Nikolaus Horster first gained experience farming 15 years ago, milking goats and Jersey cows to make cheese and other dairy products for a dairy CSA. Today, Nikolaus raises Animal Welfare Approved beef cattle on his own 40-acre farm at Shire Beef in Vershire, Vermont.
Shire Beef sits on a high hilltop in central Vermont, with views of the Presidential Range and the Connecticut River Valley. The farm comprises fenced pasture and woodland, with some steep terrain. The cattle also graze 75 acres of leased land which Nikolaus manages. This leased land, along with his own, originally composed part of a 1,000 acre turn of the century farm, which Nikolaus hopes one day to reunite.
The herd at Shire Beef consists of around 30 head of cattle, including Hereford, Simmental, red Angus, Pinzgauer and various crosses. Nikolaus operates a rotational grazing system for his cattle and often practices mob-grazing, where the cattle are stocked densely in one paddock and allowed to graze the grass right down, before being moved on to new pasture and fresh grass every one to three days, depending on the season and location. This practice ensures the cattle always have access to the most nutritious grasses possible—and gives the pastures plenty of time to recover before the cattle return. The cattle graze the pasture until late November, when they are move into a spacious barn for the winter months and fed round bales of hay until springtime.
Nikolaus was encouraged to apply for AWA certification after purchasing a few cattle for their herd from a nearby AWA farmer. “After some research into other certification options, we decided to move forward and apply for certification with Animal Welfare Approved,” Nikolaus explains. “The management mandates of the AWA’s standards aligned very well with our current practices, and we hope to gain a marketing advantage by using the AWA label.”
Shire Beef currently sell AWA-certified beef by appointment only. Customers can buy beef in volume at discount prices and store the meat at the farm’s on-site freezer facilities. For more information about Shire Beef visit www.shirebeef.com. To make an appointment to purchase beef contact Nikolaus at firstname.lastname@example.org or (802) 685-3334. For farm updates and photos, visit Shire Beef on Facebook.