Competing ethical meat standards leave Alberta beef farmers in crossfire
April 28, 2016
Colleen Biggs and her husband, Dylan, own an award-winning livestock operation in Alberta. TK Ranch produces beef without antibiotics, drugs, added hormones, animal by-products and chemical insecticides. The Biggs are even building their own abattoir to further ensure their black and red Angus cattle are treated well.
Their ranch has earned the Animal Welfare Approved seal indicating it produces ethical meat. It is regularly audited to make sure it meets AWA’s standards, such as how many animals are permitted on a piece of pasture and how they are treated at the slaughterhouse.
Success with livestock is based upon effective communication between the stockman and the animal, says cattle handler Dylan Biggs
Dylan Biggs is a very focused man. Calm. When he's handling a herd of cattle his head, hands and upper body are still. It's just his legs that are moving as he paces back and forth, up and down. His movements are mesmerizing to both cattle and people.
Dylan is an Alberta rancher who travels extensively, teaching farmers no-stress cattle handling techniques.
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The direct option
At first, direct marketing gave Dylan and Colleen Biggs hope to save the farm. Now it's driving robust expansion
By Steven Biggs, CG Contributing Editor | March 3, 2015
"They told me I would fail," says Colleen Biggs, remembering the phone call she made soon after taking over sales and
marketing on the home ranch. It was 1995, and with no room to cut costs any deeper, she had called the Alberta Ag Ministry to find out more about direct marketing, thinking their way forward had to be to add value.
Conventional wisdom said it couldn't work, especially in a province dominated by a powerhouse commercial beef sector. But what other choice was there?
Animal Welfare label confirms TK Ranch commitment
By Shirley Byers | March 10, 2015
Alberta ranch finds the opportunity to reinforce their values of proper livestock production practices
One of the advantages of direct marketing is receiving feedback through direct contact with the people who will be eating your product. Colleen and Dylan Biggs have been marketing ranch-finished beef and other meat products from their east-central Alberta ranch since 1995, and listening to their customers.
Global Edmonton Woman of Vision Recipients 2011-2012
The 2011-2012 list at globaltvedmonton.com
Alberta's Woman of Vision a champion of grass-fed organic beef
By Leslie MacDonald, August 2, 2011
Their story sounds like something straight out of a fairy tale. Beautiful vegetarian meets her stereotype of the big, bad cowboy rancher who turns out to be passionate about animal welfare and the environment. They fall in love, and 22 years later, have four beautiful daughters and one of the most respected ranches on the Prairies. But, as Colleen Biggs soon discovered, life on an Alberta ranch or farm is anything but a fairy tale. The tough economic realities of very slim margins, set market pricing and uncontrollable cost fluctuations almost forced them off their land. That's what led this tenacious former military drill sergeant to take the bull by the horns, so to speak, and develop a business model that has made her an innovator in Alberta's cattle industry. more
Livestock at TK Ranch seem 'pretty happy' in grassland pastures
By Gail Hall, July 27, 2011
For many Albertans buying local is part of the regular shopping experience. ... But another great way to get educated is by visiting an actual farm. I took that route recently with a visit to a producer that I have long respected ? TK Ranch outside of Hanna, Alberta. more
More on the PCES Conference: Good news amid the bad
March 24, 2010
While the general tenor of the Prairie Conservation and Endangered Species Conference in Winnipeg was "things are bad and we've got to do better," there were plenty of stories about people finding ways to "do better" by the prairie. There were the farmers and ranchers who are sustaining grassland habitat while growing food for the rest of us — people like Alberta's Dylan and Colleen Biggs, who received an award at the banquet for their conservation efforts as ranchers ... Go to Full Article
TK Ranch manages ecological sustainability with economic benefit to the community
By Shelly Willson, April 2005
Trick question: can you guess what kind of environmentally friendly business would be most likely to win a string of provincial awards, including the annual SPCA award, the 2000 Growing Alberta Environmental Stewardship Award, and nomination for the prestigious Emerald Award? Go to Full Article
Organic family farms benefit
June 3, 2003
At least one farm business stands to profit from the scare over mad-cow disease: grass-fed beef. Colleen Biggs, who offers grass-fed beef from a ranch near Hannah, Alta., said she's been getting a lot of calls since bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was discovered in an Alberta cow last month. ... Biggs attributes the rising sales to concern about practices in industrial beef production, particularly the use of meat byproducts in cattle feed. Go to Full Article