It’s time to take a trip with me out to the ranch!

That’s right, you will be hearing from a real-life rancher today—Tyler Dawley of the Big Bluff Ranch in Red Bluff, California. Red Bluff is a couple of hours north of Sacramento, so if you’re ever driving by it on a road trip, you’ve got to check it out—I have tried his incredible quality chicken myself and you can truly taste the difference. 

In this episode, you will receive a fast-moving, basic education on numerous aspects of regenerative farming—an area that a lot of us are minimally aware of in terms of what goes on behind the scenes to create the food we get at the grocery store. We talk about green-washing and why that is such a problem, the industrial farming complex and feedlot animals, comparing and contrasting it with operations that farm “Mother Nature-style” as Tyler calls it, which actually have a positive effect on the environment by sequestering carbon. Tyler also gives some practical tips for how we can all commit to doing better in terms of our shopping habits, such as going to your local farmer’s market and forming relationships with local farmers and the food they grow.

Learn more about Tyler and the Big Bluff Ranch by visiting their website here.


We are learning about numerous aspects of regenerative farming. [00:45]

The history of Big Bluff Ranch goes back to the 1950s. [04:28]

Knowing the way cows digest their food, helps the farmer understand the care of his land.  [14:11]

Tyler explains how the feedlot’s misuse of the land compares with the farms that understand the sustainable management of their acreage. [19:35]

The methane emission that we hear so much about is the result of the cow’s processed food diet as opposed to the natural diet they get on the range. [21:28]

When the consumer votes with their dollar by buying grass-fed meat and organically-raised chickens, the big companies will begin to take notice and quit supplementing with the wrong food.  Your vote counts! [24:35]

Mother Nature didn’t need chemicals to grow grass. [27:34]

Are we on a time clock now because of the abuse of our land? [33:39]

A farmer can learn to keep water in a creek flowing year-round even if it appears to run dry. [39:31]

How can we, the consumer, navigate some of the terminology we encounter in the supermarket or Farmer’s Market? “Greenwashing” is a term that means not changing what you are doing but putting a new “green” label on an item. [42:41]

Grass-fed, grass-finished is the gold standard.  Be careful of the grain-finished label. [44:25]

Free range is not what you think it is. Chickens are not supposed to eat a vegetarian diet. [46:51]

What exactly does pasture-raised chicken mean? [51:49]

What should the animals eat compared to what many of them are getting fed? What should California be producing?  [01:01:44]



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B.Rad Podcast:

Tyler (00:00:00):
Once you have a third party certification, that almost instantly means that there’s loopholes.

Brad (00:00:06):
Welcome to the B.rad podcast, where we explore ways to pursue peak performance with passion throughout life without taking ourselves too seriously. I’m Brad Kearns, New York Times bestselling author, former number three world-ranked professional triathlete and Guinness World Record Masters athlete. I connect with experts in diet, fitness, and personal growth, and deliver short breather shows where you get simple, actionable tips to improve your life right away. Let’s explore beyond the hype, hacks, shortcuts, and sciencey talk to laugh, have fun and appreciate the journey. It’s time to B.rad.

Brad (00:00:45):
Hello, listeners. It’s time to take a trip with me out to the ranch. That’s right. We are going to talk to a real live rancher named Tyler Dawley at Big Bluff Ranch in the area of Red Bluff, California. It’s a couple hours north of Sacramento on Interstate five. So if you’re driving on a road trip, you can stop in and check out this amazing place where they are raising truly organic free range chickens that taste delicious. I tried some myself. He shipped me some, and the first bite, you can tell right away that you are enjoying a superior animal, much better nutritional value, as well as humanitarian and environmental concern. So Tyler’s gonna give us a fast moving basic education on numerous aspects of regenerative farming. And I think it’s an area that a lot of us are kind of, uh, minimally aware of what goes on behind the scenes when we go to the store.

Brad (00:01:49):
And if you’re a health conscious consumer, you’re looking for the best meat, you’re looking at different labels, potentially confusing. He describes this term called greenwashing, which is when you change your label or make some claims without changing your farming practices. So we’re gonna touch on the industrial farming complex and the feedlot animals, the compare and contrast with a operation that does the Mother Nature style as he calls it, and actually has the effect of sequestering carbon. So having a net positive for the environment because we hear so much about how factory farming and the feedlot cattle are emitting a lot of methane into the environment and causing the greenhouse gas emissions. So, boy, he has such a positive and hopeful, uh, vision for the future. And it starts with, uh, the consumer just changing, spending patterns to demand and scrutinize and go and find the best sources of meat.

Brad (00:02:52):
And Big Bluff Ranch is gonna be a fun place to stop over on and order up some chicken. They’ll ship it to you right to your door. It’s great. You know, I talk about ButcherBox so much, which has that tremendous commitment to, grass fed beef free range chicken and poultry, and turkey and everything of the highest standard wild caught fish. So we have to do a great job, uh, you know, changing the world, one purchasing decision at a time. And I like how Tyler says, Hey, you don’t have to be perfect here or feel overwhelmed, but just try to do better and try to get over to the Farmer’s Market and form relationships with locally grown food. It starts there. And get ready people. We’re going on a farm education tour with Tyler at Big Bluff Ranch. Tyler Dawley, I got you on a spare moment at the busy Big Bluff Ranch at Red Bluff, California.

Brad (00:03:47):
And you’re going to talk to us about all kinds of organic regenerative farming. You sent me some wonderful chicken. It was distinctly superior to any chicken that you’re gonna find through mainstream channels. And, uh, boy, you could tell on the first bite. So I’m excited to learn more about all the great things you’re doing at Big Bluff Ranch and your history in the scene, and particularly with the consumer. Um, a lot of the misinformation and the marketing hype that we’re subjected to. So I look forward to sorting some of that stuff out too.

Tyler (00:04:21):
Yeah, I’m, I’m excited to be on here. I appreciate it very much. Yeah,

Brad (00:04:25):
Tell me about Big Bluff Ranch.

Tyler (00:04:28):
So, the short story, and I’ll try and keep it short, but it, it does tend to run a little long because we’ve been around here for a while. My, uh, my mom’s dad, grandpa bought the, uh, bought the ranch in 1960 and it, for him, it was at the time, kind of a weekend toy. He was doing pretty well after the end of World War ii. And this was just the reason we’re called Big Bluff Ranch is he bought the ranch. Told Grams, Grams is like, no, you didn’t. It’s a big bluff. No, you didn’t buy a ranch, Nutso. They brought it up here and he is like, here, here you go. It’s a big bluff. So that’s why, that’s why we’re a Big Bluff ranch. It’s not the mountain side that we have back here. We do have bluffs, but it’s because Graham said, no way you, you didn’t buy a ranch.

Tyler (00:05:16):
So grandpa did pretty well for a while, but then, you know, as, as things go, the money went away, but the ranch stayed. So, starting in the eighties, ment where it’s not just a slam dunk situation. If we were 20 miles closer to the Sacramento River, we’d be growing walnuts. And I would be in the French Riviera having fun. If we were, you know, farther down, closer to the delta, you know, we’d be growing other stuff. But where we’re at is a relatively, um, or soil type. So we’re really only good for rangeland. We’re only good for growing, you know, animals. And my dad needed to figure out how to do that. And so there’s a guy named Allan Savory, who at the time, back in the early eighties was promulgating something called the Holistic Resource Management.

