Paradise Valley Burger Company – A Burger Joint You Don’t Want to Miss

Paradise Valley Burger Company (PVBC), located in Paradise Valley, Arizona, sits in an unassuming strip mall across the street from Paradise Valley High School. This restaurant may be small in square footage, but it does not lack in big, unique flavors, bringing customers back to try the new weekly special or just to enjoy their usual menu favorite again and again.

Chef Bret Shapiro and a creative burger he cooked up.

Bret Shapiro, owner, and operator of PVBC, comes from a long line of culinary roots. His grandfather was a butcher in New York City and sold meat to the famous Katz’s Deli, a legendary deli in New York City, and his great grandfather was a baker. Not only is good food in his blood, but it is also a way of life. Growing up he fondly recalls his family driving an hour out of their way to get to the best Chinese restaurant, passing numerous acceptable ones along the way, but knowing the best food was worth it. His restaurant is one of those places for the modern customer. People drive from far and wide, and make sure to stop in on winter vacations. He is often asked about opening more restaurants, but his goal is to stay where he is and focus on quality.

Pictured is the classic burger called the Paradise Burger which includes 1/4 pound of beef, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, pickled onions, 1000 island dressing.

The restaurant comes from simple origins and a deal that didn’t quite pan out. Bret applied to an ad about 10 years ago on Craig’s List. The company was looking for a chef partner to come in and help out in a restaurant. About halfway through the deal, it fell apart. Instead of moving on and looking for something different, he decided to take it over and thought hamburgers were the way to go. While not the path Bret had imagined, it worked out and he’s still serving delicious burgers ten years later.

Paradise Valley Burger Company is known for having new, different, and sometimes wild flavor combos on their burgers. Initially, Bret stuck with the traditional burger set up but was looking for a way to bring people out to his side of town. The restaurant sits on a busy intersection, so it’s challenging to get people to stop and come in. He decided to get them to stop he had to put something on the menu that they couldn’t find anywhere else. The unique Brulee burger has always been a staple with its 1,000-island dressing, bacon, egg, Havarti cheese, pickled onion and burnt sugar bun, but he just kept coming up with new ideas and continues that to today.

This is the Brulee burger which includes 1/4 burger, bacon, egg, Havarti cheese, pickled onions, lettuce, 1000 island, all on a burnt sugar bun.

All items on the menu are freshly cooked ensuring quality both in the traditional combos and the more exciting ones. The beef is brought in every day and pressed into patties at the restaurant. Each burger, no matter the flavor combo, comes with a double patty, giving you a quarter pound burger. The individual patty is thin for a reason: it gives the maximum amount of char contributing to the flavor profile and allowing that to happen all the way through the burger. No detail is missed at Paradise Valley Burger Co. The brioche buns are sourced from a local bakery where they come in the traditional circle shape. Bret and his staff cut them into squares because this allows for a better bread-to-burger ratio, allowing for more even toasting on the flattop. Bret wants every bite to include all the ingredients on the burger and the square shape allows that to happen.

Not only are the burgers fun and innovative, but so are the sides. Sure, the menu includes the traditional French fries, but it also cooks up things like sweet Maui onion potato chips, French toast fries complete with a side of maple syrup, and even homemade ice cream like “The Canadian” which is vanilla ice cream, short bread cookies, and maple frosting. Every week, Bret puts on his creativity hat and comes up with a new burger, sides, and shakes. His goal is to keep the menu fresh. This gives the regulars the opportunity to come in over and over again and find something new, but he also keeps his classics for those who like the predictability.

This place isn’t just burgers! It’s also fun sides including these pictured which are French toast fries.

COVID affected PVBC like every other sector of foodservice, but Bret was fortunate to have a loyal following who wanted to see this valley classic stay afloat. His goal was to continue to serve quality food in whatever way he could. At the beginning of the pandemic when restaurants were closed, they offered pickup and delivery for a short time. As soon as dine-in services were allowed to resume, customers flocked back to the restaurant to load up on these tasty burgers.

