Kootenay Natural Meats
Dale and Wendy raise Kootenay Natural Meats. They are truly passionate about the health and wellbeing of their animals and offering a quality product to consumers.
Kootenay Co-op Butcher Shop manager, Tyler and I (Alyssa, True Local Coordinator) were lucky enough to visit the Kootenay Natural Meats ranch this summer, along with our resident Co-op photographer, Sam. We were greeted by a giant herding dog, and then another dog, and then another, and then another. By the time we met Dale and Wendy, we’d already met 4 of 5 faithful farm dogs! These ranchers don’t just show their love of animals by being dog-owners, though. Oh, no, no. That just wouldn’t suffice. Their love of animals and working with their animals spills out onto the grassy Creston acres. They have chickens and turkeys and rabbits and lamb and pigs and cows and even honeybees! They know that treating the animals well is the best possible way to get quality product.
First of all, what do you raise?
We raise 100% grass-fed & -finished angus beef, 100% grass-fed & -finished lamb, heritage pork, chickens, turkeys, rabbit and honey.
What are your goals?
To produce a quality product:
- Naturally raised on the farm
- Born and raised in open pastures, not confined to small spaces
- knowing our animals from day one
- no shots whatsoever with herd health management
- No added stress
- Growing the majority of our own feed to ensure:
- no GMO
- no sprays used on the crops
- With no antibiotics or hormones used
Really, we just want to provide a healthier choice in meat.
How long have you been in farming/in business?
We have been hobby farming for 20 years, but in the farming business for 12 years.
So what started as a hobby grew into a lifelong career! What motivated you to make the leap by starting Kootenay Natural Meats?
Farming is not for the faint of heart, but we both love working with animals, watching them born and raised in our backyard. Dale has been hobby farming since he could walk; I don’t think he could not have animals — it’s a lifestyle. We haven’t so much “started” as we’ve “grown”.
Fair enough! What are some of your greatest joys?
Seeing every animal born and raised on our farm (exception chicks come day old). And accomplishing goals such as growing 99% of our own feed on farm and expanding our selection of animals. We are really proud of being able to provide products from start to finish with all of our own feed grown on the farm.
We have been able to evolve over the years by listening to what customers and market-goers are asking for, and that’s no corn or GMOs, obviously no growth hormones or regular use of antibiotics, and no sprays used on feed crops.
Sounds like you’re feed farmers as much as you’re ranchers! What are some of your greatest challenges?
Keeping true to the way we want to grow and finish our animals. It is challenging to go the unconventional way and source out supplies that we want to use on our farm. “We have been able to evolve over the years by listening to what customers and market-goers are asking for”
I can only imagine! But we here at the Kootenay Co-op are glad you keep at it. Why is local food important to you?
Because our money stays in our area and makes farming more viable, more attainable. We don’t have to rely on global markets and auction marts to dictate what we will be paid for our animals and therefore what our profits might be from year to year. By buying local, we can create a steady and reliable local market for ourselves, which is key to long-term sustainable farming. We can get to know our customers on a one-on-one basis and create a trusting, long-lasting relationship that we can build on and rely upon.
It has taken a real dedication to farming to keep going year after year in doing what we do. But hearing such positive feedback from our customers and being able to supply people with a quality product that we are so very proud to be able to produce and share with those who appreciate it… that’s what makes us keep going and keep wanting to expand where possible.