Tyler (00:06:18):
And, nowadays he’s semi-famous and he’s got a, one of the most viewed Ted Talks, um, in Ted Talk, TEDx History. And it’s called Holistic Management Now. But back in the day when my dad first met him, he wasn’t world famous. He was like trying to get 10 people to come to a seminar in Willows, which is the town even smaller than Red Bluff. So we got into that, but he convinced my dad. So we started raising our cows in a very simplistic explanation, mimicking how you would raise animals or mother nature raises animals on the Serengeti, big clumps of grazing animals that are here for a day and then gone, because the lions are after ’em. So what we do, we don’t have lions out here, we have electric fences. So we built a lot of electric fences. We would manage our cows to be in one spot, and then we’d move them on to the next spot.

Tyler (00:07:11):
And so each spot had a lot of time to recover. There’s way more cool stuff there. But that’s simplistically what we, we started doing. And then as you start logically following this process through, you’re like, okay, we’re taking care of our cows here. We’re taking care of the ground. But we want to kind of keep going with this, that our cows are still requiring some inputs. We’re still having to get some hay in the winter. We’re still having to get some, you know, protein supplements. And that, you know, back before we moved, you know, white guys moved into this valley. Like the ridge behind me is called Elkhorn Ridge. We have Antelope Boulevard down in Red Bluff that there was a ton of animals that lived here and didn’t need outside supplementation. So they’re like, well, cows should be able to do this.

Tyler (00:08:01):
Right? So I I the, we started changing our cattle genetics to short wide cows for instead of tall, skinny cows. Tall skinny cows are good for feedlots, but they’re not really good for ranchers ’cause you have to feed tall, skinny cows. And we’re not feedlots. So we went to short wide cows, short wide cows, actually turned out to be really good for grass fed beef. That’s when I graduated college. So, graduated on a Friday, was at a Farmer’s Market on a Sunday, maybe it was two Sundays later, but we’ll call it the next Sunday. It’s a better story. And um, so that was the early two thousands that led us to Farmer’s Markets that led us to trying out, uh, grass fed lamb, browse, finished goat. And we tried a little bit of chicken and we’re like, nah, that was a miserable experience. <laugh> the new rule, four legs only.

Tyler (00:08:50):
So we’re like, oh, well the only four-legged animal left is pigs. Let’s try pasture pork. And well, we found out that there are things worse than chickens for us. And, uh, we did, did not enjoy the pork experience. And, uh, that led us back into chickens and chickens. That was kind of it. We, we hit our little lane there when we got back into chickens. We got, you know, pretty good at it. We were doing direct sales through Farmer’s Markets. I ran into a guy who could sell more chicken than he could raise, and I could raise more chicken than I could sell. And that was, that was 2009. And we’ve been contract growing chickens for the last 10, 12 years. And, uh, we’re, we’re trying to branch back out into direct marketing and telling people about the fun stuff we do. And that is my long-winded but short answer to who we are at the ranch. So there’s just a lot to cover. I try and keep it short, but I gotta go. Yeah.

Brad (00:09:48):
Lots of questions come up. So, uh, over a decade ago, this stuff wasn’t as popular as it is now where people are scrutinizing labels and asking for pasture raised chicken and so forth. So when you’re at these Farmer’s Markets and I suppose charging a higher price than the crap you find in the grocery store and what we’re accustomed to paying for chicken, um, how did that, uh, how did that go where you were building momentum with a discriminating consumer even back then?

Tyler (00:10:18):
Yep. Yeah, so, I mean, well, you experienced it that when you, when you raise chickens, the way we do chickens, it just taste better. You know, if you try it once, you’re pretty much convinced I don’t really need to do much more explanation. So that, that was it. So when we’re at the Farmer’s Markets, we could show people, you know, pictures of what we’re doing. They were talking to me directly and they’d take the chicken home and I’d tell ’em how to cook it, what was the best way. And then they’d come back the next week and we’re like, well, that was the most amazing chicken I need. I need this week’s chicken. And that’s just kind of how we kept growing, is just by delivering really awesome, delicious chicken one at a time.

Brad (00:10:58):
And you talked about running the cattle through different sections of the farm with the electric fence, and then allowing the land to, uh, what you said recover. It sounds maybe more tedious and more expensive than the typical feedlot operation. So maybe you could compare and contrast what most ranches are doing, and how that might negatively impact the land versus the it sounds like you guys were pretty, pretty early adopters of this cutting edge strategy to try to regenerate the land.

Tyler (00:11:33):
Yeah, I mean, it, we were, we were generative before people knew what that meant. I mean, we were organic before people knew what that meant. I mean, we were just trying to take care of our land the best way possible. So what typically happens is a rancher will be called a cow calf producer. So that’s a, that’s a, that’s a cowboy who raises mama cows. He’ll have calves and they’ll wean those calves at 3, 4, 5 months, you know, off of their weaned. So they’re not nursing on mom anymore, but they’re not big. And so in a typical situation that goes off to that weaned calf goes off to a, a stocker operation, which would be a guy who raises cows from like four or 500 pounds up to like maybe 900 pounds. And then it goes to a feedlot, or that weaned calf just goes straight to a feedlot.

Tyler (00:12:24):
And a feedlot is where 90, 98, 95, some really high percentage of all beef in the US comes from. And in a seed lot, they’re gonna be in an enclosure, a corral, and they’ll be fed an appropriate feed. Um, you know, oftentimes there’s a lot of corn in that. And, corn grows cows pretty darn quick. They get up to harvest weight. It really efficiently, if you’re looking at it from that, um, perspective, they, they put on weight really quick and they grow and they do a, a, a, a good job at that, at growing. And then they go to the harvest, and then, then they get processed, and then they show up in your grocery store. And that’s how beef can be relatively cheap at your grocery stores because you’re, they’re eating mostly corn. And our current farm bill subsidizes corn production <laugh>. So that corn that they’re eating is artificially cheap. And it’s been that way since the end of World War ii. So that’s part of the reason why grocery store beef is so cheap, is because you and me and our tax dollars have, uh, paid the farmer to grow corn below the cost of production. So

Brad (00:13:40):
Remember some of that from economics class in college where you’re drawing the grass and then below the cost of production, but they’re still getting paid. It was pretty, pretty trippy to, to realize what’s going on behind the scenes. But the cattle, uh, every cow is out there on the open range for a percentage of their life, and then they go into the feedlot. That’s what you’re describing. And then, uh, they, they put on, uh, a large amount of weight in a short time from, from sitting around and and chowing on corn all day?

Tyler (00:14:11):
Yep, yep. I mean, that’s in round numbers. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, there, there’s more nuance to it. And, and I don’t wanna be poking at any of the people in that situation ’cause they’re all trying to take care of the animals that they best, they know how to be sustainable as best they know how. So, you know, I hear some people kind of tossing some mud at various producers, and I just, no producer out there is out there purposely maliciously not taking care of their animals. They’re just absolutely doing the best that they can, and there’s a better way, but they’re, they’re doing the best they can. So, um, yeah. And so, compared to a grass fed operation, you know, our cows, which would just stay on the grass forever, you know, cows are ruminants. They, they, you know, ruminants meaning that they eat grass, and then they actually will spit up their cud.