Bret’s passion for his craft is evident and numerous TV producers have noticed. He and his restaurant has been featured on Man Versus Food, Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives, Guys Grocery Games, and Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives- America’s Favorites Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives- Takeout. Bret is an open, friendly person who obviously works hard and does a great job of connecting with the folks around him. After being featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives the first time there was a noticeable uptick in business. The locals who had found this burger joint organically kept coming, but now the people who saw it on TV and wanted to try out one of these delicious burgers for themselves were showing up. No matter how customers stumbled upon this delicious burger joint, they come back. Whether they are on the hunt for the fresh, classic cheeseburger, or coming back to try the newest creation by Chef Bret, this is not a restaurant you only visit once.

Take a visit to this delicious burger place and you won’t be disappointed!

If you know a great Arizona restaurant which features beef on their menu and think we should feature their establishment on the Arizona Beef blog shoot Tiffany an email at tnselchow@arizonabeef.org.

Beef and Dairy Farmers are Committed to the Environment

By: Clint Gladden, Saddle Mountain Dairy, Buckeye, Arizona

Sunrise on the dairy.

Continued concerns about climate change and the desire to protect our natural resources have people all over the globe looking for ways to be more environmentally friendly. These important conversations often lead back to food production – something that, as an Arizona dairy farmer raising crops, beef and milk, I am very passionate about.

My family and I are proud of the role we play in providing high-quality beef and milk in the most sustainable way possible. The U.S. is the leader in sustainable beef and milk production due to the dedication of the entire beef and dairy industries, especially those like my family, who have been farming and raising dairy cattle in Arizona since the late 1930’s.

Clint Gladden, William Thomas “W.T.” Gladden, Josh Gladden, and Sheri & Danny Gladden.

I am a fourth-generation farmer in Palo Verde, Arizona. In 1938, my great grandfather James Edward Gladden started a dairy farm with 12 Jersey cows in Chandler, Arizona. Over the years, we slowly moved west until we reached Palo Verde, where my wife Brooke and I currently farm and raise dairy with my parents (Danny and Sheri) and my brother and his wife (Josh and Heidi).

Up close inspection of the ration we feed our cattle.

Sustainable practices are the heartbeat of our farm. We recycle all water and utilize the manure from the cows as fertilizer on the crops that we raise to feed our cows. The alfalfa, corn, sorghum and wheat that we grow all go to the dairy for cattle feed. Additionally, cattle are fantastic upcyclers – meaning, their ruminant digestive systems turn things that humans can’t eat, like grass, other forages, and byproducts, into beef and milk for human consumption. Examples of byproducts that our dairy’s nutritionist formulates into our cows’ diets are cotton seeds (from the production of cotton), almond hulls, spent distillers grains (from breweries and ethanol production), and bakery and produce waste (that might be expired or too “ugly” from grocery stores) and would otherwise be sent to a landfill. By upcycling these materials we add nutritional and environmental value, while cutting down on waste and producing high-quality protein for humans. These are common practices by farmers and ranchers across the country, making the most of the resources available where they raise cattle.

The reality is that farmers and ranchers, like us, make their living from the land and we want to do everything in our power to protect the environment. Preserving natural resources is not only the right thing to do, but it also makes our farm better and allows us to continue farming, year-after-year, generation-after-generation.

Health check of the heifers.

Contrary to widespread confusion and due to misrepresentation of U.S. beef production with global numbers, you’ve likely heard that U.S. livestock’s contribution to climate change is immense. Americans must understand that this is not true. In fact, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), beef production in the U.S. is only responsible for 2% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Even when the production of animal feed, fuel and electricity necessary for beef production is factored into the equation, it is still responsible for just 3.7% of GHG in the United States.

