Katie and Jim Haack raise a small herd of Belted Kingshire cattle, a miniature beef breed, in the lush Snoqualmie River Valley, 30 miles east of Seattle, Washington. Jim grew up spending summers tending cattle and horses on his grandfather’s small farm in central Missouri, but it wasn’t until 2000 that the couple abandoned the suburbs of the Pacific Northwest for a 75-acre farm in Carnation, Washington, a community with a long history of dairy farming, named after Carnation Milk.
The farm is located in river bottomland pasture, with sandy loam soils rich in volcanic minerals from the Cascade Mountains. The light but consistent rainfall allows the Haacks to harvest hay in addition to the grass their cattle graze. The smaller size of the Belted Kingshire breed allows Jim and Katie to raise more cattle on less pasture when compared to the main commodity beef breeds. A triple cross between the mini-Hereford, mini-Angus and mid-sized Highland cattle, the Belted Kingshire was developed to excel in a pasture-based system and converts feed to muscle more efficiently than larger breeds. While the Belted Kingshires make lean beef, they also marble well on pasture in 16 to 18 months. In addition, Jim and Katie appreciate their docile manner and exceptional mothering skills. All of these attributes are important as Jim and Katie develop an on-farm breeding program.
The most important aspect of K-T Cattle Company’s husbandry practices is their attempt to mimic nature. “We move our herd under a management-intensive grazing program,” says Jim. “The benefits of this are many, including parasite control, nutrient management, pasture and soils health, and well-balanced access to fresh grass. Our animals are born and raised on our farm with the greatest care for their wellbeing, treated with dignity and respect, and allowed to express their natural instinctive behaviors.” Cattle at K-T Cattle Company are never given antibiotics, hormones, steroids, or other additives and they are slaughtered on-farm, eliminating the stress of transport that can affect meat quality.
Making sure that their herd has access to healthy pastures is integral to translating these ideals into management techniques: “We believe pasture-based production is a healthy, sustainable, humane, soils-focused, carbon sequestration engine capable of saving the world!” Jim and Katie pursued AWA certification for their herd of Belted Kingshire beef cattle in order to have an independent third-party verify their high-welfare practices. “We believe in so doing, we not only validate the integrity of our farm but add a valuable advisor to our production ‘team,’ ” says Jim. K-T Cattle Company also recently received King Conservation District Farm of Merit status for sustainable management practices.
Jim and Katie are helped on the ranch by their two sons, Keenan and Conner, and their dog, Shadow. They hope to grow the herd in the coming years and keep improving the farm. “We want a diverse and naturally integrated livestock farm providing the highest quality healthy local food, and capable of sustaining itself on minimum outside inputs. An income would be pretty nice, too!” Jim laughs.
K-T Cattle Company’s grassfed beef is available direct from the farm in wholes, halves, and quarters. For more information, visit www.KTCattleCompany.com or contact Katie and Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org or (425) 333-6663.