Tyler (00:15:06):
And if you ever, you see the pictures of the cows like going chomp, chomp, chomp, chomp, just laying down there, chewing their jaws. So what they actually do is they’ll eat grass goes down into their first stomach, they have four stomachs, goes into their first stomach, kinda like a holding cell holding pen holding tank. And they’re like, okay, I got this full enough. And then they’re like, I’m bored, I’m gonna go sit down. And they, they orf up some of the grass and they’re like, okay, now it’s time to work on this. And they chomp, chomp, chomp, chomp, chop it, and then they send it down to their, their next stomach. And that’s where they actually start getting nutrition out of it. So anyways, cows are designed to eat grass. They have these extra stomachs to handle all the roughage. And, um, so if you, you provide the cows, the, the feed that they’re used to, that’s, um, that just works out.

Tyler (00:15:53):
And that the, the cool thing about that is that cows are meant to eat grass. Grass is meant to be eaten by cows. And that if you kind of take some cues from how mother nature does things, where if you think about that, those plains of Africa, where those wildebeests or whatever are here for a day, and then they’re gone, you can kind of, in your mind’s eye, imagine that that area was just hammered to the ground. It’s, there’s no grass left. You know, there’s tons of dung, there’s ton of urine, and it’s all chump chewed up with the hooves plowed, and those animals are gone, and that that ground has time to recover because they don’t want to come back to that, you know, yuck. So, so if you take that idea and you try and apply it into a, into a domesticated livestock idea, you get the same thing.

Tyler (00:16:39):
You concentrate your animals, they’re gonna fertilize the ground, they’re gonna plant seeds with their hooves, and you keep those animals off. And this is where the eye of the farmer or the rancher comes in, that we can actively manage Mother Nature’s system rather than just letting her passively do it. So we can go out there and we can, we can eyeball how fast these plants are recovering. You know, a rule of thumb is that you don’t want to go back and eat that same piece of that same plant until it looks like it hasn’t been grazed. Yeah. So that, just that simple little bit of explanation means that you can go out there and if you’re in like the springtime, at least out here, like that grass is growing like crazy. You only need about 30, 30 days of recovery. And that plant looks like it was never touched.

Tyler (00:17:25):
And they’re like, okay, hey, it’s all recovered. Let’s put the cows back in here. This is great. Now you come back here, say like August, you know, in California we’re talking, it’s brown, it’s dry, we’re Mediterranean climate, nothing’s really growing. You’re gonna graze that down. You’re gonna watch that plant. Now you’re looking at like 180 day recovery, 210 days of recovery. You’re basically waiting until that plant recovers. Now that cues all sorts of amazing things that by letting these plants recover, they’re putting roots into the ground, they’re sequestering carbon, they’re opening up the pores of the soil. So when it does rain, the rain goes in, it doesn’t go out. Um, California’s had a lot of wild wildfires recently. So if you take, instead of we’re, instead of talking about cows, let’s talk about goats, let’s talk about sheep. These small ruminants like to browse same principles apply that they could be browsing down all this brush that’s been burning in California.

Tyler (00:18:21):
So you can change the landscape away from browse, which is an indication of over rest, and he can turn it back into a grassland. So just the really fun thing about managing landscapes like this is that you can <laugh>, you can fix everything. You can fix all the world’s problems. Like, Hey, we have flooding. Well, that kind of tells you that your, your rangelands aren’t infiltrating water fast enough. We, Hey, we have crazy wildfires in California. Well, that probably means there’s some management issues that you’re having too much, you’re allowing too much brush to grow. Just, you know, hey, my body’s not very healthy. Like, well, the how’s healthy is the food it is that you’re eating. Oh, maybe that’s not healthy. Well, maybe there’s an issue there. Well, how do I get healthy food? Well, let’s get it from healthy ground. Okay, well, how do we have healthy ground? Like, well, it should probably be taken care of, like Mother Nature would take care of it, right? So there’s these, you know, and broad parameters. There’s all these things that kind of link together that kind of give you a sense of what agriculture could and should look like. So I’ll, I’ll get off my stops. Yeah, I’ll get off my soapbox a little bit there.

Brad (00:19:35):
Well, I mean, the soapbox is important because this is so little known insights from the average consumer who’s going to the store and, and buying the meat or whatever food they choose, if they’re against animal products because they’re destroying the environment. And, um, all this carbon is going into the atmosphere from your typical feedlot. It’s like a big smoke stack in the coal factory. And so we have this important distinction between, I guess, uh, you could say misusing the land and describe what that is like over, you know, overgrazing in the same area or something to the extent that now the depletion is causing, you know, greenhouse emissions and so forth, versus if you simply allow the land to recover. Now we’re talking about and how the animals are actually sequestering carbon improving the condition of the planet because of how they treat the land. So maybe let’s hit that distinctive compare and contrast there a little more versus what’s happening in the feedlot where it’s you drive by on the highway and it’s dusty and there’s, you know, there’s no grass to speak of and so forth,

Tyler (00:20:50):
Right? Yeah. So, so the, our, I’ve heard the argument kind of floated out there that we have too many cows, that the cows are, you know, they’re farting and that they’re methane is putting a hole in the ozone or whatever the particular science is. And I don’t doubt that science particularly, but I don’t think it’s put in the context that those feedlot cows are fed a diet that they’re not used to. So to some degree, imagine eating a whole bunch of frijoles holidays for dinner, right? I mean, if you don’t eat frijoles , you don’t have gas. It’s kinda the same that cow

Brad (00:21:28):
That methane emission is a consequence of their processed food diet as opposed to their natural diet in a large part.

Tyler (00:21:39):
Yeah, I, wow. Yeah, exactly. And another way of kind of on a high level kind of trying to tell out, figure out the truth of that matter is that there used to be like three or four times more American bison in the Midwest now, or back in the day than there are cattle in the entire US now. So basically we have reduced the, the number of large ruminants, either buffalo or, or cattle, whatever it is, way lower than historically we’ve had out here. So if you think back to the past that there were way more bison than we have cattle now, and their ruminant their system is the exact same as a cow. And if there was way more of them back then, and we didn’t have methane issues, why are we having methane issues now with less cows around? So, um, you know, if just if we, if, if you readjust the farm bill to maybe not prop up the corn industry so much, and if all a lot of those corn farms back in the Midwest got converted back into perennial pastures, um, you could grow the same number of beef that we’re doing now and never have to put ’em into a feedlot.

Tyler (00:22:56):
And while you’re doing that, you’re going to be sequestering carbon, you’re gonna be increasing natural diversity, you’re gonna be on and on and on. All these amazing, um, knock on beneficial benefits, <laugh> beneficial benefits. Yeah. Excellent.

Brad (00:23:13):
Are there any other missing pieces to this puzzle? Is it that simple? And, and then why aren’t we doing it if it’s cost effective and environmentally effective? Is it because of the corn subsidies, or is it also maybe a little more expensive or something that’s,

Tyler (00:23:31):
It takes a little bit? Well, I’m not, not to say that raising a cow in a feedlot doesn’t take skill, but it definitely takes more skill to raise animals on range. Like you’re paying attention to,

Tyler (00:23:45):
There’s artistry involved. Like you really have to get a sense of your land and like, you know, you can see things directly, but then you have to have an association with that piece of land for a while to kind of feel what’s gonna happen. It’s a little mystical woo woo, but you really, eventually, you spend enough time in a place that you can just kind of sense where things are going with that. And so there’s a little bit of artistry involved in raising great grass fed beef, and that the, the, the current it to some degree, it’s like the military industrial complex that there is so much money tied up in the way beef is, and kind of all meat agriculture is being produced right now that it’s kind of tough to unwind it, right? You can’t really just wave a wand.

