Ask the Butcher: Are Your Cows 100% Grass-Fed?

This month’s Ask the Butcher questions wants to know, “If your cows are 100% grass-fed, what do they eat in the winter when there’s no fresh grass available?”

Great question! This is another question we receive quite frequently. We love our Wisconsin summers, and so do our cows. During the spring, summer and fall months, our cows graze on the luscious rolling hills that make our state so beautiful. But winters can be rough. That’s why our producers work hard during harvest season to ensure cows are meeting their nutritional requirements in colder months without supplementing grains. This is done by producing hay and haylage. Let’s take a deeper look at some of these feeds and how they’re produced.

Hay

Hay is a great way to preserve fresh grasses and keep cows healthy in winter months. In Wisconsin, farmers typically seed with a mix of clover, ryegrass, alfalfa and fescue. When forages are at their peak nutritional value, they’re mowed and dried in the field for 3-5 days. Ever heard the adage, “If the sun is shining, make hay?” The sun is an important part of drying the freshly cut forages for storage. Hay typically has a moisture content of 15-20 percent. This ensures that it is dry enough to keep from producing harmful bacteria, but wet enough to avoid combustion. The dried grass is raked in the field and formed into bales for winter storage.

Haylage

Haylage is made much in the same way hay is, but dried for a shorter period. It typically has twice the moisture content of hay, about 40-60 percent. After the grasses are cut and baled, they are wrapped to eliminate exposure to air. The high moisture levels and airtight environment results in a fermentation process. The fermented forages produce natural acids that preserve the feed throughout the winter. The entire preservation process results in a high-quality feed that provides more nutritional supplementation for cattle.

Thanks for this month’s question regarding winter feeds! Keep those questions coming, Kettle Club Members!

Farmer Spotlight: The Schlimgen Family

We like to think of our Kettle Club members as family. Which is why we would like to introduce you to some of our extended family, the Midwestern producers who work tirelessly to ensure you have access to the healthiest, most sustainably raised meats. Meet the Schlimgen family!

Walk through the lush pastures of Dreamy 280 and you can see why Lisa and Dennis Schlimgen chose the name. The picturesque rolling hills speckled with content cattle roaming and ruminating on the nutrient rich forages are what makes Wisconsin farms so special.

“We feel that it is our responsibility to be good stewards of the land and implement sustainable beef raising practices,” Lisa explains. “The beef we produce is humanely raised without animal by-products and is hormone and antibiotic free.”

Raised on farms only miles away from where they currently reside, Lisa and Dennis shared a passion for agriculture and continued to make farming a family affair. They purchased Dreamy 280 near Blue Mounds in 1989, and began raising a few head of cattle along with a family.

Their three children, Julie, Patrick and Hope took an interest in showing off their superior cattle and have been stacking the family’s trophy room with ribbons and plaques for years. Though now grown, they are still actively involved in the family business. Patrick takes a special interest in genetics, sourcing the best cows for their herd which is comprised of angus and a few shorthorn.

The Schlimgens are the epitome of responsible husbandry and environmental stewardship. We thank them for not only what they do for Kettle Range and our customers, but for the sustainable agriculture community.

5 Roast recipes we are craving this month.

Tired of traditional pot roasts? Looking to keep your creative juices flowing in the kitchen? Check out these five recipes we are craving this month.

Slow-braised pork shoulder with cider & parsnips

Image via Good Food
This simple recipe blends a variety of flavors of winter ready staples. Blending the savory juices of the braised pork along with the sweet cider and parsnips, this recipe is bound to impress the entire family. For full recipe click HERE.

Texas Clod (Barbecued Beef Shoulder)

Image Via Barbecue Bible
The Beef Shoulder Clod is the upper portion of the chuck primal and it sits atop the brisket. This roast is leaner than a brisket and requires the same low and slow cooking method to break down the fats and collagen. Typically you need to allow one hour of cooking time for every pound of beef clod, smoking temperatures at or below 250. Let the inner grill master loose for this delicious Texas Clod. For full instructions and recipe Click HERE

Slow Cooker Mexican Brisket

Image Via House of Yumm
Kick Taco Tuesday up a notch with House Of Yumm’s Mexican Brisket. This blend of pablano chile, garlic, onion and spices will inspire a variety of meals. Use this recipe to have a build your own nacho night or a round of flavorful street tacos. Discover the full recipe HERE and getting planning your next Taco night now!

Southwest Cowboy Chili

Image via Nom Nom Paleo

Change up your chili with this Paleo inspired recipe. Swap out your typical ground beef and enjoy this chili featuring tender chuck roast. This recipe from Nom-Nom Paleo is sure to fill you and keep you steady on your New Year resolution. Click HERE for the full recipe and instuctions.

Tasty Cuban Pork Roast

Image Via The Noshtastic Blog

Spice things up with a little Cuban flare! A unique blend of citrus and herbs will have you dreaming of summer, while keeping you warm and full. Hop over the Noshtastic’s blog and get this recipe HERE.

I hope these recipes help inspire you. May they keep your warm and toasty all month long!