and soil health, and well-balanced access to fresh grass. Our animals are born and raised on our farm with the greatest care for their wellbeing, treated with dignity and respect, and allowed to express their natural instinctive behaviors.” Cattle at Wild Canary Farm are never given subtherapeutic antibiotics, hormones, steroids, or other additives and they are slaughtered on-farm, eliminating the stress of transport that can affect meat quality.
Making sure that their herd has access to healthy pastures is integral to translating these ideals into management techniques: “We believe pasture-based production is a healthy, sustainable, humane, soils-focused, carbon sequestration engine capable of saving the world!” Jim and Katie pursued the Certified Grassfed by AGW certification for their herd of Belted Kingshire beef cattle in order to have an independent third-party verify their high-welfare practices. “A Greener World certifications not only validates the integrity of our farm but adds a valuable advisor to our production ‘team,’” says Jim. Wild Canary Farm has also received King Conservation District Farm of Merit status for sustainable management practices.
Jim and Katie have help on the ranch by their two sons, Keenan and Conner, and their dog, Shadow. They hope to grow the herd in the coming years and keep improving the farm. “We want a diverse and naturally integrated livestock farm providing the highest-quality healthy local food, which is capable of sustaining itself on minimum outside inputs. An income would be pretty nice, too!” Jim laughs.
Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW, Certified Grassfed by AGW beef from Wild Canary Farm is available direct from the farm in wholes, halves and quarters. For more information, visit wildcanaryfarm.com or contact Katie and Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org and 425-333-6663. Follow the farm on Facebook.