Tyler (00:24:35):
And so one of the things that I like to say is that, you know, we, we can’t see if every, we can’t change everything at once. Let’s just start by doing the simple thing and that we all eat, you know, once, twice, three, four times a day. So if we just start eating things differently, the industry is actually really sensitive to these things. Like they, they want your money, right? And if you’re signaling with your dollars that I believe in grass fed beef, or I believe in pasture-raised chicken, or I believe in organic pork, like the industry’s gonna be like, oh, we need to get ahead of this trend. We need to, we need to keep getting their money. And so, and, and we see it, you know, it’s, it would be tough to give examples that everyone would know, but these big companies are absolutely trying to get in front of these trends.

Tyler (00:25:25):
And to some degree they’ll be watered down and, you know, greenwashed, but I mean, even bad organic, whatever is better than not organic, right? We’ve made a step in the right direction. So let’s not worry about being perfect from the get-go. Let’s just be directionally correct, right? Let’s just get a little bit more better meat on my plate. Let’s have an organic hamburger every now and then. Let’s have a grass-fed beef hamburger every now and then. Let’s have a Sunday roast chicken that was organically raised on pasture. You know, let’s just, let’s vote with our dollars, indicate the change that we want. And just amazing things will happen. Farms like us will pop up all over the place and they just need a little bit of support to get there. Yeah,

Brad (00:26:15):
I love it. It does make a big difference. And then you can have that individual contribution. It’s kind of like casting your vote. We have an election coming up, and there’s people that have the mentality, well, my vote’s not gonna make a difference. This is a huge, you know, and then we see these examples in the elections where the Senate race in Georgia was, you know, down to 87 votes in the entire state, and crazy stats like that. But we, when we are voting with our pocketbook, we’ve seen how these branches of the economy have grown tremendously in a short time because people put out a good product there. And, you know, the consumers call for it. Now,, the grass fed beef, I suppose, is always gonna be higher price than the beef we’re used to buying these days because of that artificial savings of the cow consuming a lot of corn, which is cheap. The corn feeds cheaper than it should be even. Uh, but I guess if you’re arguing that we have the potential to do this at scale, we have a big enough continent, I guess, where there’s enough room for the, the cows to graze. Could that normalize, uh, when the efficiencies kick into gear and the cows are eating grass, which is possibly even cheaper than corn in the, in the bag?

Tyler (00:27:34):
Yeah, No, you’re right. I mean, they’re, yes, the answer is yes. I mean, people are all like, oh, organic can’t feed the world. Regenerative can’t feed the world. And it’s, it’s, it can, it can that there’s so many examples out there of regenerative farmers who are just crushing what conventional farmers can do. There’s a guy named Gabe Brown, so if any of you guys are listening and wanna really get pepped up and feel positive about the future, check out Gabe Brown. He’s out of South Dakota, I believe, and he is an amazing proponent spokesperson for the regenerative agricultural movement. And they are way more articulate than I could be about the numbers and, and the dollars and cents of how regenerative can feed the world and bring the price down. I mean, if you can produce more calories per acre, you know, that’s, that’s the whole deal.

Tyler (00:28:30):
It’s like, Hey, this, that’s cheaper for me, <laugh>, I need to farm less acres. And so, I mean, that’s one aspect that we haven’t talked about too much is that regenerative agriculture to some degree requires more labor. And you would think that that’s a problem. But the reality is, is that’s actually a, that’s a feature that’s a benefit because our rural communities are fading. You know, there’s, I don’t know if you see them, but you, you know, you see these sad stories of Midwest towns that are down to like 500 people and that, you know, the school had to close down, the post office had to close down that, you know, they just don’t need the number of people to farm anymore. And that there is a whole very important culture that is kind of stating away right now that the average age of the farmer is like 65, 67, something like that. And, you know,

Brad (00:29:26):
That’s the average age of farmer. And it is, in other words, the younger generation is not stepping up. They’re heading to the big city?

Tyler (00:29:34):
Yep, yep. So for two reasons. One, oh, well, basically it’s money that dad can’t make enough money on the farm to support more than one family. So there’s no, no income for the younger generation to move into. And the other thing is that the dad is so poor and broke and stressed that the kids are like, I don’t wanna do that. You know, and then the, you know, so there’s, there’s a whole bunch of disincentives right now for the right younger generation to get in, which isn’t to say that they aren’t doing that. There are definitely younger farmers coming in and that the many of, and as far as like hopefulness, there are actually a large growing segment of Midwest farmers who are getting into these regenerative practices. They’re dipping their toe in it. They’re not going a whole hog. But, um, you know, no-till cropping is really becoming really popular, which is, uh, keeping a lot of carbon in the soil as far as farming techniques go.

Tyler (00:30:34):
Cover croppings an up and coming thing, which is a real details. I would get really excited about this, but I’m not really a farmer. You need to talk to a real farmer about this sort of stuff. But the idea is that all the plants need nitrogen to grow, right? And so they’re always spraying on nitrogen, but the reality is, is that we have as much nitrogen in the air as a plant would ever need. You just need to grow the right plant who will capture the nitrogen and put it in the ground, which generally speaking, is not a food plant. You know, it’s not something humans are gonna directly consume, generally speaking. So a cover crop idea is basically you grow a nitrogen fixing plant first, and then you grow your corn crop or whatever. This is not quite right, but the idea is correct, grow, protect, cover crop, grow your cash crop, and then you grow another nitrogen fixing crop.

Tyler (00:31:26):
And so rather than having to spray nitrogen that comes out of a petrochemical in industry, you just pull it out the air with your plants. It’s like, that’s pretty cool. Pretty simple, you know, simple, maybe not easy, but you know, conceptually you’re like, oh, it’s all, it’s all here. Mother Nature didn’t need, you know, artificial fertilizers. They didn’t, mother nature didn’t need herbicides and pesticides and all that sort of stuff. You just have to kind of move the pieces around the playing board long enough until you are farming or ranching in mother nature’s image that the thing about Mother Nature, she’s got it all figured out, but she’s a passive manager. She’s just like, set it and forget it. Like, Hey, I’m done. I’m going off to do my thing. There’s all these internal built-in checks and balances. Now if you can see what her system is, and you can not mess it up as active human managers as stewards of our land, we can take these processes and be like, oh, Mother Nature, I see what you’re doing there.

Tyler (00:32:28):
You don’t want these cows to come back here until that grass has regrown, but you can’t come back on exactly the right day because you don’t have active management. You kind of leave it up to chance a little bit when these cows come back. Well, I am an active farmer, I’m an active rancher. I am farming based on your principles, and I have an electric fence and a cow dog, and I can come back like today because that grass is perfect for grazing. So you can take her things that would take her a hundred years to grow an inch of top soil. You can do that in like a decade with active human management. You’re just taking the same principles of Mother Nature and just adding human creativity, human effort, human attention to it, and that you really get back into that stewardship mentality, school of thought, where we are actively kind of just moving Mother Nature’s program forward rather than kind of letting her doing it, you know, passively or getting in there and just taking a plow to it and just rip, literally ripping it all up. I mean, that works for a while too, but we’ve got what have been doing it for about 50, 60 years, so we got about another 20 or 30 left, so we’re gonna have to change sooner or later.

