Farm Life Show (Ep.05) - FAQs and Details About our Cattle Operation

posted on

August 20, 2021


“I'm really proud of the fact that I can be a part of a food system that is building and can be something that our kids can be a part of and be proud of. The fact that I can come out here in the morning and be with the cattle and know that the way the cattle are being raised and being taken care of it is actually leaving our land better than it was when I was here yesterday. 

It's the constant improvement and knowing that the next generation and the consumers out there supporting our farm that’s exciting. That’s what gets me up in the morning, knowing that there are thousands of people that are behind the way we raise our animals and supporting farms like ours and others like it.” - Blake Hitzfield — Chief Ranching Officer (1st son)


On this episode of The Farm Life Show, Blake and Blaine sit down in the pasture among the cattle to discuss how the cows at Seven Sons are raised.  The brothers dispel some common misconceptions and myths about pasture-raised beef and its impact on the environment.Blake also sheds some light on why plant-based protein or “fake meat” actually does the planet more harm than good.


The Life of a Cow on Seven Sons FarmAt Seven Sons Farm, 200 cows (give or take) have over 500 acres of pasture to graze on. Using portable fencing, the cows are gently herded to a different section of the pasture each day, giving the soil and vegetation a chance to regenerate after grazing. Blake estimates that he builds over 100 miles of portable fencing a year.


Buried beneath the fields are almost 10 miles of water lines so that wherever the cows graze, they have an abundant supply of fresh, clean water.


Room to roam and access to fresh water is the antithesis way cows are treated in factory farms and feedlot grain systems. 40% of feedlot grain operations house from 30,000 to 35,000 animals on a single feedlot, crammed into a patch of land surrounded by concrete.Raising animals under such conditions is not only inhumane, but it also puts an enormous amount of stress on their physical and mental well-being. This is part of the reason why feedlot operations tend to pump their animals full of antibiotics and other chemicals. According to Blake, the cows at Seven Sons Farms are “in a calm environment where they can thrive and do well. They’re not stressed. They don’t need drugs and antibiotics.” Over 200 million pounds of antibiotics are used in livestock production each year, but they are only even used at Seven Sons to save the life of an animal. On the rare occasion when antibiotics are required to save the animal’s life, the cow is moved to a different farm. The sick cow doesn’t rejoin the herd.

Most commonly, when a cow gets sick they are simply taken to a separate part of the pasture to rest and recover. Typically, like with humans, that’s all a sick cow needs to get better. 

Our Approach to Humane harvesting

When the time comes for cattle to be harvested, it is done as humanely as possible. The cows don’t witness each other being harvested — another contrast with factory farms. Using a captive bolt, the cows are rendered unconscious immediately when harvested.


Myth #1 — Pasture-Raised Cattle Are Worse for the Environment

There’s a common misconception that because pasture-raised cows live longer than grain-fed feedlot cows, they produce more methane. Which, in turn, is worse for the environment.In reality, by grazing and helping vegetation regenerate naturally, pasture-raised cattle help sequester carbon from the atmosphere, which more than offsets any emissions.Unlike many other farms, no-tillage is done on at Seven Sons. We explored this principle of regenerative agriculture in the previous episode of The Farm Life Show. According to Blake: “Farming grain opens up the soil and puts carbon back into the atmosphere, so that model has a negative impact on the environment.”

Myth # 2 — Fake Meat Will Save the Planet

Plant-based protein or fake meat manufacturers often mislead people that no animals are killed in producing their products and that this makes them a more "ethical" choice.What they don't account for due to the massive amount of tillage required to grow grain, soybeans, etc. used to manufacture fake meat products, producers “kill off field mice, moles, the earthworms, all the life and biology that is supposed to be living in the soil. They’re destroying it all in that process.”  As Blaine puts it, “More animal lives and beating hearts are destroyed in a plant-based system than what you're seeing at Seven Sons. Life is being taken in any model of food production.

This Month’s Quiz!Check out the YouTube video and try to guess how many cows are grazing in the pasture. Leave your best guess in the comments. The person who comes closest (yes, we counted!) wins a $20 online gift credit.

