Arizona is a beautiful place, but spring happens to be one of the prettiest. This is the time of year when the desert comes alive. Flowers bloom, the grasses make a feeble attempt to grow, random rain storms erupt, and calves are born. Enjoy this collection of photos from various locations across our state.
A special thank you to Dean Fish, Cassie Lyman, Tina Thompson, Arizona Ranch Reflections, and Dan Bell for letting us share the views you have on your ranches.
This piece was written by Janice Bryson, a great asset to the many organizations she is part of including the Arizona State Cowbelles. Janice’s family has a long history in ranching in Arizona and with their Irish lines, this seemed a perfect opportunity to feature the history of her heritage. Enjoy the history of a great Irish family who made their lives in Arizona along with a delicious Irish Beef Stew recipe to help your family celebrate the holiday!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! We Irish like to think everyone has little Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and while it was originally a quiet day of church and family in Ireland, I think the Americans decided to make it a much more rowdy celebration which has spread around the world!
My great-grandfather William Ryan, born in County Tipperary, Ireland, arrived in the Globe mining camp in January 1881. Several years later, he met my great-grandmother, Anna Mary Moloney, who come to Globe from County Limerick to work for her Uncle Denis Murphy.
Many Irish headed to the American West to strike it rich drawn by the reports of silver, gold and copper strikes. A number of military forts were established to protect the miners from hostilities around the newly established mines and settlements. This was a great age in Arizona Territory for an entrepreneur; who was going to feed and supply all the miners and soldiers arriving daily? Many pioneer ranchers and farmers stepped up to help fill the needed food supply.
Most cattlemen in Arizona Territory followed the Texas system of ranching – cattle were left to graze on the free range to take care of themselves without supplementary feeding. Denis Murphy branded the Wine Glass and ran his cattle northeast of Globe. He also ran a butcher shop in conjunction with his ranch and even offered home delivery service. The butcher shops would slaughter their cattle outside of town, doing the work at night. The meat would be cooled in the evening, brought into town before daylight and hung in homemade iceboxes. The shops would usually be sold out by noon and remained closed until the next morning.
We do have one story about Denis that has been passed down in family history. He didn’t like his cowboys to ride the best horses into town on a Saturday night and tie them to the hitching posts outside of the Globe saloons. He preferred the old horses to be stolen if there was a horse thief in town.
William Ryan became the night foreman at the Old Dominion Smelter and bought and sold cattle as a sideline. He was also a livestock inspector and with his brother-in-law, John Moloney, established the first real dairy in Globe using range cattle. I imagine they were a far cry from the current fine dairy cows we see today.
In later years, William and his sons leased rangeland on the Apache Reservation in the White Mountains for their cattle. His oldest son, William Albert, was my grandfather who with his bride Edith settled in an isolated cabin on the Reservation in 1912. The Apache men had not seen many caucasian women and would watch her through the window when Will was out riding. She would offer them lunch which they gladly accepted; eventually, the novelty wore off and they no longer watched her.
While we still have isolated ranches, think of the days of no roads and riding horseback to the ranch house. Will and Edith’s oldest son, William Paul, was born in White River and placed in an Apache papoose to be taken to the ranch. At the age of 2, he walked behind a man chopping wood and was hit in the head with the back of the ax. Will grabbed him and rode horseback many hours to the doctor in Fort Apache. Little William recovered but Edith was a very worried mother for four days before she knew if her son had survived his accident.
My father, Emmett Ryan, continued in the cattle business and in later years my family had cattle ranches at Florence Junction, Wenden and my favorite ranch, the Box Bar on the Verde River. Lots of fun memories of them all for my family.
Life was tough in Arizona Territory and we are thankful we have so many modern conveniences to make our life better today. Thank you to those pioneer cattlemen who persevered against all odds to provide food for the new Territory. After all – those hardy pioneers needed plenty of ZIP – zinc, iron and protein provided by beef – to do their jobs.
St. Patrick’s Day was not all work and no play back in the day – St. Patrick’s Day Balls were held in settlements with heavy Irish populations such as Globe, Jerome, Bisbee, and Tombstone. Globe even held a baseball game between the “town boys” and the Old Dominion Copper Company on St. Patrick’s Day in 1890. Before either side had gained a point, the only ball burst. It was stuffed with rags and the game continued with the town boys prevailing in the end. Wonder what the baseball players of today would think of that game?