Brad (00:33:39):
Oh, yes. Tell me more about that statement that we hear bantered about now and then that we’re on a time clock now because of our abuse of the land,

Tyler (00:33:53):
Right. So I can’t, oh, I should’ve looked up the reference before I made, made the half reference, but there is, there is a, what is it, 40 harvest, I think. Yeah. There some smart people have come up with a, with a, with a math showing that, you know, conventional production practices, X amount of carbon goes into the air, X amount of soil goes down the Mississippi into the Gulf of Mexico. And they’ve calculated out that we have about 40, 40 harvests left before things get really bad.

Brad (00:34:25):
Really bad means, um, inability to, to have a harvest. Like the crops aren’t gonna grow because the soil so depleted and the, the atmospheres, all those changes due to mechanized farming is what you’re talking about.

Tyler (00:34:38):

Brad (00:34:40):
We have 40 left until then. We’re in, I don’t know if you saw the movie Idiocracy, where none of the crops were growing because they were not using water. They’re using an energy drink that had, um, you know, taken over the <laugh> the industry. Everyone was drinking it instead of water, and then they were watering the crops and so forth. But, we’re looking at real life Idiocracy situation with 40 more harvest. Yep,

Tyler (00:35:07):
Yep. And I may not, I may have not have the number correct, but the principle is sound that the end is closer than you would think, and that if you’re, but I mean, that sounds pessimistic, but I am not pessimistic about this. I am optimistic. It’s part of the reason why I’ve decided to get out here on podcasts and like tell people that, like I said a little bit earlier, you and you kind of reflected back that we get to vote with our forks, we get to choose our future that yeah, buy organic. When you can buy local, when you can, it’s not perfect. You’re not gonna be able to do everything that way, but every little bit you do counts. And that the more people we get doing that, the more it counts. And that, you know, there are some, and so it’s just so cool, man. You know, you get better food for your body.

Tyler (00:36:00):
You get to grow strong, happy, healthy kids. You get strong healthy body, you’re gonna be around for your kids and your grandkids. You know that the, the food that you’re eating was grown really well. So it’s either a healthy plant in soil or it’s a healthy, happy animal on, on good plants. And those good plants are taking care of the environment. The environment means that it’s sequestering carbon. So these crazy weather cycles are moderating it. It is just, it’s so cool. And then there’s, you know, scientific studies out there quantifying how fast these things can regenerate. And it, it just really comes down to getting people to buy the products, to support what, to support the future that they want. And it doesn’t have to be like this burdensome, like, I have to go a hundred percent organic, but I can’t, I can’t shop at Whole Foods.

Tyler (00:36:48):
I have a real job. And it’s like, well, no, you can’t. And no one really expects you to just do the best you can. That the, the aggregation of every little thing you do has a dramatic impact. Like we, our ranch, like we exist because there’s only maybe, nah, pick a number, a thousand to 2000 people support what we do. And we’ve stood up our whole ranch on a thousand to 2000 people buying our chicken, right? It’s, it doesn’t take a whole lot. So if you’re, you know, go find a farmer supported as best you can, and then, you know, if that farmer maxes out production like some other farmer, I mean, farmers, we want make money too. Like, they’re like, oh, hey, I see someone’s making a lot of money with this chicken thing. Like, I’m gonna go raise some of my own chicken.

Tyler (00:37:34):
And boom, now you have two farmers raising chicken, and if they’re raising chickens on pasture, they’re realizing things and they’re moving chicken and, you know, uh, all sorts of good stuff. And it just comes down to your food choices. And your food choices have like a triple benefit to you. They’re good for you, they’re good for the animal, and they’re good for the land, and they’re good for the future. So that’s a quadruple benefit. And that’s kind of, that’s kind of the simplistic message that I think gives me a lot of hope. It’s just like, just buy some better food and it’s gonna take care of a lot of the problems that our society faces. Yeah.

Brad (00:38:06):
Including the momentum against it right now is there, because people are supporting these planet unfriendly, mechanized food, industrialized practices, and sounds like we’ve done away with, for example, human labor in favor of, uh, you know, machines and strategies, subsidies, things like that, that are getting us away from the tremendous potential that we have that you’ve just described for this regenerative organic farming practices. And, it’s distressing to realize that the, the chemical makers, for example, are putting their muscle in so that the ranchers will, you know, will spray things instead of, uh, you know, rotate the crops. Uh, but again, if the, if the money’s leading elsewhere, um, people are gonna shift gears quickly. Companies are gonna shift gears and, and, that gives us hope. It really does. Yeah. I love how you, I love how you say that. And I’m wondering, back in the eighties when your farm decided to make that experimental switch, were you taking a big risk? Did you, um, did you see that or did dad see that as something that was, you know, wild and crazy and wacky to try something that might not pay off and might put the farm in peril because it wasn’t proven?

Tyler (00:39:31):
Yeah, it was definitely, it was definitely a, a risk for sure. I mean, we, we were pretty confident that it was going to work. That the, I mean, II don’t know how clearly I’ve been conveying it to you, the listener, but that the logic of how what Allan Savory talks about this whole regenerative movement and how just our own innate knowledge of how nature works, it’s just like, oh, this is pretty much the same thing. Like, how could this not work? I mean, so short term uncertainty. Yes. Long-term confidence. Absolutely. Like, we knew it was gonna work, it was just kind of like, do we, you know, do we put the fence in the right spot? Did we put the water trough in the right spot? Like, do we have the right genetics where these cows, you know, you know, there there’s a little, you know, wr iron, you know, wrinkles to iron out, but that the confidence was there.

Tyler (00:40:32):
And, you know, we’ve seen it like, so the saying around here, so we’re on Redbank Creek, it’s right here outside the window, and the saying around here is, uh, dry by the 4th of July that the creeks are dry by the 4th of July. Um, we are on a, what they would technically classify as a seasonal creek. Um, and that through our grazing practices in the eighties and nineties, we actually were able to get our creek to run year round. And so remember how I was talking about how these roots open up the soil infiltrate water? Well, to some degree, to a big degree, the rangeland acts like a sponge. It is a sponge for rainfall. And that if you have more roots, you infiltrate more water, you just hold onto that water. And that imagine, you know, you take your, your, your sink sponge and you kind of like put a little crease into it, and you’ll see that water kind of just seeps down, seeps down, and then seeps out.

