Whirlwind Tour of 6S Beef from Birth to Harvest ...

written by

Joy Stephens

posted on

June 13, 2022

Hi 6S Farm Fans!

Have you been wondering "what's up with the skinny beef inventory these days?". 

If you have ... you're not alone. We've had a number of people asking ...

"Where's the Beef?" 

Now I could just answer that question with some boring facts and statistics about the ins and outs of grass fed beef production here in the North but what fun would that be?

Nope. That's not how we roll. 

Instead, I'm going to take you on an expeditious tour of beef from birth to harvest at 6S. 

... hold onto your hats ... here we go ...

Meet 'Zazoo'. This old cow has never missed a beat. 

In fact she was our first cow to calve this year and is now busy raising a sturdy little bull calf we've dubbed "Kazoo". (It's a 'K' year in the cattle breeding world which means that all calves born this year will receive a name that begins with a K.) 

Kazoo and his buddies will spend their first months of life romping and playing in the green, green pastures of 6S Family Farm. 

Like this one ...

Or this one ...

Or this one ...

But most definitely NOT this one ...

In order to give our calves the very best start in life, we arrange our calving season to commence during the warm spring days of June. In an effort to mimic the wisdom we see in the natural systems all around us, we time the highest nutritional needs of the mother cow to meet the initial flush of spring grass. Also, with the warmer days and nights we never have to worry about our baby calves being born in a blizzard. This might seem like a no-brainer but most cattle producers in Canada are still calving in the above conditions. Yikes!

Mooo-ving on ...

(I know that's so cheesy but it never gets old!) 😆

Kazoo and his buddies will stay with their mothers throughout their whole first winter. By the time they're weaned at about 10 months old they're already in their 'gangly teenage' stage and have learned all the skills needed to be great cows. 

Here's a look at them at about a year of age ...

(see what I mean about the gangly teenager thing?)

They'll spend their second summer

eating and eating

and growing and growing

like all teenagers do. 

After a full summer of eating, living the good life and lounging around watching those farmers run around like crazy people, 🤪the herd will mooove back into a winter of bale grazing out on the land to keep improving those pastures. 

You're doing great ... stay with me here ...

we're getting closer to those steaks!

During the following summer the beef animals will finally start to lay down that all important layer of fat and intermuscular marbling that makes your eating experience so divine! 

Having beautifully "finished" beef is no accident. 

It's part art and part science. 

Finishing animals require an excellent diet of diverse, fresh forages to ensure tenderness and palatability. Their forage quality and availability, health levels and stress levels throughout their entire lives affect the finished product you taste on your plate.

That's why we work so hard to have lush, diverse, beautiful, nutrient dense pastures here at 6S and also one of the reasons we've chosen to use low stress animal handling practices and humane harvest practices. You can read more about those protocols here if you'd like.

 As you might imagine, our Northern winters also make it challenging to have grass fed beef available year round. We tend to experience a "skinny beef inventory season" right about this time of year as we're selling out of our current stock but still waiting for the grass to mature and the animals to reach the final stages of finish quality.  

We are currently working to graze the animals rotationally for optimum performance and appropriate weight gain to reach the proper finish but it does take some time ... like all good things do. 

There you have it farm fans. Pasture to plate beef in a 4 minute read!

Thanks for coming along for the whirlwind tour!

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