Frequently asked questions.
Wickens Ranch is a fourth-generation working ranch. We raise predominantly Black Angus cattle on pasture using Allan Savory's grazing methods. Known as “regenerative agriculture,” this high- intensity, low-duration grazing approach allows us to return organic matter back to the soil faster, which makes the water, mineral, and nutrient cycles much more effective — naturally.
By purchasing from us, you support an agricultural model that is becoming more and more unusual in the US: a non-corporate, single-family-owned farm or ranch. You also support our vision of stewardship and sustainability, and the big-picture concept that we should honor these animals, the plants they eat, and the land that supports us all.
60 million bison used to roam North America. Large herds would graze the lands we now call Wickens Ranch — staying together for safety from wolves and grizzlies, foraging one area with high intensity and then moving on.
Their collective mass trampled the grasses and earth, breaking up the soil cap. Their manure and urine fertilized the soil, as they stomped plant material and their natural refuse back down to feed the soil's healthy microbes. Their hoofprints would create aeration, natural pockets for water to collect and water the roots of plants. The herds of bison would move on and not return for months or longer, giving the perennial plant roots time to regrow.
Bison no longer roam these landscapes, but with strategic, holistic range management, our cattle herds provide the same nutrient-cycling benefits of their wild cousins.Using movable electric fences, we emulate the movements of wild bison herds — our cows stay together just as bison would for protection from predators, foraging one area with high intensity and then moving on.
Because the pasturelands are given time to regenerate, our cows enjoy long seasons of hardy, healthy, nutrient-dense grasses. And because the grasses can regrow and deepen their roots, soil health increases, and erosion decreases. Everything needs a breath, a chance to recover — even grass and soil.
Since Wickens Ranch implemented practices to increase the health of our lands and our animals, we have watched the landscape flourish in ways we haven't seen in decades. Areas that were once just "wet bottoms" are now flowing spring creeks, thanks to better protection from erosion. With a fresh abundance of native plants, we are also witness to wild animals not seen for many years, their native home restored. Ancient dung beetles, nature's nutrient recyclers, have returned. Ever seen year-old cow pies, scattered across a field, drying out instead of breaking down? Now that our cattle's dung is free from pour-on insecticides, it is an attractive home for these ecological marvels, part of a thriving microcosm.
There’s no pointless biowaste in a truly healthy ecosystem — everything is connected, and everything has a purpose.
Our cattle are pea/barley-finished. The field peas come from nearby farms in northern central Montana. When farmers bring their peas in from the fields, they are sized and sorted for human consumption, and anything too small or cracked is sold to us. The barley and straw comes from neighboring farms. The hay comes from our own fields.
During months when snow covers our grass pastures, Wickens Ranch cattle are fed a 50% roughage (hay and straw) 50% pea/barley diet. This is vastly healthier compared to typical American feedlots, which feed 90% corn-based products and 10% roughage.
Peas are used for a couple of reasons:
Availability - There is a large supply close to us which lowers footprint and provides more revenue for local farmers.
Quality - Pea finished beef is a fantastic eating experience. Also Montana is the nation's No. 1 producer of field peas.
This is important to us. We are ethically bound to treat the animals in our care with the highest standards of stewardship and care. We husband these animals throughout their life, and are adamant that the harvest of our beef be done with no stress and no pain. The animals are handled quietly and dispatched instantly.
In late fall, our calves are weaned using a peaceful, low-stress method called "fenceline" weaning. Calves and mothers can see, hear, and smell one another, but cannot nurse. This eliminates nearly all the stress involved with the transition, creating an environment that supports both baby and mother until the calves are ready to move on.
Once the calves are weaned, they receive a mix of hay, straw, green and yellow field peas, barley, and a mineral supplement to support their nutrient needs.
Our beef is vacuum packaged individually and flash-frozen. The packaging is transparent for easy identification in your freezer. Meat packed in vacuum packs will never freezer burn, unless the vacuum pack is punctured or compromised. We caution our buyers to handle their vacuum pack meat carefully to avoid putting holes in the packaging..
We are proud to have Montana plants partner with us to process our beef safely, humanely, and with the highest quality standards.
Our Montana processor, is a USDA-inspected facility, with an inspector examining every animal individually.
As they say, “frozen is fresher!” Freezing beef is actually the best way to ensure its taste, tenderness, safety, and overall high quality is preserved — so it's in perfect condition when it arrives at your door.