Tyler (00:41:28):
And that that bottom crease and then your sponge, that’s the creek. So one very simplistic, but quick way of assessing rangeland health as you’re out there in the world, is look at your riparian zone. That’s the, the ecosystem that lives up and down creek beds. And if you’re seeing lots of cotton will around here, cottonwoods and the willows, and you’re seeing, you know, eddie’s and oxbow bends and, and you know, right along the creek, and then you’ve got your, you know, grapevines and hopefully not blackberries, but they’re, you know, blackberries are invasive, really good for pie, but not great for the environment necessarily. But if you’re seeing them, that’s better than nothing, right? That’s the cool thing is you want something is better than nothing. You can always move to the next level as long as you have that momentum anyways. If you can check out your creeks, that gives you a sense of what the rangeland is like. So if you don’t see any riparian jungle, as we like to call it, and all you see are like cut banks and gravel, like you probably have a poor water cycle, you probably can assume with relative accuracy that that range land is not gonna have a lot of native perennials. It will not have a lot of roots opening up. Its the structure. And, um,

Brad (00:42:41):
Yeah. So before buying a farm, check that creek out. How did the banks and look for some signs of disparate life, I wanna talk about, right? The labeling. And as we stroll into the Farmer’s Market or the supermarket, how we can navigate some of this terminology, the promises behind it, and the confusing and, and what’d you call it, greenwashing, is that greenwashing, You know, what does that mean?

Tyler (00:43:04):
Greenwashing is where you, don’t change your practices and you put a groovy label on it and boom, you’re rejected.

Brad (00:43:15):
Yeah, let’s greenwash this product here and charge a little more. Yeah,

Tyler (00:43:19):
Yeah, exactly. Yep. I guess so. So

Brad (00:43:21):
Yeah, talk about like the gold standard, and we have different terms depending on the animal and then what some of the stuff we see on the label,

Tyler (00:43:30):
Right? So gold standard, you’re, yeah. See it is even tough to really say, because these labels have all, once you have a third party certification, that almost instantly means that there’s loopholes. So organic has some loopholes that you can actually spray some chemicals if you’re an organic farmer on your crops. So the gold standard really is to do the best you can possibly do, right? So that would be, organic is better than not organic. Locally grown is better than, you know, grown in Mexico, you know. So you take the steps as far up as you can go. So the gold standard really would be to know your farmer and believe what they’re doing, which is not always possible, but that would be the gold standard. Like go out to the farm and be like, oh, the guy don’t see any Roundup bottles here.

Tyler (00:44:25):
This guy’s good to go. So in grass and, and beef, grass fed is probably, it would be the standard, uh, American Grass Fed Association certified AGA, they’re the ones that hold the, the, the highest standard, in my opinion, for, for beef. They also certify lamb and goat as well as I believe, um, animal werewolf animal, what is their certification? Animal welfare approved AGW is also another gold standard. You’re not gonna find that at grocery stores though, because that is a super high standard that covers animal welfare, farm labor, genetics. It’s really, really high quality stuff, but it’s, it’s really expensive. It will never, you’ll never be able to find it in a grocery store. But they have a great website for with a farm finder. So animal welfare approved, go to their website, you’ll find a farm nearby. Another place to find grass fedbeef anyways would be go to eat wild.com or if she’s got it. Jo Robinson wrote, almost literally wrote the book about grass fed beef industry that started it back in the early two thousands. And she still has a great directory on her website about all the grass fed beef producers in the US we’re on there. Big Bluff ranch. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>.

Brad (00:45:48):
And you’re talking about a hundred percent grass-fed, grass finished Oh, yeah. All that. Because the term grass fed can be applied to,

Tyler (00:45:56):
Oh, right. Yeah. So it’s

Brad (00:45:57):
Partially grass fed, right?

Tyler (00:45:58):
You’re right. Right. So you’re right, you called me out. You’re a hundred percent right. So this is greenwashing inaction. So technically the way the U S D A has standards that all cows can be called grass fed, because all calves are born out on the range. I mean, very small. The vanishingly small number of them were ever born in a feed lot. They’re all born out on grass. They’ve all lived their first six or nine months on grass. And so under that definition, they all can be called grass fed. So there is a category out there called grass-fed, grain finished. Oh, you’re like, oh, green grass fed. It’s better, is good stuff. But it’s, it’s exactly what your commercial grocery store beef is like. It’s, it’s no different at all. So yes, you’re absolutely right. I get hooked into, in my mind, I know that grass in my mind when I say grass fed, I mean grass fed, grass finished certified.

Tyler (00:46:51):
So you’re absolutely right. See, even I, I just fell for it. You want grass fed, grass finished, that, that is the gold standard, uh, for sure. Preferably grown, you know, in the locally, in your state, if not locally in the US. But, Australia and New Zealand do a great job. Their, their industries down there are really high quality. It just, it’s a little silly to ship meat from Australia to the US but other than that, they do good. The meat itself is good. You know, the, the food miles, maybe not so good, but the product itself is good. Um, so yeah, so greenwashing is a tough thing. I mean, you, you have to educate yourself a little bit. Like when you hear about free range, free range chicken. So, you know, that’s, we do pasture raise. That means our chickens are out on pasture from day one.

Tyler (00:47:40):
They’re out on, on the grass chasing bugs, sitting in the sun, having fun. Now you, when you first hear for your free range, you’re like, oh, well that must be like what Tyler does. They must be out on the range running around ’cause they’re free ranging, right? Well, the industry has got in there and they, they kind of have owned that term. So, in a conventional house, chickens are raised to harvest weight in about, eh, five, six weeks somewhere in that range. And that the industry says, well, for biosecurity, we don’t allow them outside access until week. I dunno, four, something like that.

Brad (00:48:19):
What does biosecurity mean?

Tyler (00:48:21):
Well, the biosecurity is like, well, I don’t want a wild tweety bird to fly into my house and bring a coffee. Um, you know, that’s, that’s the biosecurity excuse. And, and it’s true.

Tyler (00:48:34):
I mean, when you over, you know, if you pack in lots of animals in a small space and they don’t have their natural ability to regulate spacing and density and to get away from disease or, or, or any of that sort of stuff, yeah. I mean, it’s like, it’s like sending your kids off to school, right? It’s a Petri dish, right? They go off to school, they get packed in with all those germs. They bring, bring the bugs home, and next thing you know, you’re sick. Kind of the same idea that the conventional houses are just breeding, potential breeding grounds for disease. And so they really do have to be careful about letting stuff in because it’s an absolute issue where you get one chicken sick in a house full of chickens, and then next thing you know, that entire house has got the same disease.

Tyler (00:49:16):
It doesn’t, there’s no little illness in a chicken. It’s either all or nothing. So, so free range anyways, that they have these, these parameters such that they don’t get let out very early in their, in their life. And when they do get opened let out, all that’s really happening is doors are opening on the side of the barn and they’re let out into a little, it’s almost like a, well, different farms do it different ways, you know? ’cause yard, it’s a little, it’s a little yard, it’s a little yard, and it’s, doesn’t even have to have grass on it, it just has to be outside. And chickens are immensely creatures of habits. Like they do the same thing every single day. And so if you open up a door, they’re like, I don’t do that thing. And so, you know, you have say, 40,000 chickens in a barn.

Tyler (00:50:01):
You go out there in the middle of the day and you’ll see like 10 outside, 20, a hundred. I mean, a vanishingly small fraction, these free range is not what you think it is. Um, kind of the same thing with the vegetarian fed-eggs. Chickens are not vegetarians. They are carnivorous little baby dinosaurs that love to kill and eat things. Uh, feeding chickens only vegetables is really going against what they actually want to eat. They want to eat, they want to eat things. So that to me is really just outrageous. Like they’re making a virtue out of a, out of something that’s bad. I mean, you can’t really, the diet that the conventional houses have to use, it’s tough to incorporate meat byproducts because of rancicity. And, uh, so they really have to kind of feed ’em a vegetarian diet, but to, to not brag about it <laugh> exactly.