An Old Irish Blessing:
May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
Irish Beef Stew from Fidel Murphy’s Irish Pub, Grand Cayman
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1/4 pounds stew beef, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 6 large garlic cloves, minced
- 8 cups beef stock or canned beef broth
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
- 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 7 cups)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 cups 1/2-inch pieces peeled carrots
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add beef and sauté until brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add beef stock, tomato paste, sugar, thyme, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves. Stir to combine. Bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, then cover and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, melt butter in another large pot over medium heat. Add potatoes, onion and carrots. Sauté vegetables until golden, about 20 minutes. Add vegetables to beef stew. Simmer uncovered until vegetables and beef are very tender, about 40 minutes. Discard bay leaves and serve topped with chopped fresh parsley.
The Menges Family and their ranches are in Graham and Greenlee Counties, where they run a cow-calf ranch. Please enjoy the interview below to learn more about this ranching family.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, your family and about your ranch:
Jeff is a 4th generation lifetime rancher. He graduated from NMSU with degrees in range management and animal science. He grew up in Catron County, NM, on a forest service ranch. We have three sons; Ben, Mark, and Luke. We have two ranches operating as one unit along Gila River and Bonita Creek areas.
How does the technology you use now differ from the technology that was passed down to you or that generations passed may have used on this ranch?
The use of ATV’s instead of horses on the ranch has made us a great deal more efficient than in generations past because we can check waters, cattle, fences, etc. much more quickly. Also, solar technologies are advancing rapidly and now are available to draw water from wells as deep as 800 feet. We use solar technology on many of our wells on both ranches, which is clean energy and a reliable resource for us in Arizona.
What are some common misconceptions that you think people may have about the way your raise your beef on your ranch?
Our ranch headquarters is relatively easy to access, and we welcome those who would like to learn more about ranching to visit the ranch. We engage with the local community a great deal by hosting ranch day experiences, meetings and workshops. One misconception is that grazing riparian areas is detrimental to the resource; however, we have proven that that is not the case, in fact, it is highly beneficial.
What is the most important thing that you do on your ranch every day to make sure you are raising safe beef for the consumer?
Providing the cattle with adequate nutrition and clean water to drink all year long are the most important things we can do as ranchers to keep our cattle healthy
What is the most important piece of information that you would want people to know about you and the work you do on you ranch every day?
We believe if we take good care of the land, it will take care of us and our cattle. We believe in careful stewardship of the natural resources, which in turn allows us to provide a safe and wholesome product for the consumer.
If you could describe in one word the life of a rancher, what would it be?
Lastly and of course most importantly, what is your favorite cut of beef and how do you like to prepare it?
Grilled rib-eye steak
Editor’s Note: Suzanne is an extremely progressive and active member of the Arizona State Cowbelles and the American National Cattlewomen (ANCW) as well as a founding member of her local chapter. The Cowbelle organization works to promote and educate about Arizona beef by interacting with consumers at various events such as the Ranch Day programs Suzanne has helped put on for many years. This program offers the opportunity for school-aged children to visit the ranch to experience and learn about all aspects of ranching in southeastern Arizona. Dr. Menges is currently developing a leadership training program for ANCW. She didn’t brag much about herself in these answers, so we wanted to do a little of it for her.
Ranchers: My dad, Ruben Garcia, and I, Samuel Ruben Garcia, ranch on the Rancho La Playa, Rancho El Fresno, and Rancho Santa Gertrudis. My uncle Ramiro Garcia ranches on the Rancho La Higuerita and my uncle Sergio Garcia is on the Rancho El Alamo Rancho El Henry. All of the ranches are in Sonora, Mexico about 40 miles south of Douglas, Arizona. My wife Christina and I, with our son RJ and daughter Celeste, live and work in Tucson, Arizona.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, your family and about your ranch and what you do now:
I grew up around cattle ranching and it has been a lifelong passion of mine. A majority of my time has been spent working with my family on various ranches. When I was growing up, ranching was a tough business, but I stayed true to what I enjoyed and pursued a career that kept me close to my passion. Growing up in Mexico was great, but there was a limit to the amount of education I could receive and my dad decided it was a good step for me to learn English and further my education in the United States.
At age 11, I moved out of my home and made a new home with Alfonso and Teresita Gonzales, who were working for the Dobson Cattle Company in Benson, Arizona. They took me in as if I was their son and added an abundant amount of knowledge about cattle and horses by doing the many chores expected of a ranch kid. After three years, I moved back to Douglas, Arizona where I finished high school.