Source: BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com

The same is true for the dairy community: we are always working to have an even lower footprint. Thanks to increasingly modern and innovative dairy farming practices, the environmental impact of producing a gallon of milk in 2017 shrunk significantly, requiring 30% less water, 21% less land and a 19% smaller carbon footprint than it did in 2007.

Source: USDairy.com

While caring for the environment and our natural resources, we are also producing high quality and nutritious beef and dairy products to feed a growing global population. Supplying 10 essential nutrients, including protein, zinc, iron and B vitamins, beef supports a healthy lifestyle with many delicious cuts, like Flank Steak, Flat Iron and Ground Beef, which are some of my favorites.

Likewise, the milk from our cows contains 13 essential nutrients including high-quality protein, calcium and vitamin D, that help build and repair muscle tissue, build and maintain strong bones and teeth, and help support a healthy immune system.

We love what we do and want future generations to have the same opportunities we have, therefore making our stewardship of the land and cattle a top priority. Every day we are working to improve our farm and dairy, in turn, benefiting us all. There is something so satisfying about seeing it all come full circle. From seeing newborn calves starting their journey, to a bare field turning into high quality cattle feed over a season, then the cattle enjoying that feed, ending with getting to see milk tankers and cattle trucks leaving the farm headed for a grocery store near you with high quality nutritious and delicious beef and dairy products. It culminates for me when I get home from work to a delicious meal prepared by my wife Brooke loaded with Arizona beef and dairy.

We thank you for supporting Arizona beef and dairy farmers. We are committed to continuously improving the way we care for our land and cattle, to ensure a sustainable food supply.

Clint and Brooke Gladden, with Duke.

Beef and Chorizo Burger, Flavors of Arizona by Chiles and Smoke

What’s more Arizona than a cheeseburger topped with beef chorizo and grilled nopales? We can’t think of much. Brad, Phoenix-based master BBQ chef of Chiles and Smoke, is bringing us another delicious recipe and this time it’s to highlight National Beef Burger Day. Check out his blog here and be sure to bookmark or save this page for future use. Brad’s helpful step-by-step tutorial video is at the end of the recipe.

Brad Prose, of Chiles and Smoke, created a delicious recipe National Beef Burger Day.
Beef and Chorizo Burger
  • Author: Brad Prose
  •  Prep Time: 10
  •  Cook Time: 10
  •  Total Time: 20
  •  Yield: 2–3 1x
  •  Category: Beef
  •  Method: Griddle
  •  Cuisine: Burger

Description

Arizona inspires this beef and chorizo burger, topped with charred nopales, creamy muenster cheese, and refreshing cilantro crema.

Ingredients
Cilantro-Lime Crema
  • 1/2 cup Mexican crema
  • 1/8 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp fresh lime juice
  • salt to taste
Beef and Chorizo Burger
  • 2 cactus paddles (nopales) trimmed and washed
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 fresh chorizo
  • 2 beef burgers, 3-4oz each (80/20 preferred)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Mexican oregano
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 slices muenster cheese
  • 2 buns, brioche
Instructions
  1. Mix the ingredients together for the crema. Season and adjust. Keep in the fridge until needed.
  2. Preheat the heating surface to medium-high heat. If using a flat top or griddle, set up a 2-zone area with the second side at low.
  3. Lightly salt and sear the nopales for 3-4 minutes per side until lightly charred. Flip as needed. When cooked, remove from heat and slice into thin strips.
  4. Cook the chorizo. Stir frequently, making sure it crisps but doesn’t burn. Right before it’s finished, stir in the nopales to mix together. Remove from heat. If using a flat top or griddle, move to the cooler side.
  5. Toast the buns. We have that delicious chorizo fat for a reason.
  6. Mix the salt, pepper, oregano, and garlic powder together. Season one side of the beef burger and sear it on the griddle, face down. Season the top of the burger. Allow it to crisp up on the bottom, about 3-4 minutes. Flip when you have a nice crust and continue to cook until patty reaches 160°F as measured by a meat thermometer.
  7. Divide the chorizo and cactus into small piles to go onto the burger. Place a slice of the muenster cheese on each pile. The cheese will melt, holding everything together. Slide this pile on top of the burger and continue to cook until the preferred temperature.
  8. Build your buns with the crema, and then the burger and toppings.

