Farmers raise heritage breeds on 320 acres while working off-farm jobs
INDIAN HEAD, Sask. — Ranching is in Jeff Bovee’s blood.
His great-grandfather was large-scale rancher John Minor from the Abbey, Sask., area. Bovee is following in his footsteps but doing it in a different fashion.
Jeff and his wife, Sabrina, a registered dietitian, are raising livestock on a smaller scale with close attention paid to what they eat.
“Whether it’s our beef, pigs, chickens, turkeys, ducks or geese, we’re raising each animal on pasture, so everything is grass fed and grass finished,” said Jeff.
The Bovees are not interested in large-scale farming to make a living, but rather on establishing an operation that produces nutritionally superior meat. They chose the name Primal Pastures for their farm to reflect their philosophy of raising food in as natural a setting as possible
“Our number one goal in raising our livestock is to match each species of animal with a pasture environment, which best fits their physical and mental attributes, rather than fitting them into a more controlled farm plan,” said Jeff.
“Right now, we’re just getting our feet wet and seeing if it might be feasible for us to live out this dream and raise animals closer to the way they would live in the wild,” said Jeff.
Jeff, a geologist, and Sabrina both hold off-farm jobs to support their farm goals of producing animals without using antibiotics or added hormones while also residing in free-range settings.
The focus is on producing more nutritional cuts of meat that are high in omega 3 fatty acids and low in less healthy omega 6 and 9 fatty acids.
“Our cattle are strictly grass fed, which gives them a nutritional profile that is superior to grain-fed cattle,” said Sabrina, a full-time nutritionist with the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region.
“Our goal is simply to raise the kind of meat that we would want to eat ourselves,” she said.
Jeff said his goal is to produce meat with health benefits so he raises ducks on a creek, pigs in the forest and cattle on the grass.
The Bovees found the ideal setting for their dream farm in 2010 when they bought 320 acres of land in the Red Fox Valley near Indian Head, Sask.
The former cattle operation consisted of pastureland, wooded areas, a creek and numerous large corrals overgrown with grass.
This setting has provided the perfect home for their heritage breeds of pigs, geese, ducks, chickens and cattle, which forage on the rich nutrients left from the feedlot setting.
“We plan to plant a number of apple trees in the wooded area reserved for the pigs so they can eat apples in August and September and small groups of ducks and geese will be on the creek this summer where they can take advantage of the marshland buffet,” said Jeff.
“I’ve always wanted to do this since I was little and now that we have a farm, we want to live that beautiful way of life where a farmer can supply their local people with the food they’ve raised,” he said.
The Bovees currently sell meat from their farmgate with the largest segment of their clientele coming from within a 100-kilometre radius.
The Bovees charge a premium price for their naturally raised meat at $4, $5 and $6 per pound.
They depend on word of mouth to market their products, which has resulted in more demand than supply.