Be sure to tune in for the next episode of The Farm Life Show.In the meantime, don’t forget to plant your pointer on that YouTube Like button and subscribe to make sure you never miss an episode.And don’t forget to “shake the hand that feeds you.”* *Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma

Farm Life Show

More from the blog

Nutritional and Health Benefits of Eating Beef Liver

Looking for a low-cost, highly nutritious centerpiece for your next meal? Then you need to try beef liver.  This often-overlooked organ meat is a nutritional powerhouse. It’s lean yet rich in protein, with high levels of vitamin A, B12, and iron. Plus, with its tender texture and creamy flavor, it’s as delicious as it is nutritious. Not only is beef liver super tasty and easy to cook, but it’s also a sustainable choice. When you buy beef liver and other ethically sourced organ meats, you help to ensure no part of the animal goes to waste.  Still a little uncertain? Let’s look at all the benefits of beef liver in more detail!  Nutritional Values of Beef Liver Did you know beef liver is the most nutrient-dense meat you can eat?  US Department of Agriculture data shows that a serving (113g) contains just 150 calories. Each bite is packed with vitamin A, zinc, iron, and more. But to get the full health benefits of beef liver, you’ll need to opt for grass-fed and grass-finished. GMO grains, antibiotics, and steroids compromise the cow’s liver quality and nutritional value. Studies show that grass-fed liver contains up to four times more nutrients than grain-fed. So, here’s the nutritional profile you can expect from grass-fed beef liver: High in Protein A serving of beef liver provides an impressive 23 grams of protein, making it an excellent source of essential amino acids.  Your body needs amino acids to build and repair muscle, maintain brain function, and balance blood sugar levels.  Plus, from a weight management perspective, beef liver helps keep you fuller for longer. So, you’re less likely to reach for an unhealthy snack after your meal. Rich in Vitamins Beef liver is abundant in plenty of essential vitamins your body needs to function optimally:  Vitamin A: One serving of beef liver has 380% of your body’s daily vitamin A needs. This vitamin is essential for healthy vision, glowing skin, and fighting free radicals.  B-complex vitamins: Beef liver contains almost half your RDA of several B vitamins. These are essential for nervous system health, mood regulation, and metabolic function. Packed with Minerals Beef liver is an excellent source of fatigue-fighting iron. A serving contains 30% of your daily intake.  But that’s not all. This tasty, tender meat also provides 50% of your daily selenium, 40% of your zinc, and 31% of your phosphorus requirements.  These vital minerals have powerful antioxidant properties. They play crucial roles in thyroid gland function, sleep regulation, and DNA production. Contains Coenzyme Q10 Beef liver is an excellent source of the antioxidant Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), offering 3 mg per 100g. CoQ10 protects cells from damage and maintains a healthy metabolism. Health Benefits of Eating Beef Liver Now that we’ve explored beef liver’s impressive nutritional profile, let’s delve into the benefits of incorporating it into your diet. Supports Immune Function Your ‘immunity’ is your body’s ability to fight off infections and prevent harmful cell changes. Beef liver contains plenty of vitamins and minerals to boost immune function.  Firstly, its A and B vitamins help your body maintain healthy, normal immune cells.  Plus, the iron and copper in beef liver encourage antibody production. This helps your body fight off toxic antigens that could make you sick.  Boosts Energy Levels A common cause of persistent fatigue is iron deficiency anemia. People get this when they don't have enough iron in their diet. Iron is vital for transporting oxygen to the muscles and brain. It plays a crucial role in both mental agility and physical performance. Low iron levels can even manifest as a lack of focus and increased irritability. Luckily, beef liver offers a delicious solution to this problem. It provides a healthy dose of iron to boost your energy levels. Plus, thanks to its vitamin and mineral content, beef liver also helps stabilize energy levels and promote restful sleep. Promotes Healthy Vision You’ve likely heard that munching on carrots can do wonders for your eyesight. That's because this vegetable contains plenty of vitamin A and retinol.  Vitamin A maintains optimal eye health in several ways. It fends off macular degeneration, tackles dry eyes, and bolsters sight in dimly lit environments. But you don't need to eat lots of carrots to get a healthy dose of vitamin A. Beef liver has three times the amount per 100 grams. Enhances Brain Health Beef liver is what's known as "brain food." This is because it supports healthy brain functioning.  In fact, Chicago Medical School found that people who regularly eat beef liver have better memory and a lower risk of Alzheimer's than others.  The omega-3 fatty acids in beef liver can also protect your brain as you age. Qingdao University found these nutrients directly protect against cognitive decline.  Improves Muscle Mass and Repair Adequate protein intake is crucial for sustaining and developing muscle mass. When you consume protein, your body breaks it down into amino acids. These amino acids are then used for tissue repair, hormone regulation, and energy synthesis. However, not all foods are complete proteins. This means they lack some of the nine essential amino acids your body needs.  Enter beef liver—a delicious, complete protein source. With over 20g of protein per serving, it’s a great choice for post-workout recovery or boosting daily protein intake. Supports Skin Health Another benefit of beef liver is that it can make you glow from the inside out. Firstly, it's rich in retinol. This vitamin promotes healthy cell turnover, giving you a fresh and clear complexion. Beef liver also contains youth-boosting peptides like glutathione and collagen. These help to maintain skin elasticity and firmness. The B vitamins in beef liver also support skin health. Vitamin B2, for example, repairs damaged skin cells and stimulates new growth. Vitamin B3, or niacin, keeps skin hydrated and inflammation at bay. Aids in Detoxification Besides being incredibly tasty, eating beef liver is also good for your liver. This is because it contains two important compounds:  Glutathione helps with detoxification, neutralizing harmful toxins that can damage the liver.  Choline prevents fat buildup in the liver, reducing the risk of fatty liver disease and promoting overall liver health. Precautions  While beef liver is healthy to eat, it’s essential to enjoy it as part of a balanced and diverse diet. That's because of its high vitamin A content.  Vitamin A is fat-soluble, meaning it's stored in the body. Consuming too much of it can be harmful. So, it's best to eat beef liver once a week for most people.  Certain demographics will need to be more cautious:  Pregnant women: Too much vitamin A has been linked to birth defects. It’s best that pregnant women avoid beef liver during pregnancy.  Gout sufferers: All organ meats are naturally high in purines. While eating purines is fine for most, people with gout should avoid high-purine foods. Try Our Delicious Grass-Fed Beef Liver Today! Now that you're familiar with beef liver's nutritious benefits, it's time to try it for yourself! Order Seven Sons’ grass-fed beef liver today and unlock the health benefits of this meat. 

