Janelle and Roy Moses raise Certified Humane® grass-fed beef on a 128-acre farm in Wapato, Washington. Their family farm, Holy Cow Grass-Fed Beef, has 180 cattle and is operated solely by the couple and “some good neighbors who help us out a few times a year.”
“When I call to my cows, they all turn around and ‘moo’ at me,” says Janelle. “All you have to do is open the gate and they come running into the new pasture. Our vet says we have some really laid back cows.”
Janelle and Roy come from a family of farmers. Janelle’s farm background extends back more than 200 years. Her dad was a row crop farmer, her grandparents raised chickens, and her grandmother milked cows and raised pigs. “My dad used to say ‘dirt runs in our veins,’” she said.
Roy was a North Dakota farm boy whose family raised crops via dryland farming – an agricultural technique that taps into the moisture stored in soil to grow crops, rather than using irrigation or rainfall. Dryland farming was a staple of agriculture for millennia in the American West, before dams, aquifers and irrigation systems.
Even though they came from a family of farmers, Janelle and Roy didn’t start Holy Cow Grass-fed beef until the couple was in their 50s. That’s when they bought the 128-acre farm and decided that farming would be a good retirement plan.
When Janelle told her dad they were going to produce Angus/Limousin grass-fed beef, her dad said, “Holy cow, grass-fed beef?” recalled Janelle. “He was amazed and thrilled I was following in his footsteps and the ‘holy cow’ stuck.”
The couple irrigates their farm with rain water, grows grass from seed, and plants four different types of clover for their cows. “It’s sweet, high in protein and the cows love it,” Janelle says.
The cows can spend the night on the back pasture where there is lots of fresh grass to eat or visit the dry pasture where the Moses’ set out hay and extra food. They collect the waste from the dry pasture area to make fertilizer for their grass crops.
They have 4 high marbling angus bulls and 100 heifers who can roam the entire farm to breed naturally. When the heifers give birth, the calves are tagged pink and blue, depending on their sex. The calves are allowed to remain with their mother until the next calf arrives, which occurs 9 months later. “We try to keep them together as much as possible,” says Janelle. “We help them ween off their mom around 7 months, so she has a break from nursing. But the calf remains with her until the second calf arrives and her focus is on the new calf. Then and only then do we separate them.”
The Moses’ says they chose the Certified Humane Raised and Handled® certification to demonstrate to their customers their commitment to animal welfare. Everything is grown naturally and chemical-free. They plant native grasses, grow grass seed for the cows, and raised grass-fed and grass-finished beef on prime farm land, which they rotate for optimal grazing for the animals.
Most people raise beef on hillsides or grazing land, but they have the kind of fertile crop land soils that makes is ideal for the high quality grass the animals enjoy.
The couple believes “there is a right and wrong way to treat animals,” said Janelle. “It makes sense to keep your animals happy and healthy, free of stress and eating high-quality diets. The Certified Humane® program goes hand-in-hand with our animal welfare policies. Because we are inspected every year, we receive feedback and know we’re doing a good job on raising our animals humanely.”
Certified Humane® Holy Cow Grass Fed beef is available from their website at holycowgrassfed.com for residents in California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho residents.
Check out the Certified Humane “Where to Buy” page at http://certifiedhumane.org/take-action-for-farm-animals/shop/#/map or download the free Certified Humane App, by going to the App store for IPhone or Google Play for androids.