Most Frequently Asked Questions
Please find following the most common — and not so common — questions about TK Ranch. These questions will talk about how our program differs from other natural, organic or conventional farms and ranches. We will be will including a table showing the direct comparisons between these production methods so that you, the consumer, can compare apples to apples — or more likely apples to oranges.
Where and when do you deliver?
Pick up locations: we deliver to our specified Calgary and Edmonton pick up locations, once a month per city, and now in Calgary on Wednesdays at one location per week (see our Delivery Dates Calendar).
Do TK Ranch animals ever receive antibiotics?
- Any animals processed for meat must be tracked from birth to slaughter to ensure they have never received antibiotics. If an animal gets sick, and alternative therapies do not make it better, we will use antibiotics to reduce stress and suffering. We will then record the animal in our system and sell it publicly or use it for breeding stock — it will never be processed into our program for meat.
Are TK Ranch animals ever implanted with artificial growth hormones like Ralgro?
- Our animals are never given any growth hormones. It is important to understand that chickens and pigs are not given artificial growth hormones in the conventional system, but are fed antibiotics as an artificial growth stimulant instead. We do not use these in our TK Ranch program either.
I have heard that feeding animal by-products caused Mad Cow Disease. Does TK Ranch feed animal by-products?
- None of the animals in our program ever receive animal by-products in their feed. This is an important question because some consumers believe that after Mad Cow Disease happened that the feeding of animal by-products was banned in Canada and the US. This is not true — as long as an animal is not fed its own species — i.e.: cows being fed cows — it is still allowed. Cows are still routinely fed rendered chicken and pork by-products as a way to decrease costs — animal by-products are high in protein and help an animal to grow more quickly. Unless you know for a fact that the meat you are consuming does not have animal by-products (for example all grain fed chicken) you can be fairly certain that it is.
I have heard that some natural beef companies routinely feed their cattle a type of antibiotic called Rumensin. Does TK Ranch feed Rumensin to their cattle and/or sheep?
- Rumensin is an ionophores (PDF) that many farmers and ranchers use to prevent a serious condition in cattle and sheep called acidosis. This is caused by feeding ungulates (grass eaters) high carbohydrate grain rations that they are not naturally designed to digest. As a result of this they get sick. The pharmaceutical industry invented ionophores to prevent acidosis so that cattle and sheep could be finished more quickly in a feedlot on grain. Unfortunately many consumers have not heard of ionophores and so do not know to ask about it. In addition to this some people in the livestock industry do not consider ionophores antibiotics so do not divulge this very important fact to their customers. We believe that ionophores are antibiotics and as a consumer you should ask this important question of your natural beef supplier.
Do you use chemical insecticides like Ivomec on any of your cattle, pigs or sheep?
- We do not use any chemical insecticides in our program, ever. Occasionally we will feed diatomaceous earth as a natural de-wormer and for external parasites — but this is not a chemical but a fossilized diatom. Some researchers such as Mark Purdy believe that Mad Cow Disease is actually caused by chemicals found in these insecticides and their reaction with other naturally occurring minerals in the soil. On TK Ranch we have seen what these insecticides do to the mineral cycle when they are deposited in fresh manure — no insects or bugs will touch it. Instead it sits on the surface of the ground and dries out. On TK Ranch it only takes a few minutes for a fresh pile of manure to be covered with flies and beetles. Within a couple of days it is reduced to very little and returns to the soil. This is just another example of how a simple decision can affect more than just the animal treated, but also the ecosystem it depends upon.
Is TK Ranch beef really grass-fed or is it grain finished?
- On TK Ranch the terms grass-fed and grass finished mean the same thing — that we do not feed our cattle grain from birth to slaughter. Many producers in the Alberta marketplace that are selling “grass-fed beef” are actually selling grain finished beef. It is up to you as a consumer to ask if the animal ever gets grain and if they are confined in a feedlot for the last few months before being processed. Please see What About Grass-fed Beef? for more information.
In the wake of news of ground beef recalls and fears of e-coli in beef processed at X-L Foods in Edmonton, I wanted to ask you where your meat is slaughtered, butchered, and packed.
- We do not use factory processing plants like XL because they cannot follow our program protocols (we want to handle our own cattle into the kill box to reduce stress, hang (dry age) our beef for 21 days and have it cut portion ready). I believe XL processes 1000 cattle per day in Calgary, Cargill processes 4000 per day in Fort MacLeod, and Lakeside Packers processes 4500 per day in Brooks. We use a small family owned abattoir in Duchess called Alberta Prairie Meats that only processes up to 40 head per week — so very small by comparison. They are very progressive and meet all of our program protocols or we would not be using them.