After high school graduation, I attended two years at Cochise College and finally decided to transfer to the University of Arizona (UA) where I received a Bachelor in Veterinary Science in 2008. I then spent a year at the ranch with my dad to reenergize before venturing back to the UA to complete a Master’s in Animal Sciences in 2011 and a Ph.D. in 2013. After graduation, I took a job as a Lecturer in the School of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences. In 2014, I started as the manager of the Food Products and Safety Lab, which includes an animal harvesting facility, where I am now. I still continue to ranch with my father.
My grandfather was an accountant-turned-businessman-turned-rancher. He was a cattle buyer for many years and was able to purchase most of the ranches owned now by my family.
The ranches are desert ranches. Many improvements have been done to make them successful. Infrastructure that includes water distribution and storage, cattle working facilities and fencing have been our focus.
How did your ranching background get you to where you are today?
From ranching, I learned hard work and dedication, which have been most relevant to my career. You should never give up on your goals but remain flexible in how you accomplish them.
What are some common misconceptions that you think people may have about the way your raise your beef on your ranch and what happens in a harvesting facility?
One important thing to note is that most citizens in Mexico are still one generation away from the farm and ranch, so they know the reality of how food is raised. I’ve noticed people in the US, who are, on average, three generations away from a farm or ranch, are removed from how food is grown and raised.
There is also a misconception about the quality of Mexican cattle. The reality is that cattle raised in Mexico can be quite competitive with cattle raised in the US and are held to high standards while experiencing many health checks before entering the US market.
As to the Food Product and Safety Lab which houses the UA’s harvesting facility, we strive to be transparent in all we do. We serve as an educational facility for both students and Arizona ranchers while also providing meat for the community and harvesting services to Arizona farmers and ranchers.
What is the most important thing that you do on your ranch and in the harvesting facility every day to make sure you are raising and preparing safe beef for consumers?
At the University of Arizona Food Product and Safety Lab, we ensure that all strict USDA regulations are followed. Protocols are in place to ensure the meat produced is safe and wholesome for my family and the consumer’s family to eat!
At the ranch, we make sure health and nutrition of the animals are the number one priority. With healthy animals, everything else falls into place.
What is the most important piece of information that you want people to know about you and the work you do on you ranch and in the harvesting plant every day?
I want to emphasize that the meat produced in the US is the safest in the world. Also, Sonoran ranchers who export cattle into the US are contributing to this wholesome food supply.
If you could describe in one word the life of a rancher, what would it be?
Lastly, and of course most importantly, what is your favorite cut of beef and how do you like to prepare it?
Aged Ribeye grilled on mesquite with sea salt/coarse salt. Medium Rare.
Valentine’s Day and Heart Month make such a cute couple, don’t you think? New evidence shows lean beef and heart healthy diets go pretty well together, too. In a new study published in the January 2017 issue of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Wayne Campbell, PhD, professor of nutrition science at Purdue University, and his research team conducted a review and analysis of 24 clinical trials on daily red meat intake and cardiovascular disease risk factors. Many doctors recommend that patients limit red meat intake to less than 3 servings a week, but this new study shows that eating greater than 3.5 servings per week does not negatively affect short-term cardiovascular risk factors, such as blood pressure and blood cholesterol. These findings can help put to rest some of the outdated notions against red meat consumption.
Putting all this great info into action takes delicious recipes. For the past six years, the American Heart Association has approved eight whole muscle cuts of beef and extra-lean ground beef for use in their Heart-Check mark program. We are excited to announce beef’s involvement in a new recipe certification program by the American Heart Association that we hope will inspire you to incorporate beef into heart healthy meals. Here are some examples of approved recipes that feature beef cuts that also meet criteria for “extra lean:”
Beef and wine have an undeniable affinity for one another. The profound, meaty, complex, rich flavor of beef is complemented by a beverage that’s equally complex, savory and delicious. Nothing fits the bill better than wine. There’s also the all-important issue of texture. Mouth filling concentrated wines provide just the right counterbalance to beef’s dense texture. Like the perfect gastronomic seesaw, a sip of wine makes you want another bite of beef, and a bite of beef makes you want a sip of wine.
There are wine and beef pairings for every taste and preference. From a full red which pairs perfectly with prime rib to a sweet white which combines with stir-fry or Thai inspired dishes, you can find a combination to fit even the most discerning palate. Below is a list of our favorite recipes which require wine, be that in a glass at the dinner table or as an ingredient, with a few sips stolen while you cook it up.
Perfect Pot Roast by The Pioneer Woman
The cooking guru herself admits on this recipe that the perfect pot roast is hard to come by. This method gives you the secrets to preparing this mythical dish correctly every time.
