Beef Cows at Stony Creek Farmstead
Our beef herd is primarily made up of Belted Galloway cattle. Belted Galloway, a heritage breed that originated in the Galloway district of Scotland, is a hardy breed that can withstand the harsh winters of the Catskills thanks to their hide and long hair. This insulation allows them to develop thick and lean muscle mass without the typical layer of fat on lazy feedlot cow. The breed is remarkably gentle, yet hardy. Belted Galloway cattle are also extremely good mothers. They birth their calves out in the pasture, usually in the dark of night, and then care for them totally unaided by us. In five years, we have had almost 50 calves born!
Our cattle are raised outside on pasture their entire lives. Which is what the ruminant digestive system was designed to thrive on - grasses, legumes and mixed forbs. The rumen, or stomach, is a 40-50 gallon “fermentation vat” where resident bacteria convert cellulose into protein and fats. Our cows never receive grain of any kind. We practice rotational, intensive grazing, so our cows are constantly eating only the richest, most nutritious pasture. In the depths of winter, they will eat hay that we harvested from the farm fields during the summer, to sustain them till the spring. A forage based diet results in a healthier animal, and a better tasting, healthier meat.
Grass fed beef is lower in both overall fat and saturated fats. Meat from grass fed and finished cattle has higher levels of healthy Omega-3′s, up to four times the amount of vitamin E and is much higher in Conjugated Linoleic Acid. Best of all, the beef has a more developed complex flavor. For further information about grass fed meat, see www.eatwild.com.
Raising cattle this way takes time. It typically requires two full years to raise a steer or heifer that we feel is ready to be sent to the butcher. A properly grazed animal not only means the meat will be more nutritious, tender, and flavorful, but it also fosters a genuinely sustainable agricultural environment. When you eat beef raised on our farm, you are getting a taste of the fertile landscape of our local foodshed.