A weekly series about our food and sustainable agriculture.
Artisan butcher Tracy Smaciarz (Heritage Meats) and rancher Tracey Baker (The Gleason Ranch) describe their philosophies on the care and treatment of livestock, and the importance of transparency throughout the entire process. To Smaciarz and Baker, livestock are living creatures deserving of respect, and humane treatment during their lifetime. Ultimately, the buyer should know where their meat comes from, and how the animal was raised.
Baker’s cattle are grass fed and grass finished on year-round pasture. According to Baker, she rarely needs to administer antibiotics to her cows; the small bottle that she has on hand usually expires, and is discarded, before ever being used. If she needs to administer antibiotics to any cows, Baker says “they are immediately pulled from the meat program.”
When the weather turns cold and wet, there is a large roof enclosure area where the cattle congregate to keep warm and dry. Care, a steady diet of fresh grass, and a certain amount of love that Baker openly displays toward her cattle may be all they need to remain healthy, and hardy.
In this age of specialization that fragments almost every profession and trade, there’s something comforting in the knowledge that a butcher and a rancher have joined forces together so that everyone at the table (and in the pasture) can win.