BY JUDY SHERIDAN
Aledo veterinarian Dr. Glenn Rogers doesn’t have a beef with the traditional way cattle are raised and brought to market.
“U.S. agriculture and the U.S. beef industry furnish the safest, most wholesome food supply in the world,” he said. “It’s not a concern. It’s more of an effort to enter a niche market that’s growing.”
A sixth generation Texas rancher with acreage dating back to the 1890s, Rogers is adapting to a national natural foods trend by starting a new business,
He raises about 500 breeding heifers annually through his cow/calf operation on Holt River Ranch in Graford, but he began branching out in April, marketing beef directly to the consumer through a company he named Grassy Ridge Natural Beef.
“Natural is a non-definition as far as the USDA goes,” he said. “It means minimally processed at slaughter. It’s vague.”
For Rogers, however, natural is defined as meat from animals raised without growth hormones, antibiotics or animal by-products, cattle that ate mostly grass and never saw the inside of a feedlot — where additives are routinely used to improve feed efficiency.
“We try to be very transparent,” he said. “If we use antibiotics when an animal is sick — and I believe it would be inhumane not to — it’s noted, and that animal doesn’t go into the natural program.”
Varying from the norm is more costly, Rogers admitted, resulting in a higher-priced product.
“One $1 implant given to a calf can result in 20 pounds of extra weight at weaning,” he said. “That’s $40.”
Removing antibiotics from feed products can usher in more illness, another expense.
“Natural beef products are a luxury item,” he said. “Technology has allowed us to feed the world, but we want to use it as little as possible to achieve our goals.”
Rogers is passionate about stewarding his grassland, working to improve soil health through a rotational cell grazing system that lets the pastures rest and incorporating no-till techniques to limit the soil’s exposure to sunlight and minimize fertilizer use.
“Animals don’t perform if they’re not on good feed,” he said.
Cattle fed grass exclusively develop a yellow fat from the carotene, Rogers said, but the taste of the meat improves.
“I will say the flavor of animals raised on pasture tastes better,” he said, conceding that the meat from cattle finished in a feedlot gets higher marks for tenderness due to the higher level of intramuscular fat.
“You just don’t overcook it,” he advised. “Our personal favorite — with cuts that aren’t tenderloin or ribeye — is to apply sea salt for 30 minutes; it helps to tenderize it.”
The dry aging process Grassy Ridge uses, where the meat is hung for 14 days after processing — allowing the muscles to stretch — is another way to boost tenderness.
Rogers isn’t the only one who relishes the beef harvested from the first lot of commercial-bred Red Angus — two dozen animals — to come out of the natural program.
Aledo Agbackers, offering Grassy Ridge hamburgers during AHS football games, have been selling out in the third quarter, with Bearcat supporters putting away more than 500 patties per game.
Rogers reports repeat customers at Aledo’s Bulk and Bunches, and he is just beginning to explore consumer demand through the Weatherford Farmers’ Market.
People have become more interested in putting “a name and a face” on those who produce the food they eat, Rogers said.
To make that connection “more of an experience” he has built a large pavilion with a view of the Brazos River, complete with an outdoor kitchen, stone fireplace and other amenities.
Rogers has already staged his first Beef Fest there, a customer appreciation day offering wildlife tours, live fiddle music and beef prepared by a professional chef.
Marketing may be a new subject for Rogers, but he’s shown he can change hats with ease, having spent 11 years as a practicing veterinarian, nine in the academic arena and 12 in the animal health industry, where he is recognized for his contributions to herd health programs.
He is working with an economist friend to decide if he wants to push the program out or keep it small.
“At 57 I’m at the time of life where I don’t need to add stress,” he reflected. “The concept is good, and there is demand — a desire to connect with where food comes from.
“I’m excited to have customers come out and see the ranch.”
Steering a new course
BY JUDY SHERIDAN
- Aledo ExtrA
SPRINGTOWN – After finding that a breaker manufactured by a company with a history of issues contributed to a house fire Friday, Parker County Fire Marshal Shawn Scott is urging Parker County residents with Federal Pacific Electric Stab-Lok circuit breakers to call an electrician and get them checked for safety.
Candidates have filed for city, school board elections
Filings for May 10 city and school board elections are now complete. A summary follows:
On the Aledo ISD school board incumbents David Davis, in Place 6, and Hoyt Harris, in Place 7, have both filed for re-election, each drawing one or more opponents. Farida Goderya has filed for Place 6, opposite Davis, and Riley Morrison and Debra Rogers have filed for Place 7, opposite Harris.
East Parker County Calendar of Events
The East Parker County Chamber of Commerce will welcome retired USAF SMSGT Vernon M. Anderson, Jr., senior technical instructor, Bell Helicopter, Integrated Operations Engineering Support Technical Training Department, as the key note speaker for the March 12 luncheon.
The Sunny Side
WILLOW PARK – Peppered with anecdotes from his stellar baseball career, former Texas Rangers catcher Jim Sundberg gave witness to his Christian faith and told how it changed his life before a crowd of about 200 at the recent annual Trinity Christian Academy dinner and fundraiser.
Aledo ISD approves suicide prevention program
The Aledo School Board approved the LifeLines Suicide Prevention Program in February, lining up with a recommendation from the Student Health Advisory Council, which has spent a year reviewing choices.
Aledo ISD could save up to $2 million
Expecting to save close to $2 million, Aledo ISD trustees recently voted to let district staff pull the trigger on a bank-qualified refunding of some of the district’s outstanding bonds once market conditions are optimum.
Don't feed the deer!
HUDSON OAKS — The city council recently passed an ordinance banning the feeding of deer.
Parker County Sheriff's Report Feb. 27-March 2
Burglary of a vehicle
Deputies were dispatched to the 300 block of James Street in Aledo shortly after 6 p.m. regarding the burglary of a vehicle.
ASK A MASTER GARDENER: Is it too early to start a vegetable garden?
Considering our winter temperatures this year, that’s a good question. When it comes to a successful vegetable garden, timing is everything. The goal in Texas is to have most of your vegetable crops mature before the temperatures soar in mid-summer.
EXTENSION NEWS: Getting more zzzs could help you lose some lbs.
We spend about one-third of our lifetime sleeping. Sleep is important for learning and memory. Sleep also helps our immune system to resist illness and disease, increases response times in emergencies, improves our mood and feelings of wellness and gives us the energy we need to be more active and alert.
- More Aledo ExtrA Headlines
- Breaker, breaker!