Tyler (00:50:59):
To like, oh, hey, I can’t actually feed the chickens what they’re supposed to eat, but hey, I’m gonna make it sound like I’m doing an amazing thing. And they’re vegetarian fed. So all eggs are basically vegetarian fed if you’re buying ’em at the grocery store. And that pretty much means that all eggs are coming from hens that are not eating a complete diet. That they’re kind of what naturally prefer to eat. Um, yeah, they love bugs and you know, they’ll go after mice and you, it’ll kill small snakes. I mean, you have some, we have, we keep some hands around the yard, and it’s like dad’s, they, they want meat. They’re, they’re happy to be carnivorous. They’re not predators, but they certainly will like to amend their diet with, with high protein. It’s just like humans, right? We should eat mostly plants, eat some meat, and if you’re gonna eat meat, eat really good meat.

Brad (00:51:49):
So pasture-raised chicken, that distinctive term means that they, they lived mostly outdoors, or is there some nuance there? And then describe their, their overall diet that they’re eating bugs, worms, things that they can easily catch and then they might get the odd mouse or snake. I didn’t realize that with the chicken.

Tyler (00:52:10):
Well, that, that’s more level on the layer side, but yeah, the layers are, are, are way more vigorous. Yeah. So pasture raised is not a regulated term. So that means anyone can use that for what they want to, and only, and for the most part, it really hasn’t been watered down. There’s a couple companies out there who are kind of getting into the space and using it when I don’t think they should. But generally speaking, if you’re gonna talk to a farmer, a person who’s actually raising the birds, not like some corporate wholesale type dude, and they say pasture raised, like, that’s legit. ’cause that means that this person is, I say I want my birds on pasture. I want them on fresh pasture. I want them moving to fresh pasture. That means I’m, that person’s worried about the grass, the recovery the quality of the, the pasture that the birds are on.

Tyler (00:53:03):
And so that is, that’s a, that’s, that’s a good term. As long as you’re not buying, generally speaking, you’re not buying pasture raised in the grocery store if you’re buying it from a farmer. Ah, yeah. That, that would be a gold standard for sure. And as far as what these pasture raised chickens eat that, even though I just gave a long story about how chickens are carnivorous and they do love to eat meat. They are not predators, they’re not carnivores, they’re not hawks or anything like that. They actually do get, the bulk of their nutrition needs to come from, from grains. They’re designed to eat grains. They have something called a crop and a gizzard. So a crop is like this big kind of weird bulge in their throat where they stuff a whole bunch of grain into, like imagine if you’re a quail out here in California.

Tyler (00:53:51):
They go off, they, they’re running around and they steal their crop full of, of seeds that they spend all day collecting. And then they kind of somehow swallow it down into their gizzard, which is this big ball of muscle. Like imagine a stomach that has its own muscle and they’ve got some rocks in there and they just sit here and they grind with their gizzard with these rocks and the seeds and they crack ’em down and they eat ’em. They’re designed to eat grains. So back to the cow discussion, cows are ruminants, they have four stomachs, they’re designed to eat grass, and they’re not designed to eat grain back to chickens. They have one stomach and they’ve got this gizzard, they are designed to eat grain. So chickens, they’re meant to eat grain. It’s okay for ’em to have grain. That’s, that’s their natural diet.

Tyler (00:54:39):
And so yeah, when, when we have ’em out on pasture, they get a lot of grass, they get a lot of like, whatever bugs they can find. But we also supplement with a lot of grain, grain feed. So, and that’s gonna be true across the board of any pasture-raised chicken that, you know, when we hear pasture raised, a lot of people ask like, oh, so you don’t feed ’em any grain? You’re like, well, no, no, they’re designed to eat grain. They need to eat grain. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But we give them fresh pasture. Think of it like a salad on steroids. Right. You know, they absolutely need that, but they can’t live on it.

Brad (00:55:14):
So I guess the chickens, a domesticated animal that needs human intervention in the diet, essentially. It’s not a, it’s not, there’s not like wild chickens running around surviving on grass and worms and

Tyler (00:55:31):
Exactly. So, huh, another little soap box here. So, chickens, they came from Indonesia and they, they existed, you know, in, in, in jungles. And then somehow they spread across the world and that they still like, that, they still like living in their initial genetic instincts is to live in small groups, kind of under trees, like zipping out, grabbing something, zipping back into cover. And that’s how uh, chickens were raised until, you know, maybe the early forties, I think it was fifties. And what has, oh no, I lost my train of thought. Ah, um,

Brad (00:56:17):
Hens came from Indonesia. They’re, and then we domesticated them and

Tyler (00:56:22):
Right. We domesticated them. And so, oh, right. So the whole point is that chickens. Okay, got it. Now I’m going, you just said that chickens, um, chickens need outside intervention. They need human intervention. That’s absolutely true. That the way we as a culture have decided to eat chicken is not in balance with how nature would produce chicken on its own. So we have, as a culture have decided, hey, we like kitchen A, we like chicken a lot. We like chicken above and beyond the actual carrying capacity of the landscape. So depending on where you are, you know, like how much quail do you have running around, how many turkeys do you have running around like per acre? You’re not gonna have very many. You’re gonna have, I don’t know, two pick a number. It’s a small number. And, but as society, we’ve said that no, we like chicken a lot.

Tyler (00:57:14):
And so we are working above and beyond within reason, the capacity of the land that we’re putting on more animals in that one spot. This is part of where the active human management, uh, equation steps, steps in. We’re like, mother Nature would only probably raise a hundred chickens here on this acre, but we’re a human. We understand why she said a hundred chickens only. And we can now kind of work with that system like, oh, only a hundred chickens because we didn’t grow enough grain for ’em. Well, we can bring the grain in only a hundred chickens in this acre because they’d over polluted if they stay here long. Well that’s fine, we’ll move them to the next acre. So we can kind of take mother nature’s system and kind of bump it up, which is what we as a culture have kind of decided.

Tyler (00:57:58):
And so if you think about what I was talking about with the beef, where basically you got for grass of beef, you got cow, you got sun, and you got grass. Those are the only real end human intelligence. Those are the only real ingredients. And those are all essentially free once you buy the ground. Whereas with chickens, you have those exact same ingredients plus corn, or grain, I should say grain. We, we do no corn, no soy, so grain. So all of a sudden you have added an extra layer of expense in this production. So you should actually spend more, chickens should be more expensive than beef in the long run. Grass fed chicken should be, or grass fed beef is basically nature. Pasture raised chicken requires human intervention. And so there is a, uh, part of the reason that we think chicken is so cheap is that there was a, uh, there was a presidential, uh, campaign back in the fifties and his tagline was, uh, a chicken in every pot.

Tyler (00:59:04):
And so back in those days when chickens were still raised on a more natural scale, when when you wanted a chicken dinner, it was kind of a big deal. Sunday being like the fancy meal of the week, right? You’re gonna sit down, you’re gonna spend some time making your Sunday roast chicken. It was not a throwaway meal. It was like the main meal of the week. And so grandma would go out and whack one of her chickens and pluck it and cook it off. And that was a big deal because before we came up with this excess pile of corn, chickens had to survive on what was around the farm yard. This perhaps grandma would throw out the backyard the seeds and the bugs that the hens could find. And so that gets back to the mother nature idea of, like I said, a hundred, a hundred, a hundred animals per acre.