The Best Meat Rub and Beef Tenderloin Recipe: The “Braxton” by Fantabulosity
An extra special night deserves an extra special cut of beef, and the tenderloin is that cut. Jessica at Fantabulosity has got you covered with the perfect way to prepare this yummy cut, and a glass of full red wine is the cherry on top.
Braised Short Ribs by Anne Burrell
Because these are always a huge hit and you need a recipe to guide you down the right path.
Wine-Marinated Grilled Flank Steak by Beef It’s What’s for Dinner
What better combination is there. Some wine, a grill, and beef? None. There is no better trio. Be sure to serve it with a medium red wine.
In only 3 easy steps you have a stir-fry fit for an emperor. This meal pairs perfectly with a glass of sweet white wine.
For more information on beef and wine pairings visit our website for a complete guide. Good luck and as Julia Child always said, “I enjoy cooking with wine, sometimes I even put it in the food.” Happy cooking!
There are many ways one can buy great beef – from large warehouse clubs to a neighborhood grocery store, directly from a rancher or from a local butcher. We visited with Bret Pont of Hobe Meats in Phoenix to gain perspective about what it’s like to be a smaller butcher shop and meat market, and what services are offered to customers.
Arizona Beef Council: Hi Bret! How long have you been in the meat business?
Bret Pont: I’ve been in the meat business for about 30 years. I started in Oregon working for Swift and Mapelli Brothers in shipping and receiving then worked my way up to the meat cutting room which was a prestigious position. That’s where I got my “ears wet.” 25 years ago, I moved to Arizona and started working for a small butcher shop and found it intriguing and have stuck with it ever since. I love this business because I get to meet people one-on-one. We get to shake hands and get to know each other by name. I enjoy developing friendly customer relationships.
ABC: Where does the name “Hobe” come from?
BP: The Hobe brand originated with Dave Hobe when he started this business 1962. I acquired it 8 years ago. Dave ran it with his brothers until the late 1970s.
ABC: What is the most common question you receive about beef?
BP: We often receive questions about the beef quality grades and whether it is grass-finished or grain-finished. We are glad to answer our customer’s questions. We carry primarily Prime beef and upper two-thirds Choice graded beef. Most of our beef is wet-aged a minimum of 30 days to increase tenderness. Customers can have the same Prime beef experience at home as one would at a nice steakhouse.
ABC: Do the popular cuts vary year-round?
BP: Steaks for grilling are popular year-round. In Arizona, it doesn’t matter if it is December or July, we still sell Ribeyes, Tenderloins, New Yorks. They are popular all year long. We do see an increase in interested in roasts – Chuck Roasts, Pot Roasts, Short Ribs – in the winter when people want to make stews, roasts, and chilis.
ABC: Do you offer custom cut options to customers?
BP: We do offer custom options and that is one of the things that makes us unique. We have the ability to cut a 4-inch thick Porterhouse Steak or a half-inch thick New York Steak. Whatever size one wants, we can custom cut to the customer’s specifications with just a little bit of notice. We are proud to offer custom options. That service can’t be found everywhere.
ABC: What is the most unique meat you carry (in addition to beef)?
BP: We have several unique offerings that range from wild boar bacon to alligator. Kangaroo is surprisingly popular – it’s a dark meat like venison – and comes in loin steaks and as ground kangaroo meat. We also carry frog legs, pheasant, quail, elk, and bison. We have Arizona’s largest selection of wild game meat.
ABC: What unique perspective do you offer to your customers?
BP: I think we offer customer service. We get to know their names and help them decide which cut is best for their needs. We offer the expertise to explain the cuts of beef and different flavors. People have lots of questions and we offer the experience and knowledge of beef production and of cooking recommendations. We keep materials on hand from the Arizona Beef Council including cut chart handouts and recipe brochures that people can take home to learn more about beef.
ABC: What is your favorite beef cut to recommend?
BP: I like the Ribeye. Some people say it is too rich for them but it is my go-to steak. I like it seasoned with salt and pepper and a little butter on top.
ABC: What does your business bring to the beef community?
BP: From start to finish, we help customers select the cut they want, offer recipe suggestions that we’ve tried, that are in the handouts, and that have great reviews so that they can have a satisfactory beef-eating experience.
