Integrity Ranching is a family based operation originally founded in Patricia, Alberta. John Beasley grew up on an extensive family beef operation that encompassed 500 pure bred cows and 2,500 commercial cows. Adaptable and open minded in their approach to ranching, John and Kelsey originally purchased their first North Country Cheviot sheep to train stock dogs, but they soon recognized the opportunity in having a diversity of livestock and a high welfare, pasture-based management approach.
Inspired by pioneering spirit and the rich heritage of the land where they have raised their cattle, sheep, and families for over three generations, the Beasleys started a new operation, called Integrity Ranching. They applied for AWA Grassfed certification for their flock of North Country Cheviot sheep so they could supply nearby TK Ranch of Hanna, AB, with quality grassfed lamb.
Integrity Ranching is situated in the East-Central Grasslands of Alberta, north of Bigstone on Blood Indian Creek. The ranch is set on native prairie and tame grassland. Stewardship of the land is an upmost priority for the Beasleys, who work to enhance the health and biodiversity of their grassland ecosystems. This is achieved by understanding fundamental principles of rangeland ecology, genetic selection, stockmanship, livestock behavior, nutrition, and ethical business practices. “Innovative ranching involves integrating this knowledge into our daily management practices—optimizing production while maintaining a sustainable agricultural system,” says Kelsey. “We believe in ranching that is sustainable, profitable and enjoyable,” John adds, “deriving our income from solar energy collected by the plants on our rangelands, which then convert that energy into a nutritious, safe food source for people, livestock and wildlife.”
Stewardship of the land sets the foundation for successful management of their flock of North Country Cheviots. “Good flocks start from the ground up, so to speak,” says Kelsey. North Country Cheviots are an independent, vigorous and hardy sheep breed that is well adapted to harsh climates and extensive rangelands. Used for centuries in England and Scotland, the ewes show superior mothering instincts. As the lambing of John and Kelsey’s flock starts in early May under range conditions, their first priority is lambing ease from strong, maternal ewes that raise multiple, vigorous lambs. Their goal is to select and produce a flock that thrives on low input, forage-based systems, and retains strong maternal genetics. These are continuing themes derived from the years they dedicated to the family cattle operation. Combined with superior carcass quality and yield, John and Kelsey’s AWA Grassfed sheep are not only well suited to their environment, but also produce a high quality product for their customers. In the end, it all ties together for the Beasleys: “We’re ranching in a way that effectively turns forage into a marketable product and generates cash flow,” says John. “We aim to reduce off farm inputs, environmental hazards, and reliance on non-renewable resources.”
Ultimately, the future of Integrity Ranching is about striking a balance. “We continually strive to keep ranching in a profitable and ethical manner, optimizing production while maintaining an ecological balance among the prairie communities of Bigstone and Youngstown, Alberta,” says Kelsey. Together, John and Kelsey hope AWA Grassfed certification will help them to receive a market premium for their lambs, access resources to help their ranch achieve production goals, and improve the industry by raising consumer awareness. They hope to keep the ranch in a position such that their children—Hannah, Jasper, and Clara—have the opportunity to take over the ranch someday. “There are very few careers you can get up every morning and have breakfast with your kids—and a lot of times take them with you for the day and they’re having as good of a time as you are,” says John. “We have a wonderful life,” adds Kelsey. “Our quality of life is amazing and I love what we do.”
Integrity Ranching’s AWA Grassfed lamb is available through TK Ranch’s online store, as well as from several retail outlets across Alberta. TK Ranch also delivers pre-purchased orders to the Calgary and Edmonton areas. For more information about Integrity Ranch, visit their website at www.integrityranching.com or Facebook page.