The lives of Talbott Ranch cattle are a veritable moveable feast featuring lush green grass. The cattle summer in Eastern Oregon, then move to the foothills of Northern California during the winter months. This system ensures Talbott Ranch cattle a steady diet of native forage that produces tender, flavorful and healthy organic beef.
By virtue of Talbott Ranch’s association with Panorama Meats, its beef ends up in the meat cases of retail stores in Oregon, Washington and Northern California as Panorama Organic Grass-Fed Beef.
Pete and Pam Talbott live the ranching life at high elevation in Lakeview, Oregon, at the foot of the Warner Mountains bordering the Southeastern Oregon high desert. Since the Talbotts decided to go organic in 2008, they have been adding organic calves to the herd every year. They currently produce about 250 organic cattle yearly.
“We were so close to being an organic operation that we decided it made sense to go ahead and get certified,” says Pete. “We’ve always raised our cattle on grass, because cattle are ruminants—grass is what they’re meant to eat.” Ruminants are animals such as cattle, bison and deer, whose systems make it easy for them to digest grass and other plant-based food, but not corn or other grains.
Required vaccinations are used, but antibiotics and hormones are never administered and no grain or animal byproducts are ever fed to Talbott organic cattle.
Most of the work on the Talbott Ranch is done by Pete and Pam, with occasional marketing help from their daughters. Pete is also a partner in Land & Livestock Advisory Service, which consults with ranchers on business planning, economic analysis and production strategies.
As an experienced land manager, Pete uses different strategies to protect the land depending on the quality and quantity of the forage in each grazing location. His primary objective is to prevent stressing of the cattle or the land. In some areas, cattle are moved daily. In other locations, they’re left to graze for up to 10 days. As they graze, the cattle are helping to spread grass seed, while still preserving a permanent layer of high-quality topsoil.
Raising cattle on grass, rather than on corn in feedlots, makes sense to the Talbotts. Because cattle are eating their intended food, the resulting beef is tasty, healthy and in demand.
“There’s an awful lot of grass out there that can be put to good use. Add clean water and fresh air, and you end up with a great-tasting beef that is one of the healthiest foods you can eat,” says Pete.