The Arizona National Livestock Show (ANLS) is an event rich in history with its first organizational meeting taking place in 1948. Throughout the years, ANLS has morphed into different things for different folks. Some people see it as a family vacation, as the time of year in which the show takes place offers a break from school and work. The Arizona weather, which is far better than in snow ridden parts of the world, is another perk. For others, this show is the culmination of a year of hard work and the grand drive is their ultimate goal. And for a few, it’s a first encounter with the idea of showing livestock such as cattle, sheep, hogs, and goats. For the students of four Arizona high schools, it’s the chance to break into a world which might not have been open to them previously.
Showing cattle at livestock shows is a huge commitment, both a significant investment of time and money. It’s a luxury not afforded to many. However, the students of Rio Rico, San Simon, Bowie, and Mesquite High School all get the opportunity to exhibit cattle at the Arizona National Livestock Show each year with the help of their instructors and the community. Each school runs their program a little differently, but all have the same end goal: to involve students in agriculture who might otherwise not have had the chance.
Mike Zamudio at San Simon High School in San Simon, Arizona and his wife Kelly Lyda-Zamudio at Bowie High School work in close collaboration with the Southwest Brangus Breeders Association. Ranching members of this group lend their cattle, specifically heifers (female bovine who have not yet given birth to a calf), to the agriculture students at these schools. These students work with their heifers, teaching them to halter, how to be led on a halter, and how to stand the correct way for showing. This program, which was started nine years ago after Bill Morrison approached the Zamudios asking about their interest in the idea, offers scholarships and lifelong learning. One of the most important lessons Mr. Zamudio has seen his students learn through this program is confidence. He describes it best by saying, “There is a huge boost in their confidence levels. You can see the look on their face when the heifer takes those first couple steps and starts to follow and will let them catch them right away. You can see the bond between the heifer and the kid.”
Rio Rico High School in Rio Rico, Arizona is another great example of an agriculture education program working with their community. Mr. Richard McPherson, the agriculture education teacher at Rio Rico High School, has partnered with Doug Kuhn, a rancher from Willcox, with many projects. Allowing students to show cattle at ANLS is one of them. This program focuses on introducing students to the idea of showing cattle allowing them to determine if this an interest for the future. Mr. McPherson mentioned this was an excellent way to show the students the hard work and long hours it takes to show cattle and gives them an idea if it’s something they want to do on their own.
Students from Mesquite High School out of Gilbert, Arizona work hand in hand with the University of Arizona’s V-V Ranch, a working cattle ranch based out of Rimrock, Arizona. Throughout the year, students work closely with ranch managers to gain experience with branding, vaccination, and other working areas. During the late fall months, these students then begin preparations at their high school land lab to halter break, train, and eventually show feeder steers (male bovine who have been castrated) and heifers at the ANLS. This program started because of Jordan Selchow’s involvement with the V-V Ranch during college at the University of Arizona and the relationships he built while studying there with Dr. Dave Schafer and the Cannon family. Like the other three programs, this is an excellent way to give students the chance to show if they can’t do so on their own.
While each of these programs is unique, the overall goal and end results are the same: to give students a chance to experience the rewards of working hard and showing an animal at a major livestock show, while also instilling a strong sense of confidence and work ethic. When a student goes through an experience, such as training and showing a five-hundred-pound animal, something they’ve never done before and maybe even thought was impossible, confidence abounds in and out of the show ring. The lessons they learn from the extra hours of hard work along with the leadership skills they use when mentoring first-time students produce a young person who is more likely to continue forward on a successful path and might consider diving into the agriculture world. If this is a world they find interesting, these programs provide tools to build relationships and connections within this community and guide them on a path to future success.
We’ve learned that, due to cattle’s unique ruminant digestive system, they can eat a variety of feeds that humans cannot, converting them into high-quality beef and milk.
To learn about the variety of feed ingredients available in Arizona, we first visited a dairy, then a ranch, and now we explore the diet at an Arizona cattle feed yards.
Wyatt Scott, of Pinal Feeding Co., showed us the ingredients in their cattle feed.
Pinal Feeding Co. in Maricopa is located next to Pinal Energy, an ethanol production facility, and the two have found a mutually beneficial relationship. One of the by-products from producing ethanol, a renewable fuel, is distillers grains.
Wet distillers grains (there are also dry distillers grains) are mixed into the feed ration and provide fiber, energy and protein to the diet. The wet distillers grains also provide moisture. The consistency is that of thick oatmeal and has the sweet, earthy smell of a brewery.
“We also incorporate used vegetable oil from Phoenix-area restaurants,” Wyatt added, “which adds fat that cattle convert to energy.”