Notes

Brad recommends using a lighter bun, such as brioche or white bread. The burger and toppings are heavier and rich so you want to make sure the bun isn’t as well.

Grilling season is here!

Living in Arizona gives us certain advantages over other states and one of the most important ones is the fact that grilling season lasts all year long! But that doesn’t mean there isn’t something extra special about gathering in the back yard on a warm summer evening as burgers, steaks, and hot dogs sizzle on the grill, the sounds of chatting and play drape across the grass, and a cold drink perspires in your hand. So even though we are blessed with the ability to fire up the grill year-round, let’s celebrate the official start of grilling season with some of our favorite beef burger recipes and cooking tips.

Burger Recipes

Check out the list below of our favorite beef burger recipes. Click on the title of each for the full recipe.

Image and recipe courtesy of BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com.

Classic Beef Cheeseburgers

Master this classic burger recipe and you’ll be the king (or queen) of the grill from here on out!

Image and recipe courtesy of BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com.

Caribbean Beef Burgers with Mango Salsa

Spicy, sweet and oh-so-simple. Ground Beef gets a peppery boost from jerk seasoning, and the freshly chopped mango salsa gives the dish a cool finish.

Image and recipe courtesy of BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com.

Deli Burgers

Six ingredients are all you need to prepare these delicious, delectable deli burgers.

Image and recipe courtesy of BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com.

Cheesehead Sliders

Because everyone loves a slider and it is made all the better with lots of cheese.

Cooking Tips

Image courtesy of BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com.

Grilling Basics

Because grilling season just isn’t grilling season without a grill, here is a link to all the grilling tips you could want and need. This will provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to ensure success with all of your guests’ taste buds.

Image courtesy of BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com.

Food Safety

We know you know how to keep things on the up and up, but it doesn’t hurt to review your beef food safety knowledge just to be sure.

For more recipes like these and information visit www.BeefItsWhatsforDinner.com and www.ArizonaBeef.org.

Celebrating Heart Month with Arizona Beef

February is Heart Month, both in terms of love and the actual thing beating in your chest. We celebrate all that is love on the 14th of this month with romantic dinners for two and give extra attention to keeping your ticker ticking all month long. We want you to have the best Heart Month ever, so we’ve compiled a list of nutritional resources on how to include beef in a heart-healthy diet along with ways to get your significant other’s heart racing with love, beef included, of course.

Beef as Part of a Heart-Healthy Lifestyle

Eating for a healthy heart and enjoying one of your favorite foods—these two things don’t have to be at odds with one another! Recent research shows that eating lean beef as part of a heart healthy dietary pattern can help maintain normal cholesterol levels.

In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers from Penn State University found that people who participated in the Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet (BOLD) Study, maintained healthy blood cholesterol levels while consuming a dietary pattern rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and beans, with lean beef as the primary protein source. The BOLD diets contained 4-5.4 oz (weights before cooking) of lean beef daily, while providing less than 7% of calories from saturated fat, consistent with current fat intake targets. The BOLD study is the latest addition to the body of evidence that supports including lean beef in a heart-healthy diet. In fact, over 20 studies of lean beef in healthy dietary patterns support a role for lean beef in a heart healthy diet and lifestyle. Learn more by clicking here.

