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We need your help to feed our cows!
TK Ranch has been a steward of the endangered Northern Fescue Grasslands of east-central Alberta for over 60 years. There are only 4% of this grassland ecosystem left in the world and it needs protection. Raising livestock to the highest pasture based animal welfare standards in North America and managing the land in a way that enhances biodiversity has always been our goal. For over 25 years we have provided nutrient dense grass-fed and finished beef & lamb and pasture raised pork to Alberta families. We have received local, provincial and national awards for our commitment to animal welfare and environmental stewardship.
Raising livestock with a focus on animal welfare and environmental sustainability takes a lot of time and caring attention. Many people don't realize that because we retain ownership of our animals from birth to the consumer it's a very expensive enterprise. On average it costs $700 per year to feed one animal and it takes approximately 2.5 years for it to be grass finished - almost double the time compared to conventionally raised grain-fed beef. This cost does not include any other expenses - just feed - and last year the price of feed more than doubled because of widespread drought across Alberta. We have 300 mama cows on TK Ranch as well as their calves from this year, their calves from last year and half of their calves from the year before. When you add all of them together this makes for a lot of mouths to feed.
The extra time it takes to finish our animals means that our meat products are more expensive than those found in grocery stores. Our business is tied to the Alberta economy and the recession has understandably caused many of our customers to reduce their spending. Especially the current economic crisis we're all finding ourselves in. Soaring inflation and fuel prices are seriously impacting our business. We're very innovative and have been working tirelessly to diversify our income, but several years of sustained drought and having to purchase expensive winter feed has tapped our financial resources. We have been selecting our cows based on their natural abilities to finish on grass - not grain - for 40 years. They are the foundation of all that we do.
The summer of 2023 saw a return to very dry conditions, our local municipality declared an agricultural disaster this summer. Add grasshoppers to the drought and you can appreciate how dire things are looking here.
What's also devastating is that the government changed its pasture insurance this spring from satellite monitoring to rainfall deficiency. For the last 30 years satellite photos were used to determine how dry an area was and this was an effective method. This year they asked us to select three weather stations in proximity to our ranch, but the only ones available were 15 to 30 kms away. This summer they all received rain, but we didn't. We pay close to $24,000 for this insurance premium and rely on the claim to help pay for winter feed. It looks like this year they're not going to give us a fall payment.
Any amount you can spare to help us buy winter feed is greatly appreciated. It will help keep our beloved cows home!