On a beautiful farm along the Buck Run in East Fallowfield, Pennsylvania, there is one very content herd of cattle. Dr. Bill Elkins and his wife Helen have been raising Angus beef on their 200 acre farm for over thirty years. Dr. Elkins explains a bit of his history, “I grew up on a farm in Pocopson, had a career in medical research, and after that I wanted to get back into farming.”
The cattle at Buck Run Farm are raised within a holistic grazing system. There is one large herd moved to fresh grass daily. This practice mimics nature before there were fences, when wolves were the primary predator. The size of the herd is always changing, and the calves get to stay with their mothers, nursing as long as they need, to ensure their health.
Dr. Elkins notes that his cattle “live outdoors year round, so they hardly ever get sick… Angus cattle are an English breed, first imported in the late 1930′s. Before WWII, most beef in this country was grass-fed. After the war, agriculture was developed for grain production. Grain then became over-produced and low priced. The theory was if farmers fed it to cattle, they could get money out of their grain crop,” Dr. Elkins explains.
Due to increasing summer heat in recent years, Dr. Elkins has started cross-breeding his cows with the more heat-tolerant breed of South Poll cattle from Alabama. This is one more example of local farmers adapting to our changing climate.
Pastured beef has returned to the American table, and most people agree that it simply tastes better. Dr. Elkins samples the meat from each animal for quality. Careful records are kept regarding the lineage of every cow, so that the herd is given the opportunity to improve its genetics.
Right now on the farm there are bulls running with the herd, as the first of two breeding seasons is well under way. There are two calf crops per year, which helps spread out the age of the herd. Twice a month, one to three stockers (cattle which are at the size and age of being ready for market) are sent out to Smucker’s in Mt. Joy, Pennsylvania. This particular slaughterhouse caters to farms that maintain smaller herds. With smaller numbers to process, higher standards of workmanship and quality can be maintained.
At Harvest Market, we are proud to offer our customers this high quality ground meat in one pound packages in our freezer and as meat sticks. We are also quite privileged to feature Buck Run beef in our Harvest Market Kitchen’s Real Food To Go. Now you’ll know why our meatloaf tastes so good!