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Please find following the most common — and not so common — questions about TK Ranch. These questions will talk about how our program differs from other natural, organic or conventional farms and ranches. We will be will including a table showing the direct comparisons between these production methods so that you, the consumer, can compare apples to apples — or more likely apples to oranges.
Having trouble placing an order? Our new website was launched the end of August and a few people have been having issues adjusting to the new format. If you have any trouble please call us at 403-854-8532 and we’ll do our best to help or take your order over the phone.
Home Delivery: we use a small Alberta based courier to offer home delivery once a week to many communities in Alberta. The courier delivers along the Hwy 2 corridor from High River to Fort Saskatchewan. They also offer weekly runs west of Calgary to Canmore, Banff and Lake Louise. The courier will travel up to 30 kms east or west of Hwy 2 so if if your community is not listed please contact us and we'll see if home delivery is available!
We do not use sub-therapeutic antibiotics to raise livestock (where animals are continuously given antibiotics throughout their lives to prevent disease). We will use antibiotics therapeutically on sick or injured animals to reduce stress and suffering because not doing so would be inhumane. Very few of our livestock ever get treated because of our program parameters, less than 2%, and there is a very long withdrawal time (usually two years) before being processed into our meat program.
Our animals are never given any growth hormones (or steroids). It is important to understand that chickens and pigs are not given artificial growth hormones in the conventional system, but are fed antibiotics as an artificial growth stimulant instead. We do not use these in our TK Ranch program either.
None of the animals in our program ever receive animal by-products in their feed. This is an important question because some consumers believe that after Mad Cow Disease happened that the feeding of animal by-products was banned in Canada and the US. This is not true — as long as an animal is not fed its own species — i.e.: cows being fed cows — it is still allowed. Cows are still routinely fed rendered chicken and pork by-products as a way to decrease costs — animal by-products are high in protein and help an animal to grow more quickly. Unless you know for a fact that the meat you are consuming does not have animal by-products (for example all grain fed chicken) you can be fairly certain that it is.
Rumensin is an ionophore that many farmers and ranchers use to prevent a serious condition in cattle and sheep called acidosis. This is caused by feeding ungulates (grass eaters) high carbohydrate grain rations that they're not naturally designed to digest. As a result of this they get sick. The pharmaceutical industry invented ionophores to prevent acidosis so that cattle and sheep could be finished more quickly on grain. Unfortunately many consumers have not heard of ionophores and so do not know to ask about them. In addition to this, some people in the livestock industry do not consider ionophores antibiotics so do not divulge this very important fact to their customers. We believe that ionophores are antibiotics and as a consumer you should ask this important question of your natural beef supplier.
We do not use any chemical insecticides on animals that are processed into our meat program. Occasionally we will feed diatomaceous earth (a fossilized tiny diatom), or other natural ingredients like garlic, as a de-wormer and for external parasites. It's been decades since we've used chemcial insecticides routinely on TK Ranch and for this reason we were selected to participate in a federal government program studying resistance. Researchers found that our cattle had developed natural resistance to parasites. In fact, when compared to livestock that had been treated with chemical insecticides, our cattle had much less without treatment. On TK Ranch we've seen what these insecticides do to the natural cycle when they're deposited in fresh manure — no insects or bugs will touch it. Instead it sits on the surface of the ground and dries out. On TK Ranch it only takes a few minutes for a fresh pile of manure to be covered with flies and beetles. Within a couple of days it is reduced to very little and returns to the soil. This is just another example of how a simple decision can affect more than just the animal treated, but also the ecosystem it depends upon.
On TK Ranch the terms grass-fed and grass finished mean the same thing — that we do not feed our cattle grain from birth to slaughter. Many producers in the Alberta marketplace that are selling “grass-fed beef” are actually selling grain finished beef. It is up to you as a consumer to ask if the animal ever gets grain and if they are confined in a feedlot for the last few months before being processed. Please see grass-fed and grass finished beef article for more information.
We do not use large factory processing plants because they cannot meet our program protocols regarding animal welfare (every animal is individually handled to decrease stress) and quality (dry-aging and value-added processing). The two large processing plants in Alberta are Cargill in High River and JBS in Brooks and they both process 4200 animals every day. We built our own government inspected abattoir on TK Ranch to manage all aspects of the slaughter process and we treat every animal with the utmost care and respect. We currently process 10 beef and 6 pigs every week and occasionally lamb. When you compare these numbers to large factory processors you can appreciate how small and niche our meat program actually is.
Cattle are raised many different ways in Alberta. Understanding these differences is important if you are trying to make informed decisions about the meat you are buying. Everything we do on TK Ranch hinges upon food safety, animal welfare and environmental stewardship.