Tyler (00:59:49):
Right? That was a natural balance. That was only a hundred chickens per acre. That was not enough for grandma to raise 5,000 chickens to sell to her neighbors. That was like enough for one chicken every week. And even that was probably a lot. And so that is why chickens are, should be more expensive, is because we have exceeded the natural capacity in a very intelligent way. Whereas grass fed beef should be a lot cheaper because we’re just using Mother Nature’s stuff. So the meat case, the prices you pay in your grocery store, the meat you see displayed in the grocery store is not really reflective of how we should be eating off of our environment. Like in California, we should be eating a lot of goat, a lot of lamb, because we are a Mediterranean climate. That’s how we grow a forage around here.

Tyler (01:00:43):
We should be eating some beef because we do have some decent pastures down around the valleys, down, down, down by the rivers. We should be eating less pork and we should be eating, you know, very little chicken, right? Because that’s what Mother Nature grows. And that’s to some degree that is, well, to a lot of degree that is what I am trying to do here on the ranch is to create a meat offering that, um, that is California appropriate. You know, even more specifically Northern California and the Sacramento Valley appropriate because southern California is a whole different beast down there. I don’t even know what they should eat, but it’d still be a lot of lamb and goat. But, and that gets back to the idea of understanding mother nature, understanding her process and our local environment, and then taking our human, um, intelligence and stepping into that process and thoughtfully and correctly tweaking with it, making it, making it work for what we as a society want.

Brad (01:01:44):
So, uh, what about the commentary that the ruminant animal that the cow and the others fair better on this adverse dietary practice of the grain feed versus the chicken or the pig? Is that you dimension that you don’t do? So soy or corn, is that the stuff that really, the monogastric animals, the chicken and the pig have trouble digesting. And then as the story goes that I’m familiar with, they’re giving off an end product that has, uh, high polyunsaturated content in their flesh versus the, uh, the cow, the multi chambered stomach is able to kind of, uh, deliver a favorable end product because they can better handle, um, this stuff that’s not supposed to be in their diet.

Tyler (01:02:33):
So you’re feeding corn to all those animals and you’re saying that the cow produces the better, worst option? Yeah,

Brad (01:02:41):
That’s the commentary that’s, that’s going around. Dr. Paul Saldino talks about this at length and some other people have said, um, you know, obviously trying to get a pasture raised free range a hundred percent grass fed is gonna be the best. But then if you are compelled to choose a conventionally raised animal, the monogastric animals are gonna fare worse than the, than the ruminant animals in processing that, that feed from their diet. He’s thnking people. He Is thinking.

Tyler (01:03:14):
Yeah. So the way I answer these questions in my mind is I go back and I try and compare what the animals should eat to what they are eating. And at no point in my understanding would a cow ever eat a lot of grain in my understanding of chickens. I know that, you know, chickens say they’re like a pheasant or a quail. Those animals do eat a lot of grain.

Brad (01:03:44):
So when you say grown is there a distinction between, well,

Tyler (01:03:47):
Like seedheads, like they’re going out there in the native grasses and they’re, they’re pulling off and eating. They’re, they’re eating the soft chest, they’re eating the, the purple needle grass seeds, you know, they’re eating seeds off of the grasses that grow here naturally. So that would be a grain, that would be my equivalent. So there’s, you know, grains that grains the seeds that the native range produces, and there would be the, the grains that humans are growing like the, the corn and the, the wheat and the barley and all that sort of stuff. And so I would think, and I don’t know the science on this, but I would think that chickens are to some degree meant to eat corn, um, or eat grains anyways, corn. Yeah, I mean the, I have heard people say that corn and soy is not the appropriate diet for chickens, but I also know that when we used to seed corn and soy to our chickens is kind of the base of our, our seed that they did great.

Tyler (01:04:45):
You know, that they’re, that’s a tough question. I don’t, I don’t have an answer for you as, as a farmer, as what I am trying to do. I would say that the reasons we choose the way we feed our animals is that that is the most species appropriate that we can get to. And I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure I’m right. And so we stay away from corn and soy, not because I think it’s bad for the animals, although that may be true, but the reason I stay away from corn and soy is that I think it is more an appropriate way of feeding our animals for the California environment. I keep harping on this ’cause I think it’s important that California is a Mediterranean climate and we grow good winter crops. Right now we’re using wheat as our part of our ration and wheat grow.

Tyler (01:05:33):
California used to be a major producer in the world of wheat back in the, well before the California, the Valley, California Water Project. So in the, in the thirties and forties and twenties, I dunno if you’ve seen these old timey, uh, farm pictures, like they’ll have like a hundred mules set up and they’ll be harvesting thousands of acres of grain and like this old mule drawn combine. And it’s really cool pictures if you ever find them. But California grew tons of wheat. It’s something that our climate does really well. And so if I am, and since we are trying to create a, I don’t, I haven’t a meat case, call it a meat case, a California meat appropriate meat case, when you walk into a grocery store, you see the meat there. What is, what should California be producing and putting into that meat case?

Tyler (01:06:20):
And so that’s why I said, you know, some beef, a lot of goat and lamb, some chicken, and if of that chicken, that chicken should be eating something that can be grown here in California. Ah-huh. And this case wheat would be as a really good option. We’re not talking about having to irrigate in the summer with corn. We’re not worried about all the weird, I don’t want to get too much into the political aspects of like the G M O and the, and the this and the that, but I mean, that’s there too. But basically wheat is what we could grow here, so why not? And chickens do really well at wheat, so why not just feed ’em wheat? And then you have all these cool knock-on effects of like human health and animal health and, and all this other sort of stuff, but it all kind of stems from trying to be as ecologically appropriate as possible. Hmm.

Brad (01:07:08):
So it we took pretty nice way to sum up what I feel is a nice, uh, quick overview of many aspects of farming and, uh, the great stuff you’re doing there. So I really appreciate you taking the time, Tyler, this was fun. Um, tell us how we can connect further with what’s going on at Big Bluff Ranch. We can order directly and, and try some of this chicken for ourselves and be the, be the ultimate judges of the superiority of a, of a animal race in a healthy manner for, for itself and the environment. How do we connect with you?

Tyler (01:07:42):
Right. So, um, we will obviously go to Big Bluff Ranch.com and if you, if you like gambling a little bit, go to big bluff ranch.com/giveaway and we do monthly giveaways. So go ahead, go to the giveaway page, sign up, you’ll, get on our email newsletter. You’re gonna learn even more of this stuff that I love to talk about. If you’re here local to California, we’re, we’re not too far a drive away. We actually have a little cabin here at the lake that people can come visit. So yeah, it’s big will ranch.com/giveaway and get it on the email list and come visit sometime

Brad (01:08:23):
Rancher, Tyler Dawley, spending time with us. Thank you everybody. Thanks Tyler. Thanks for listening. Da da da. Thank you so much for listening to the B.rad Podcast. We appreciate all feedback and suggestions. Email, podcast@bradventures.com and visit brad kearns.com to download five free eBooks and learn some great long cuts to a longer life. How to optimize testosterone naturally, become a dark chocolate connoisseur and transition to a barefoot and minimalist shoe lifestyle.




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