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What type of ranch is Wickens Ranch?

Wickens Ranch is a fourth-generation working ranch. We raise predominantly Black Angus cattle on pasture using Allan Savory's grazing methods. Known as “regenerative agriculture,” this high- intensity, low-duration grazing approach allows us to return organic matter back to the soil faster, which makes the water, mineral, and nutrient cycles much more effective — naturally. By purchasing from us, you support an agricultural model that is becoming more and more unusual in the US: a non-corporate, single-family-owned farm or ranch. You also support our vision of stewardship and sustainability, and the big-picture concept that we should honor these animals, the plants they eat, and the land that supports us all.

What is the connection between grazing cattle and sustaining healthy landscapes?

60 million bison used to roam North America. Large herds would graze the lands we now call Wickens Ranch — staying together for safety from wolves and grizzlies, foraging one area with high intensity and then moving on. Their collective mass trampled the grasses and earth, breaking up the soil cap. Their manure and urine fertilized the soil, as they stomped plant material and their natural refuse back down to feed the soil's healthy microbes. Their hoofprints would create aeration, natural pockets for water to collect and water the roots of plants. The herds of bison would move on and not return for months or longer, giving the perennial plant roots time to regrow. Bison no longer roam these landscapes, but with strategic, holistic range management, our cattle herds provide the same nutrient-cycling benefits of their wild cousins. Using movable electric fences, we emulate the movements of wild bison herds — our cows stay together just as bison would for protection from predators, foraging one area with high intensity and then moving on. Because the pasturelands are given time to regenerate, our cows enjoy long seasons of hardy, healthy, nutrient-dense grasses. And because the grasses can regrow and deepen their roots, soil health increases, and erosion decreases. Everything needs a breath, a chance to recover — even grass and soil.

How has regenerative agriculture impacted Wickens Ranch?

Since Wickens Ranch implemented practices to increase the health of our lands and our animals, we have watched the landscape flourish in ways we haven't seen in decades. Areas that were once just "wet bottoms" are now flowing spring creeks, thanks to better protection from erosion. With a fresh abundance of native plants, we are also witness to wild animals not seen for many years, their native home restored. Ancient dung beetles, nature's nutrient recyclers, have returned. Ever seen year-old cow pies, scattered across a field, drying out instead of breaking down? Now that our cattle's dung is free from pour-over antibiotics, it is an attractive home for these ecological marvels, part of a thriving microcosm. There’s no pointless biowaste in a truly healthy ecosystem — everything is connected, and everything has a purpose.

How are your cattle finished?

Our cattle are pea/barley-finished. The field peas come from nearby farms in northern central Montana. When farmers bring their peas in from the fields, they are sized and sorted for human consumption, and anything too small or cracked is sold to us. The barley and straw comes from neighboring farms. The hay comes from our own fields. During months when snow covers our grass pastures, Wickens Ranch cattle are fed a 50% roughage (hay and straw) 50% pea/barley diet. This is vastly healthier compared to typical American feedlots, which feed 90% corn-based products and 10% roughage.

Why Peas?

Peas for used for a couple of reasons Availability - There is a large supply close to us which lowers footprint and provides more revenue for local farmers, Quality - Pea finished beef is a fantastic eating experience. Also Montana is the nation's No. 1 producer of field peas.

Are the cattle harvested humanely?

This is important to us. We are ethically bound to treat the animals in our care with the highest standards of stewardship and care. We husband these animals throughout their life, and are adamant that the harvest of our beef be done with no stress and no pain. The animals are handled quietly and dispatched instantly.

How are your calves weaned?

In late fall, our calves are weaned using a peaceful, low-stress method called "fenceline" weaning. Calves and mothers can see, hear, and smell one another, but cannot nurse. This eliminates nearly all the stress involved with the transition, creating an environment that supports both baby and mother until the calves are ready to move on. Once the calves are weaned, they receive a mix of hay, straw, green and yellow field peas, barley, and a mineral supplement to support their nutrient needs.

How is your beef packaged?

Our beef is vacuum packaged individually and flash-frozen. The packaging is transparent for easy identification in your freezer. Meat packed in vacuum packs will never freezer burn, unless the vacuum pack is punctured or compromised. We caution our buyers to handle their vacuum pack meat carefully to avoid putting holes in the packaging..

Who processes Wickens Ranch Beef?

We are proud to have Montana plants partner with us to process our beef safely, humanely, and with the highest quality standards.

Is your beef inspected by the USDA?

Our Montana processor, is a USDA-inspected facility, with an inspector examining every animal individually.

Does freezing beef affect its quality?

As they say, “frozen is fresher!” Freezing beef is actually the best way to ensure its taste, tenderness, safety, and overall high quality is preserved — so it's in perfect condition when it arrives at your door.

Sustainable land management practices.

Our family ranch is at the forefront of regenerative agriculture, grazing our cattle based on Allan Savory's principles. We are participating in a global movement, working to restore and strengthen the health of the world's grasslands through holistic management of our cattle and our landscapes.

Local Food

Through our platform you can have a personal connection with the source of your beef while enjoying the modern conveniences of online shopping and contactless home delivery.

Dry-aged, vacuum-sealed, flash-frozen.

Our beef is butchered in independently-owned, USDA-inspected plants, here in Montana, where it dry-ages for 14 days. The aging process results in an intensified flavor and unbeatable tenderness. Then the meat is vacuum-sealed and flash-frozen to preserve its taste and juiciness, with the added benefits of safety, convenience, and less food waste. From there, it’s ready to ship directly to your freezer.

Grass-fed, pea-finished cattle.

Compared with typical corn-finished cows, our cattle mature at a slower, more natural pace and given a full additional summer of grazing free on healthy Montana grass. Yearlings are finished in Wickens Ranch feedlots with food-grade green and yellow peas, and garbanzo beans, grown and harvested by our neighbors. Finishing cattle on these local, human-grade legumes creates a more delicious beef product, without ever sacrificing the animal's health.

Delivered direct to your door.

When you order Wickens Ranch beef there is no complicated supply chain, no “country of origin” labeling issues. Full confidence in the quality and integrity of the beef you feed your family. Our desire is to bring rural and urban back together over the dinner table, through beef you can trace, trust, and love to cook.

Generational ranchers who love and respect the land.

Humus and humanus — Latin for fertile ground and human — share their root word. Even in Hebrew, the name Adam translates to the man who was made from the ground. We believe the relationship between humans and the earth is ancient and vital — and remembering this relationship, protecting it through healthy agricultural practices, is necessary for humanity's shared wellbeing. 

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