Spring Pasture Update with Pictures

Spring is undoubtedly one of the busier seasons on the farm. Not only is there so much new life on the farm (as I'll detail below), but we are also cleaning up from winter and embarking on a number of new projects for the 2024 grass-growing season. Again, while we're known for producing and selling clean, delicious and nutrient-dense meats for home delivery, when you're regenerative-focused farmers like my brothers and I, you first identify as a grass farmer. We are not only responsible for raising your animals with the utmost care and respect, but also building integrity and life into the soil and environment where they live and prosper.

Best Breed of Chicken for Ethical Pastured Meat

When it comes to cooking, few things rival the satisfaction of a perfectly cooked, flavorful chicken dish. However, the secret to culinary success isn’t just in the recipe. It’s in the quality of the chicken itself.  Meat quality and affordability have a lot to do with the chicken breed – and, more crucially – how it was raised.  In this article, I will unpack some of the unknowns about chicken breeds, and how consumer expectations continue to shape the future of poultry.  Our ethical pastured chicken is different than what you’ll find at most supermarkets.  Here’s our approach, starting with selecting the most effective chicken breed for meat. Why Breed Matters for Quality, Flavor & Affordability You’ve probably never thought of chicken breeds in the way you would cattle breeds. While you may have heard of breeds like Wagyu and Angus when it comes to steak, people typically purchase chicken based on whether it’s free-range or pasture-raised.  But that’s not the only thing that matters. The breed of chicken plays a significant role in meat quality and taste.  While you might think ‘heritage’ chicken is the way to go, unfortunately, that’s far from the case due to several factors outside of our farm’s control. Historically chicken breeds were always used for the dual purpose of producing both eggs and meat. However, within the past 100 years, chickens have been bred for the specific purposes of either meat or eggs, not both. This has led to hyper-efficient breeds that have set high standards for the texture, tenderness, and affordability of chicken protein. Heritage birds like the Ancona and Sussex are small, and their flavor profile is unusual. Because of this, heritage breeds can end up with a gamey, woody taste and tough texture–nothing like the chicken you’re used to. Also, because heritage breeds are small and grow slowly, you don’t get a lot of meat for your money - making these breeds out of reach for the budgets of 99% of consumers. The optimum chicken breed–and the one we exclusively raise at Seven Sons and in our farm partner network–is the Cornish Cross Broiler. Originating in England in the 1820s, these hybrid birds meet consumers’ quality and affordability expectations while still allowing us to invest extra care in raising the birds ethically on pasture as the seasons allow. From their impressive double breasts to their ideal muscle-to-fat ratio, Cornish Cross chickens consistently deliver on taste and tenderness. This makes them the gold standard for those seeking delicious, protein-rich meat that's both hearty and flavorful.  Sustainable Practices and Their Impact on Meat Quality However, it’s not just the breed of chicken that matters. How they’re raised plays a crucial role in the quality of the meat as well.  Ethically raised chickens with access to pastures can have better nutritional value and offer a more diverse taste and texture profile.  The reasons for this are three-fold:  Space to roam: Chickens raised in a way that allows them to roam free and express their natural behaviors develop better muscle than poultry raised in tight confinement. Better nutrition: Pasture-raised chickens are more nutritious because they eat a diverse, nutrient-dense diet through foraging on healthy farmland and non-GMO grain. Happy lives: Stress impacts the quality and taste of the meat. That’s why buying ethically sourced meat is so important – not just for the welfare of the animal, but the nutritional value, too.  