There are many factors that affect beef quality, as well as the animal’s quality of life. Two of these factors include where the cattle are raised and how they are handled by the owners. As with humans, stress causes an adrenaline rush in cattle. Adrenaline acts directly on the muscle by breaking down glycogen and changing the pH, or acidity of the muscle. Even short-term stress causes changes in the muscle creating a tougher meat product. Long term stressors cause even further damage resulting in discolored, tough, and tasteless beef.
It is important for us to be very transparent with our customers on how and where we raise our cattle.
All of our beef cattle are born and raised on the ranch. From birth, our cattle reside in large mountainous pastures in North Central Montana. We grow and harvest our own hay which we feed throughout the winter, and our beef cattle are finished on the barley fodder we grow in our hydroponic plant on the ranch. The cattle are never confined in small pastures or feedlots, and always have access to mountain springs, creeks and reservoirs to water.
Gentle cattle handling is of utmost importance in our operation. Almost all of our cattle work is done on horseback instead of ATV’s. My great grandfather was a great horseman, and the tradition has been passed down each generation. Horses provide a much more natural and less stressful environment for the cattle than motorized vehicles.
When working cattle in the corrals, we do not use electric cattle prods. Moving cattle through a corral system is most effective when it is a calm, quiet environment and the handlers understand how the cattle respond to body language and angles. This is a learned skill, and a large part of our job as ranchers. We take this portion of our job very seriously. It is our art, and one of the most enjoyable parts of ranching for us.
Doing our work on horseback also preserves tradition. It’s a skill that we have passed down generation to generation. My Grandpa Bob is 91 years old, and just a few short years ago he was still riding with us. Three generations of McCafferty’s could be seen riding together on the original homestead. Now my daughter’s true love is horses and riding her horse, Jane. The very horse I grew up on. Although I don’t know what my dad was thinking, letting me ride a 3 year old colt at the ripe age of 8! In his defense he was breaking colts at about that age…
If you have any questions about how or where we raise our cattle we are more than happy to answer! Follow along with us on Instagram to view more of our daily life, and get a better feel for our ranching philosophy.