Meeting the food safety needs of our customers as well as those set out by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Alberta Meat Inspection Branch (MIB) are very important to us. After speaking to thousands of people about their food safety concerns we created our stringent protocols. These include:
- All animals are tracked from birth to slaughter with ear tags, freeze brands and RFID (radio frequency identification) tags for traceability;
- The use of sub-therapeutic antibiotics is not allowed, this includes the use of ionophores (feed antibiotics that are used to prevent illness in cattle that are fed grain). We use antibiotics therapeutically only to treat sick or injured animals to prevent suffering. There are very few treated because our management keeps them healthy and content. The withdrawal time if treated is usually 18 months to two years;
- Artificial growth hormones (eg. Ralgro) are not allowed (some people refer to these as steroids);
- The feeding of animal by-products is not allowed;
- The use of chemical insecticides is not allowed (eg. Ivomec);
- Only unsprayed and/or certified organic feed is allowed. Animals must also graze on unsprayed and/or certified organic pastures (unless severe drought causes a feed shortage and no other options are available);
- The feeding of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) is not allowed;
- All animals must be slaughtered and processed in small government inspected facilities, and;
- All processed meats must be made without the use of MSG, gluten, milk products, nitrites, nitrates or other artificial ingredients or fillers.
In 2016 TK Ranch completed construction of our own provincially inspected slaughter facility, it is located right on our ranch. It is third party audited to the highest animal welfare standards in North America – Animal Welfare Approved. This way we do not have to transport our animals long distances or lose control of how they are treated at the end of their lives. We also built our own Alberta Health Services inspected and approved meat cutting facility on land we purchased near Calgary. Currently we only process 6 beef and 6 pigs every week and this is done with the utmost respect by TK Ranch family members and staff. When you compare this model to large factory facilities that process between 1000 and 4500 beef every day you can see how much of a difference this makes to the animal and the end product.