Thousand Hills Cattle Co.
Thousand Hills Cattle Co
Cows naturally eat grass. They graze in fields, finding the best nutrition they can from leaves and blades of grass, and fertilize the land as they go. It’s a natural system that has been working well for a very long time.
Most of the beef and milk available today comes from cows that have been pulled from this great system and raised in feedlots eating feed their stomachs aren’t designed for – many of the acres after acres of corn we grow in this country goes to feed these cows. Growing corn at a large scale in undiversified farms is only accomplished with ample inputs of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, with negative impacts on our environment aplenty. That corn then goes to the cows that naturally would be eating grass.
Check out video of our chat with Todd on our You Tube Channel
Our current system just doesn’t make sense. I visited Thousand Hills Cattle Company to find out more about what they are doing to bring back a more natural way of doing things.
Todd Churchill, owner of Thousand Hills, founded the company 6 years ago with a vision of getting the grass-fed beef he and a handful of other small farmers raise to local grocery stores. Todd and I talked about the history of Thousand Hills, about the growth to a 4 person staff, with about 30 small family farms supplying cattle.
But our conversation focused on the land. Todd took me to visit his grazing area, located a short drive from Thousand Hills’ Cannon Falls office and warehouse. We turned up a dirt road into a very pretty little valley – with hills and a stream. This land is in low demand for farming -- it is not big enough or flat enough for a corn or soybean field. But it is perfect land for grass pasture.
We stop at one of his pasture areas, a patch of healthy grass with pockets of trees and open areas with a diverse mix of grasses. There aren’t any cows to be seen. Then I hear rustling in the wooded area of the pasture and suddenly 80 cows slowly walk out from under the trees. Todd has found that cows prefer eating leaves from some trees to grass – he gives them the most choice he can, the cows know what is best to eat.
After a brief pause to check us out, the herd moves to the grassy areas to graze away. The land is on a 100 day grazing cycle – they won’t be back to this particular grazing area until the grass and trees have had plenty of time to use the fertilizer the cows will leave them to grow fresh leaves and grass.
This way of raising beef is in our community interests for a great many reasons – environmental, supporting our local economy, animal welfare, and many more.
And it tastes better.
Find out more about Thousand Hills on their website, www.thousandhillscattleco.com.
Their beef is widely available in co-ops and grocery stores around the metro area – a map is on their website – and also at Common Roots and other local food restaurants.