BELLEVUE, Iowa — Jamie Hostetler has a passion for grass-fed beef. As a farmer and grazier, he is motivated by the challenges and benefits of raising top-quality grass-fed beef; as a consumer, he loves eating the finished product. But he’ll be the first to tell you this wasn’t always the case.
Jamie and his family operate Rolling Meadows Farm on 300 acres near Bellevue and have been raising grass-fed beef since 2006, but he says his first time eating it was underwhelming. “When we as a family decided to start eating and raising grass-fed beef, I remember bringing some home, grilling it and looking over at my wife and saying, ‘I hope I don’t have to put up with this the rest of my life,’” Jamie says. “Today I believe that some of the absolute tastiest, healthiest, more flavorful meat you can purchase can be grass-fed beef.”
That change of heart came after Jamie started researching what factors can cause beef to be tough or tender. He started learning about the role grazing practices, pasture quality and beef genetics can play – and he started to practice regenerative grazing on his land in earnest to help restore the health of his soil and pastures.
Jamie will host a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day devoted to these topics on Saturday, Sept. 16, from noon-4 p.m., near Bellevue(18113 362nd Ave., about 6 miles southwest of town). The event – “Regenerative Grazing to Produce Gourmet Grass-Fed Beef” – is free to attend, and will include a picnic lunch featuring grilled burgers from Rolling Meadows Farm grass-fed cattle. Please RSVP for the meal to Debra Boekholder, (515) 232-5661 or email@example.com, by Wednesday, Sept.13. The field day is sponsored by Iowa Farmers Union, Prairie Creek Seed and Welter Seed and Honey Co.
Guests will learn from Jamie about regenerative grazing practices, high-density rotational grazing and grazing of annual and perennials. During a hayride through his pastures, guests will get to see annuals interseeded in perennial pastures and a Plant-O-Vator minimum-till drill. Jamie’s Red Devon cattle are rotated every 12 hours and he will demonstrate a “five-minute move” into a fresh paddock.
Guests will see Jamie’s finishing herd, and he will point out what grass-finished beef animals look like when ready for market. He will also discuss body style and structure of animals; how genetics relate to grass efficiency and meat volume; and seed stock selection. In addition, Doug Peterson, a soil health specialist with Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), will conduct an in-field rainfall simulator demonstration.
“Regenerative agriculture is being able to leave this land in better shape than when we found it,” Jamie says. “It’s what wakes me up in morning, and has for a long time been at the heart of what I enjoy, of what really makes me tick when it comes to the soil aspect of what we do.”
Directions from Springbrook: Travel 2 miles north of Springbrook on County Road Z15 / 362nd Avenue. The road curves to the east, and the farm is located on the right (south) side of the road. The farm is at the top of a hill; look for the Rolling Meadows Farm sign.
Practical Farmers’ 2017 field days are supported by several sustaining and major sponsors, including: Ag Ventures Alliance; Albert Lea Seed; Center for Rural Affairs; Fertrell; Gandy Cover Crop Seeders; Grain Millers, Inc.; Iowa Beef Center; Iowa Environmental Council; Iowa State University Department of Agronomy; Iowa Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE); ISU Extension and Outreach; La Crosse Forage and Turf Seed; Lemken; Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture; MOSA Organic Certification; Natural Resources Defense Council; Organic Valley / Organic Prairie; Riverside Feeds, LLC; The Scoular Company; Trees Forever; Unilever; University of Iowa College of Public Health (I-CASH); Upper Iowa Audubon Society; USDA: Natural Resources Conservation Service; Wallace Chair for Sustainable Agriculture; and Welter Seed & Honey Co.
— Practical Farmers of Iowa
For more news from Iowa, click here.