Meet our Chicken Breeds: The Stars at Seven Sons As we’ve mentioned, the Cornish Cross Broiler is our choice of breed. With its history and lineage, this chicken breed combines the qualities of Cornish Chickens with the larger sizes seen in breeds like the White Rock. The result is a large, lean bird that produces succulent, tender meat. Here’s an overview of the Key characteristics of the Cornish Cross: Appearance: These majestic birds have broad chests and short legs. They also have a muscular build with a large breast area. Males typically weigh between 6-8 pounds, while females weigh between 4-6 pounds. Weather Tolerance: Our Cornish Cross chickens require attentive care as seasons change. During winter, providing ample shelter ensures their warmth and protection. In the heat of summer, they seek shade, ventilation, and cool water to beat the heat. Temperament: These docile, friendly animals rely on breeders for protection against predators like raccoons, foxes, and birds of prey. With secure mobile coops during summer production and access to lush pastures year around (including as weather permits in winter), we prioritize their safety while nurturing their natural behaviors. Raising Practices: From Hatchling to Harvest At Seven Sons, every decision we make, from the poultry breeds we raise to our farming practices, is rooted in our dedication to quality, sustainability, and animal welfare. Choosing Cornish Cross hens from Seven Sons, raised with a focus on regenerative farming practices, means you’re aligning with a farm deeply committed to the nutrients of our food and the ethical treatment of animals. Caring for Our Animals We don’t just raise our chickens for their meat. We do all we can to take the best care of them.  During the balmy summer months, they enjoy the freedom to roam in spacious mobile coops, where they can peck and scratch in fresh, sun-kissed pastures. Each day brings a new rotation to ensure they have access to the best forage and plenty of space to thrive, while protecting the natural ecosystem. When the winter chill descends, we provide our chickens with plenty of warmth and shelter in cozy barns with pasture access as weather permits, ensuring their well-being when the temperature drops. The indoor space is kept warm, and the birds are given 10-20% more space beyond what organic standards require. The winter barns also have windows that let in plenty of natural light, allowing our birds to wake up with the natural sunrise. Caring for Our Land Our commitment to ethical farming doesn't end there. We also embrace regenerative grazing practices that nurture our chickens and the land they roam on. One of the overlooked elements of CAFOs is their impact on the environment. Not only are factory-farmed chickens' lives incredibly stressful, but they don’t get to play their natural role in boosting environmental biodiversity.  Our chickens, on the other hand, play a crucial part in the ecosystem of our sustainable farm, helping to:  Enhance Soil Health: Through natural foraging and scratching, our chickens contribute to soil health, enriching it with organic matter and fostering vital microbial activity. Provide Natural Fertilizer: The nutrient-rich manure produced by our chickens serves as a natural fertilizer, promoting robust plant growth and reducing reliance on synthetic alternatives. Pest Control: Harnessing our chickens' instincts, we utilize them as a pest control mechanism, feasting on insects, larvae, and weed seeds, eliminating the need for chemical pesticides. Caring for Our Customers  At Seven Sons and our partner farms, you're not just making a transaction when you choose to buy from us. You're entering into a relationship built on trust and mutual respect for your well-being. For us, this means holding ourselves to the highest standards when it comes to the meat we produce. We firmly believe that food should never pose a risk to your health. It should be a source of nourishment and vitality. That's why we’re deeply committed to providing quality, natural nutrition to our animals: our chickens are raised on a diet free from GMOs, antibiotics, drugs, and hormones. We believe in the power of natural, wholesome nutrition to support a healthy lifestyle. By choosing our products, you can rest assured that you're making a choice that prioritizes your health and the health of your loved ones. Preparing Chicken: Tips and Tricks Sure, you may have cooked with chicken breasts or thighs–maybe even a whole chicken–but we sell plenty of other incredibly tasty and nutritious cuts of chicken. From drumsticks to wings, backs to giblets, each cut offers its own unique flavor profile and cooking experience. Our ethically raised Cornish Cross Broilers are nutritious and easy to cook. This generously sized bird is protein-packed and nutrient-dense, making for a delicious meal whether grilled, baked, barbecued, or slow-cooked.  How you prepare your chicken will depend on the cooking method and cut you’ve chosen–and there are plenty to choose from! Order Your Ethical Pasture-Raised Chicken Today!  Ready to taste the difference? Order your ethically pasture-raised chicken now and taste the quality and flavor that comes from ethical breeding and sustainable practices.