Lean Beef – A Super Satisfying Balance of Taste and Nutrition

If you are looking to celebrate Heart Month with something a little more lean, you are in luck. Beef has that too! What does lean mean? A cut of cooked fresh meat is considered “lean” when it contains less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat and less than 95 mg of cholesterol per 100 grams (3½ oz) and per RACC (Reference Amount Customarily Consumed), which is 85 grams (3 oz). Per 100 grams: Less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat, and less than 95 mg of cholesterol. Odds are that you’re probably already cooking lean cuts at home or choosing one when dining out. Good for you! A telltale sign that a cut is lean is if the word “Round” or “Loin” is in the name—that’s quite a lot of cuts if you think about it!  In fact, thanks to enhancements in cattle breeding and feeding as well as improved trimming practices, more than 60 percent of whole muscle beef cuts found in the supermarket are considered lean when cooked with visible fat trimmed.1 Learn more about lean beef here.

The Nutrients You Need with a Taste You Love

When it comes to beef and your health, you can rest easy knowing that along with being delicious, beef contains important nutrients that your body needs. In just one 3 oz. cooked serving, you’re getting 10 essential nutrients, including about half your Daily Value for protein! Learn more about the nutrients in beef by clicking here.

Need Some Heart-Healthy Recipe Inspiration?

Enjoying lean beef in a heart-healthy lifestyle is easier than you think with these recipes featuring lean beef, fresh fruit and vegetables, and whole grains. These Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. recipes are all certified by the American Heart Association®. Click here for the recipe collection.

Fancy Night In: Filet Mignon with Mushroom Wine Sauce

And finally, because sometimes you just need a delicious meal to celebrate your Valentine on Valentine’s Day, Brooke from Brooke Appetit has the perfect solution. She created a delicious dinner for two for the Arizona Beef blog. She does a great job of giving you all the details so the shopping and preparation are easy to follow with a big payoff. Your mate will be extremely impressed with your culinary skills. Click here for the full recipe.

Tips and Tricks for an Easy Holiday with Beef

There are lot of tips and tricks out there so we wanted to compile them into one page for your ease. We know the holidays are stressful and we want to help take a little bit of pressure off. These tips will cover things from food safety and help with your Prime Rib Roast, to ideas for before and after the big holiday meal. We hope you have a very Merry Christmas and can’t wait to chat with you in a great New Year!

Prime Rib Roast Tips:

  • Check out our Simple and Easy Prime Rib Roast Recipe by clicking here.
  • When picking a Prime Rib Roast, I like to choose one with a large Ribeye Cap. That’s the highly-marbled part of the roast that “hugs” the eye of the Ribeye on the outside. It’s my favorite part because it tastes like “beef candy.” (tip from our executive director Lauren)
  • Bone-in vs boneless: Bone-in cuts of beef draw more flavor from the bones. Plus, the Prime Rib bones are DELICIOUS and your guests may fight over them. But if you have a boneless roast, that’s ok! It will save you one step when carving.
  • How many pounds of beef do you need? You could use plan on ½ pound per person (uncooked weight) as a guide.
  • Following proper food safety defrosting instructions is very important. If your roast is frozen, plan for plenty of time for the roast to defrost in the refrigerator (NOT at room temperature on your counter). Here are some food safety and defrosting tips.
  • “Stripping” fresh rosemary and thyme: Unless you want to pluck each leaf individually, easily and quickly strip the leaves off the stems by pinching the stem end with one hand and swipe down the length of the stem with your fingers on your other hand.
  • Allowing the Prime Rib to rest for 15-20 minutes is very important. Be patient to allow the juices to re-absorb into the meat ensuring a tender, juicy roast. Those few extra minutes provide a great opportunity to make an au jus from the reserved beef drippings and plate side dishes.
  • For more beef recipe inspiration and tips, visit Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner.’s Expert Tips for the Perfect Holiday RoastAll About the Prime Rib and Beef Up the Holidays.

Meal Ideas for Before and After Christmas Dinner:

  • Best Brunch Recipes: It might be the morning or the day after Christmas, but you and your family are still going to be hungry. This link takes you to a collection of easy-to-prepare brunch recipes that are a delicious way to keep everyone content.
  • Holiday Appetizers: Be warned – once you serve these bad boys you’ll be on appetizer duty for life. From handheld cocktail hour bites to low-key yet festive pre-dinner snacks, these are sure to please.

