Animal Welfare Approved

Shire Beef – Vershire, VT

Nikolaus Horster first gained farming experience in the early 2000s, milking goats and Jersey cows to make cheese and other dairy products for a dairy CSA. Today, Nikolaus raises Certified AWA 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 40 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 AWA,” Nikolaus explains. “The management mandates of AWA’s standards aligned very well with our current practices, and we hope to gain a marketing advantage by using the AWA label.” In 2015, Shire Beef became the first farm in the state of Vermont to attain Certified Grassfed by AWA status for their beef cattle. This is the only certification and logo in the U.S. and Canada that guarantees food products come from animals fed a 100% grass and forage diet, raised outdoors on pasture or range for their entire lives, and managed according to the highest welfare and environmental standards on an independent family farm.

Customers can buy Certified Grassfed by AWA beef from Shire Beef in volume at discount prices and store the meat at the farm’s on-site freezer facilities. For more information, contact Nikolaus at or (802) 685-3334. For farm updates and photos, find Shire Beef on Facebook. Visit