Where the Impact Happens
Our Farmers & Ranchers
Our producers are all Audubon Certified Conservation Ranches. Each operation is doing great things for birds, carbon, water, and all of life. Although each may fill a different role in their ecosystem and watershed, they may also occupy different roles in our supply chain.
Most ranching acres in America have mostly mama cows and exist primarily to produce calves. Sometimes these calves go to a “stocker operator” for more time in pastures. But because our beef is also 100% grassfed, all animals coming to us MUST go to a grass “finisher” - the regenerative alternative to a feedlot.
We’re just getting started, but enabling more life to grow in each of these fields is directly tied to our purpose, so watch us grow on this map:
The biggest missing link in the grassfed supply chain is the finisher - the pasture alternative to a feedlot. It sounds easy, but there is much skill and art to producing a high quality product that you will savor while also having positive impact. So far, these are the families that finish the beef you buy:
Godfrey Farms - Newkirk, OK
ACR Certified: Aug 2019
Bill Godfrey is part of our Blue Nest Beef leadership team, but he also has his own family farm operation. We’re getting this whole thing started with Godfrey Farms as Finisher #1. Bill is one of the most experienced and accomplished grass finishers in the country, and his place also happens to be located in the heart of the Central Flyway. Primary goals for the ACR Habitat Management Plan (HMP) on Godfrey Farms are to: 1) provide diverse structure for grassland-dependent wildlife; 2) improve and expand native grass production by controlling woody invasive plant species; 3) improve water infrastructure to limit grazing pressure on riparian areas; and 4) track bird abundance, habitat and range production to adapt management annually. If you are one of our early subscribers, chances are some of your beef will be coming from Godfrey Farms.
Dennis Hoyle - Roscoe, SD
ACR Certified: Apr 2018
Dennis Hoyle is current Chairman of the South Dakota Soil Health Coalition and also serves as an Edmunds County Commissioner and Advisor to the Edmunds County Conservation District. Dennis runs a cow-calf operation that also finishes grassfed beef as well as a wild pheasant hunting enterprise. He thus has a deep understanding of the interdependencies between healthy soils, healthy livestock and healthy bird habitat. The primary goals of Dennis’ HMP are: 1) provide diverse structure for grassland-dependent wildlife, including birds, 2) provide bird-friendly cover on crop-land, and 3) track bird abundance, habitat and range production and adapt management. Dennis supplied high quality grass finished cattle for the first truck load going to Blue Nest Beef in Sept 2019.
Learn more about Dennis and his approaching to ranching in this short video.
Wagner Land & Livestock - Chamberlain, SD
ACR Certified: Oct 2017
Husband and wife team Larry Wagner and Dr. Julie Williams DVM run their operation near the Missouri River in central South Dakota where the majority of their land was previously used for cropping and they converted it back to grass. They’ve thoughtfully and carefully developed their herd genetics over the years for best performance on grass. Primary goals from their ACR HMP include: 1) provide diverse vegetation structure of grassland-dependent birds, 2) maintain diverse open grasslands, and 3) track success making changes over time. Larry & Julie had some of their cattle on the first truck load going to Blue Nest Beef in Sept 2019.
Leone Valley Ranch - Wessington Springs, SD
ACR Certified: Sep 2019
Jeannie Franceus owns and manages a ranch that her parents bought more than 50 years ago. Her appreciation for wildlife was instilled as a child, sitting with Grandma by her big picture window, viewing birds outside and identifying them in her 1923 Bird Guide (which Jeannie treasures to this day). Compared to cattle on their farm, these tiny creatures seemed insignificant, but seeing how Grandma valued them instilled in Jeannie a lasting awe and appreciation. She originally thought that she would have to remove cattle from the land in order to enhance habitat for prairie birds. BUT she was amazed to learn that removing cattle would make life harder for native species, whose ancestors thrived where bison herds roamed. She learned that well-managed grazing is actually necessary for optimum habitat for many prairie species, so she is now employing grazing practices that mimic the bison, while enhancing life for pollinators, birds and other wildlife. Primary goals of her HMP are: 1) provide high-quality grassland bird habitat annually, 2) protect insect diversity on the ranch, 3) protect riparian areas on the ranch, and 4) monitor bird and vegetation response to management making changes as needed. Jeannie is proud of her Audubon Certification, appreciates their guidance, and is excited to learn more as they guide in her Holistic Management Plan.
Learn more about Jeannie & her ranch in this short video.
Rockin' 7 Ranch - Shawnee, WY
ACR Certified: Mar 2018
Brad Reese's great, great grandparents homesteaded the Rockin' 7 in eastern Wyoming in 1914. It sits at the transition zone between sagebrush steppe to the west and rolling shortgrass prairie to the east. The ranch includes and is adjacent to large tracts of native rangelands and includes ~10,000 acres of Wyoming Core Area Sage-Grouse Habitat. Although many acres were previously farmed, remaining farming is conducted using principles to improve soil health and thousands of acres have been converted back to permanent pasture. Brad, Heather and their 4 children live on the ranch where they also operate a hunting enterprise. Primary goals of the Rockin' 7 HMP are: 1) utilize a grazing system that improves native plant community and rangeland bird habitat heterogeneity; 2) implement invasive and/or noxious weed prevention on the ranch; 3) maintaining quality water resources across grazed lands by managing livestock use and habitat conditions for rangeland birds; and 4) monitoring bird diversity and abundance.
Cougar Valley Ranch - Shawnee, WY
ACR Certified: Dec 2017
Cougar valley Ranch is a mom and pop ranch located on the edge of the pine ridge which comes down out of the Black Hills from South Dakota. It is on the southern edge in the central easter Wyoming just north of Shawnee. The Henderson family currently run all natural, grass finished Angus cattle and manages for optimal usage of livestock and wildlife that live on the ranch. The ranch is home to mule deer, antelope, elk, badger, coyotes, bobcats, rabbits and turkeys and over 70 bird species documented in Audubon bird counts. They manage diverse soil types that range from rugged pin and cedar coveralls to open rolling sage plains. The goals of their HMP are: (coming soon)
Priority Birds: Greater Sage-Grouse,
Fiddleback Ranch - Meetetsee, WY
ACR Certified: Oct 2017
The Fiddleback Ranch is located in north central Wyoming where it has unique connectivity to large expanses of shortgrass prairie habitat important to many nesting grassland and sagebrush-grassland birds. It lies at a transitional zone between sagebrush-steppe to the west and contiguous plains of rolling shortgrass Praire to the east. The Hagen family live on the ranch and operate a multi-layered enterprise including not only the cattle, but lodging, hunting and weddings. The goals of the Fiddleback HMP are: 1) utilize a grazing system that improves native plant community and grassland bird habitat; 2) implement invasive and/or noxious weed prevention on the ranch; 3) grassland restoration and enhancement; 4) equipping all stock water tanks with wildlife escape routes; and 5) monitoring bird diversity and abundance.
Once we get this operation rolling, we will likely be working with one or more ‘stocker operators.’ The role of the stocker operator can vary by region, season and market condition, but all take in calves and then sell on heavy feeders to a ‘finisher.’
This is where it all begins and where the most impact can happen because cow-calf producers occupy the most land area is in any beef supply chain. Rewarding these folks for regenerating life in their fields is central to our own purpose, but we want you to appreciate them as well.