Cates Family Farm

Cates Family Farm
Spring Green, Wisconsin

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Most people ask, “What is that brown, deer-like breed in your beef herd?” Well, they’re Jerseys of course. We’ve come to truly appreciate our Jerseys for multiple reasons. First, we’ve found that, despite their slower weight gains, they do marble well, but more specifically, their meat turns a deep dark red full of nutrients and their fat is a pure golden-yellow lending to a tremendous amount of flavor as grass-fed finished beef. More flavor than dare I say anything I have tasted. Primarily, we take the whole Jersey animal for our ground beef and smoked products, giving us the deepest flavors possible not only thanks to the breed, but thanks to the fact that we don’t skimp on the cuts we grind - Ribeyes, Roasts, Briskets - they all go in there for some of the best ground beef you can find anywhere.

Secondly, Jersey bull-calves (well, any dairy bull calf) have historically been an under-utilized, and under-appreciated asset to our (Wisconsin’s) Dairy industry. A generation or two ago, they were not - everyone had a small dairy herd and families grew up on Jersey beef. In fact, many people tell us that our beef tastes like they “remember” beef tasting when they were a kid. So we have partnered with a handful of local dairy farmers who raise Jersey and we have provided them an enterprise that otherwise wasn’t there. We provide them a fair, above-market price for their calves. In return, they provide us with a well cared for, quiet and clean, well-handled animal that is more like a pet dog than anything else. They fit into our landscape and culture perfectly.

Lastly, the personality of the Jersey is like no other. They are funny, smart, curious, and just so dang cute. We’ve found our handling stress (for both us and the animal) has gone way down since we’ve introduced Jerseys. They come running (up to us) anytime we show up, and moving them by foot is easier than by any other method.

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Of course we still use Angus in our mix. Angus is one of the most widely-known and served beef across the states and they are experts at eating grass and converting that to muscle and fat. Angus grow quite a bit faster than Jerseys and are widely available, which helps to fulfill some of gaps in high demands. We source all of our Angus from the wonderful Gaffney Family out of Barneveld, WI, who have a very well known name for their breeding and herd genetics. Through them, we are guaranteed a consistent and strong calf that is healthy (as a horse!) and grows well in our system. Similar to our relationships with our Jersey producers, we’ve created a symbiosis with the Gaffneys and we’re lucky to call them friends and colleagues.