HOW WE DEFINE QUALITY
GENETICS AND BREED
It all starts with genetics and breed. The genetic profile of an animal is important for several reasons. Each breed has its own particular strengths and weaknesses. For example, some breeds are known for being hardy and naturally resistant to pests, while others are favored for their rate of growth.
Within each breed, there are specific genetic variants which the rancher can choose to focus on, such as tenderness, marbling, demeanor, frame size, color, mothering abilities, and many others. At Augustus Ranch the intended purpose is to produce an exceptional quality eating experience, so we are mostly concerned about what the animal looks like on the inside. We also believe in building herds that are well suited to the hot, intense Texas climate which helps to minimize stress on the animals.
Angus is the most popular breed of beef cattle in the United States. Originally from Scotland, these animals made their way over in the late 1800's and were crossed with more typical cattle breeds of that time. Angus are primarily black, but we have both black and red Angus genetics.
Hereford cattle descend from an English breed. They are easy to spot with their red body and white face. Their general hardiness, good mothering abilities, and strong rate of growth made them popular, particularly in the American Southwest. They are a great all around breed.
Brahman is a breed of Zebu cattle. It was first introduced and bred in the United States through animals brought over from India. They've become a popular worldwide breed due to a generally high tolerance to intense heat. Their thick skin also make them naturally resistant to insects and flies.
We focus on heritage breed pigs which produce incredible fat and deep colored, flavorful meat. Some heritage breeds were on the brink of extinction in the earlier part of the last century, but due to an increased demand for an alternative to the pale and lean tasteless pork found in most grocery stores, heritage breeds have made a big comeback. We rely mostly on the Duroc breed as the base for our pork program. We then focus on introducing 1 or 2 other lines to create hybrid combinations. This allows us to achieve a unique result with hybrid vigor. Our end goal is a two or three way hybrid cross with a 50% to 75% Duroc base. The result is a delicious, uniquely flavored pork.
Duroc pigs are a great all around breed which produces fantastic flavored pork. Darker red color, good marbling, and generally tender meat make this an optimal base for our heritage pork program. These animals are typically very docile and have a low stress disposition with good mothering abilities.
Other breeds we love include Large Black, Landrace, Hereford, Red Wattle, Berkshire, and Old Spot. Each of these breeds have different characteristics. Some of them are leaner and longer in frame while others are shorter and more stout. The darker colored pigs tend to do best in our hot climate.
Goat is said to be the most highly consumed red meat in the world, but if you're living in the United States you likely don't have that impression. Goats are phenomenal land management tools. While cattle mostly tend to focus on grass and pasture forage, goats will eat a hugely diverse array of plants including weeds, shrubs, bushes, grass, and leaves. Several invasive plant species, even poison oak, can be fully eliminated with high density goat herd management. As for meat, goats are unique and tend to have dense, lean muscle fibers. The flavor and quality of meat can be improved through breed selection, and we've mostly focused on two distinct breeds for that purpose.
Boer goats originated from South Africa and were selected for meat production over milk. They are generally white with brown heads and sometimes brown feet. They are a very docile, friendly breed which have great foraging abilities and grow at steady rate.
Spanish goats are extremely hardy and do a great job at foraging. They are typically smaller than Boer goats and usually black or dark brown in appearance. They tend to be more shy, but when combined with the more outgoing Boer, they relax and follow the lead.
Finishing is the last stage of the process before our animals become high quality, nutritious food. It means controlling the conditions, timing, and diet of each animal in their last 2 to 3 months. In combination with genetics, this will contribute heavily to the consistency and flavor of the meat. It can mean the difference between ordinary and exceptional. One of the most important details in this process is the quality and quantity of fat. Therefore finishing can also mean fattening. Fat is flavor, and it’s also a nutritional powerhouse which strongly shapes the overall integrity of a meat product. Paying close attention to the quality of fat means ensuring that the animals have a healthy fatty acid profile.
Most of our animals, unless kept under our green label, are finished with a combination of fresh forage and a custom, non-gmo finishing ration which we’ve spent years formulating. It contains no corn or soy, which is what the majority of conventionally finished animals receive because it's cheap. Instead, we offer a supplemental proprietary ration which we refer to as "rainfall in a sack". Our ration promotes high omega-3 and CLA content in the meat. Our goal is to create a consistent, chef quality product that maintains a high level of nutritional integrity. Achieving this balance is one of our biggest priorities, and custom finishing our animals in a non-conventional setting makes this possible.
Processing is an extremely important part of the food system. Taking the raw, visceral components of life and turning them into high quality food requires careful attention to detail. As ranchers, we spend a significant amount of time ensuring that we provide a natural, low stress environment for our animals. Years of hard work can be ruined in a single day with inhumane treatment or negligent mishandling, therefore we use only small, hyper local, owner managed facilities to achieve the best results possible. Our animals never travel longer than 1 hour to the processor. This helps keep stress levels minimal while ensuring that they will receive the quickest, most humane treatment possible.
Having knowledge on how to utilize the entire animal from nose to tail is the best way to express respect and gratitude for the sacrifice of an animal's life. We make a point to remind people that we don't sell steaks, we sell animals. The craft of butchery holds the key to ensuring quality control over this process, but it is quickly becoming a lost art. Simply put, we don't look at our products as commodities. Our meat is a representation of our most important values. We focus on using all parts of the animal, including the organs, bones, and fat.