We spent a beautiful spring day visiting some of the ranches that make up the cooperative of Desert Mountain Grassfed Beef. We spent our time near Hammett, ID in the Bruneau Valley where Bob & Pam Howard graze their cattle in the winter and spring. The Howards move their herd further north toward McCall once the weather heats up. The calving happens in March and April, so we were lucky enough to encounter a day old baby calf on our visit, pictured above.
This year, Desert Mountain includes 22 ranching families. Most of the ranches are located in southwestern Idaho, with one in Vale and one in Lakeview Oregon (though these are not supplying beef until 2020).
The land they use for grazing is both public and private, depending on the season and the location. Desert Mountain ranchers utilize state land, BLM land, and private leasing agreements with farmers, both conventional and organic. Bob likes working with conventional farmers, because Desert Mountain’s methods can seem a bit unusual at first, but over time the farmers see positive results on their land. The Desert Mountain ranchers are constantly keeping an eye on the cattle, and they move them to new land if either the cattle or the land seem unhappy.
Because they graze their cattle at a higher elevation during the summer, it drastically reduces their water consumption. Howard is confident that for every degree above 80F, the water consumption of the cattle increases dramatically. Hence the migration up to McCall, where the higher elevation makes for a much cooler climate. Happier, cooler cattle drink less water. Not only that, but we think the Akaushi definitely taste better than Angus. The flavor is often compared to that of Kobe beef. Once you go grassfed, you'll never go back!