Creating the Atmosphere:

  • While you’re sitting down to enjoy your Prime Rib Roast on Christmas Day, have the Beef Drool Log playing in the background to set the ambiance.
  • This special beef dinner isn’t complete without a bold red wine pairing! A robust cabernet, like Louis M. Martini’s Sonoma County Cabernet, pairs perfectly with beef, and to make holiday shopping easy, Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. and Louis M. Martini partnered to offer a $15 rebate. Just buy two bottles of Louis M. Martini wine and a Prime Rib Roast and at your local grocery store in states where legal.
  • With smaller gatherings, leftovers are more likely. The beef experts have you covered there too with effortless recipes that showcase leftover Prime Rib. Try a Beef and Spinach Breakfast Sandwich or the Four-Seasons Beef and Brussels Sprout Chopped Salad to keep the celebration going and enjoy your leftovers the next day.
  • If putting a Prime Rib Roast at the center of the dinner table isn’t enough holiday cheer for you, be sure to check out the latest spin on the Beef Drool Log, “Twas The Night Before Beefmas,” which features a beefy Christmas Eve tale inspired by a true love of beef.

That is a lot of tips, but just in case we missed one or you need even more check out Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner. All these tips and more can be found here.

Beef Cooking Lesson: Stewing

The weather forecast is showing cooler temperatures across Arizona in the coming days so now is the perfect time to brush up on your stewing skills. There’s nothing better than a warm, hearty meal after a cold day. Can you say “comfort food?” On top of the good vibes stewing brings, it’s also a fairly simple skill to learn. This is a slow-cooking method, similar to braising, with the key difference being the beef is covered in liquid. Stewing is best done in a heavy stockpot or Dutch oven on the stovetop or in the oven, or in a slow-cooker. Check out the lesson below and be sure to visit Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner. for recipes and more cooking lessons.

CUT AND DREDGE

If you’re using pre-packaged (or cutting your own) chunks, make sure they’re not too small to prevent overcooking. Aim for cubes about the size of a golf ball. Many stew recipes call for dredging the beef in seasoned flour before browning.


BROWN THE BEEF

Heat a drizzle of oil in the pan over medium heat and brown the meat on all sides, and drain (unless your recipe says to leave the drippings). You may need to work in batches if using a smaller pan. If you’re using a slow cooker, transfer it over.


ALL TOGETHER NOW

Depending on your recipe, now’s the time to add seasonings, vegetables and liquid — such as beef broth, wine, beer, juice or even water. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cover with a tight-fitting lid.


SIMMER AND STEW

Follow your recipe for timing guidelines. Don’t lift the lid — unless your recipe calls for adding vegetables or other ingredients later on. You’ll know it’s done when the beef is fork-tender.



Need some recipe inspiration? Check these out to use your new stewing skills.

Simple Savory Beef Pot Roast

A delicious take on the family dinner classic. Cook a Blade Chuck Roast low and slow, then finish with a frozen veggie blend to save time without sacrificing flavor.




Horseradish-Braised Pot Roast with Barley and Kale

Simmered slowly in nippy horseradish, this Pot Roast recipe is a satisfying change to the typical Sunday supper with the addition of barley and kale.




Yankee Beef Pot Roast

Looking for a classic American recipe? Our cozy Yankee Pot Roast is sure to please in any weather.




Images and recipes courtesy of Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner.com.

Meet Your Ranchers: Emmett and Lori Sturgill

The setting sun over rugged, mountainous terrain, with a cowboy’s silhouette to finish the image is what many people visualize when they hear someone’s profession is a “rancher.” While that image may be true, ranching and raising beef is also a business. Just like running a grocery store, marketing firm, or other entities, successful ranchers follow the same rules. Raising beef involves a living animal and a lot of heart, but it is still a business.