Most of the cattle feed is made up of roughages – alfalfa, corn stalks, bermuda and sometimes sudan grass – that are imperative for the ruminant digestive system. Added to the mix are steam-flaked corn, wet distillers grains, used vegetable oil, vitamins and minerals.
Similar to human dietitians with whom we consult for healthy and balanced meal plans, Arizona’s feed yards all consult with beef cattle nutritionists who formulate a nutritious, balanced feed ration. Wyatt explained, “We also test our feed weekly, analyzing the nutritional profile to ensure we are producing quality feed the cattle want to eat. It behooves us to constantly review our process as it directly correlates to the performance and health of the cattle.”
Aren’t cattle fascinating? The seemingly odd choices of cattle feed from distillers grains to bakery meal actually has many benefits. Not only are cattle able to process sugar into energy extremely efficiently because of their digestive system, but it also keeps by-products like distillers grains and used vegetable oil – that would otherwise be thrown into a landfill – from being wasted.
“I truly enjoy the idea of constantly looking for ways to improve how we care for cattle and they are the most transparent with the results. They may not be able to communicate like we do, but it is really simple to see how they are responding to a change. They are a visible 3 dimensional reflection of the work you put in,” shared Wyatt.
These ruminant animals can digest forages humans cannot consume and turn them into great-tasting, nutrient-rich beef loaded with zinc, iron, protein and B vitamins.
Landfills are the number one source of man-made methane emissions (according to the EPA). Isn’t it great that we can mitigate some of that?
Ultimately, there are many ways to raise and feed cattle. We’ll continue to share interesting stories from the beef community in Arizona.
Thank you for ruminating with us.
What do beef and beer have in common?
They are a delicious pairing, of course.
However, they are even better friends than that. Cattle can eat the leftovers from the beer making process and they find it delicious and no, they don’t get drunk.
“Spent grains,” the by-products from the production of beer, are what is left over after the mash is cooked and the “wort” (liquid) is extracted. The sugars go with the wort and there isn’t any alcohol in the spent grains because fermentation process has not yet taken place.
What does a brewery do with spent grains?
We visited with Jacob and Laura Hansen of Saddle Mountain Brewing Company to find out.
“We do dry and reuse some of the grains in our restaurant in baked goods such as crackers, pie crusts, cookies and bread. My favorite was an oatmeal and spent grain molasses cookie for ice cream sandwiches.”
These sound delicious. But, when one brews a lot of beer, there are a lot of leftover spent grains so another viable outlet is to feed them to livestock.
The brewery has a partnership with local West Valley cattleman Patrick Bray. Patrick and business partner, Bass Aja, along with their wives (Lisette and Anna, respectively) and their families raise cattle in Rainbow Valley, Arizona, about 40 minutes southwest of the brewery in Goodyear.
The Hansens are thankful for this mutually beneficial relationship because the excess spent grains would otherwise have to be disposed of into the trash. “Instead, we love that there is an environmentally friendly use for the grains so that they aren’t a trash product,” added Laura.
Every time beer is brewed, spent grains are created. Patrick picks up four to six 35- gallon buckets of the spent grains the same day, which is once or twice a week, and is then able to feed the grain to the cattle.
“Having access to the spent grains gives us an alternative feed source for the cattle,” said Bray. “It is nutritionally beneficial providing energy, protein and fiber. I’ve also observed that due to the spent grains, the cows are able to more efficiently convert all of their feed.” The grains are not the main source of nutrition for the cattle but it does make for a nice supplement, helping to keep the cows in good body condition year-round.
An interesting thing has also happened – the cows come running when they see Bray’s white Ford truck coming down the road.
“They love it! It’s like candy to them,” Bray giggled. “It’s fun to see the cows dive into the feed troughs. Plus, it gives me an opportunity to check if the cows are healthy, to make sure they don’t have any problems.”
Sounds like Pavlov’s dog…uh, cow.
Bray added, “The spent grains are a healthy, usable by-product from the community and stay in the community, not going to waste.”
The Hansens also take some of the spent grains home to their chickens. Sometimes the grains even carry the scent of the flavor of the beer – coriander, orange peel, flaked corn for cream beer, or other seasonal flavorings. The spent grains can also be used for composting.
Saddle Mountain Brewing Company and the ranchers have collaborated since the brewery opened in October of 2014. All breweries, from craft-sized to Anheuser-Busch, produce the spent grain by-product and most also have beneficial relationships with ranchers or farmers.
Laura concluded, “It is sort of a full-circle food chain or another take on ‘farm to table’: from farm to grain to brewery to cattle ranch to fertilizer and back to growing more food, we all help each other.”