Emmett and Lori Sturgill are ranchers who have built cattle raising businesses with the end goal of producing delicious, high-quality, and nutritious beef. Now, just because one of their goals is to make a profit, does not mean that they lack the passion for their work. They are lucky because this business is built on the work they love.

Emmett Sturgill, retired law enforcement, comes from a long line of ranchers. Photo by Hazel Lights Photography.

Emmett, retired law enforcement, comes from a long line of ranchers. His dad was a traditional cowboy and moved from cow camp to cow camp as the jobs came available. Lori, formally a successful real estate broker, comes from a farming background but animals were always a part of her life. Together, over the past 10 years, they have worked to build a successful ranching business. Purchasing the main ranch is a story about a good friend helping another good friend. That story ends many years later with Emmett purchasing the ranch from his good friends, the Neals, and their longtime friendship is just an added blessing. Emmett strongly believes he is where he is today because other people helped him get here.

Lori, who sights fellow Arizona rancher Chuck Backus and his educational cattle symposiums as a source of their success, helped turn their cattle business around. Emmett admits that before she came along, his ranch was what he called a “cowboy ranch” meaning he had a variety of breeds and the main goal was producing a calf each year from each cow. Lori came in, found a way to focus their efforts, and has helped to gradually shift the ranch to producing high-quality Angus beef for both the local, national and international markets.

Lori Sturgill, previously a successful real estate broker, and now turned cattle woman. Photo by Hazel Lights Photography.

Lori, having a previous career in real estate, knows business. She knows what is required to succeed and it means time, persistence, and paperwork. The Sturgills worked to mitigate risk by diversifying their cattle. They primarily raise Angus cows which are bred to registered bulls, mostly Red Angus, each year. The calves produced from this part of the ranch are considered “program cattle.” The Sturgill’s ranch and cattle are 3rd party verified through an audit process which ensures the cattle meet certain criteria to sell in various markets, are given certain vaccinations at specific times, are fed qualified feed at weaning, and weaned no less than 45 days. There are many other criteria that the Sturgills and their cattle meet to address the growing concerns of consumers today and be able to ship overseas to other countries. The cattle that are raised in this program enter the traditional beef lifecycle also referred to as the commercial market.

The Sturgills also keep a limited number of animals for use in their local community, providing natural beef to consumers. These animals are grass-fed and fill the demand of people looking to purchase directly from a rancher in and around Kingman, Arizona. There are many challenges with this business including limited processing facilities and the amount of time it takes to raise an animal to harvesting weight, but Lori finds this an integral part of the business, even now.

An example of what a Corriente looks like. Photo by Hazel Lights Photography.

Finally, they also raise Corriente (another breed of cattle) steers for the sport of team roping. These animals are typically smaller in size with horns making them ideal for roping. These steers follow the same vaccination and health protocols as the rest of the herd to ensure longevity and wellness. This has provided customers with a healthy animal who can preform longer and thus led to many repeat customers.

On their ranches, Lori and Emmett are adamant about excellent cattle care. Their animals are all vaccinated and follow health protocol which were developed in conjunction with their veterinarian and also through their learnings from seminars like Beef Quality Assurance and other educational events. They also practice low stress cattle handling. This is a way of working with the animal’s flight zone to move them where you need them to go causing less stress on both the human doing the work and the animal. The goal with both priorities is to keep stress to a minimum to allow the animal to grow to its full potential. Lori also invented a unique way to deal with pests. Dairies often have rollers that scratch the animals’ backs, so Lori bought some of those but has taken them up a notch – adding fly and pest repellent. Not only is there not a fly in sight, but it is also one more way to reduce stress. No all-day flicking of the tail for these girls and boys!

Lori is proudly a self-proclaimed environmentalist, as most ranchers are. Her focus is on the care of their livestock and on the wildlife that coinhabits the range lands their cattle graze. It is tough to care for livestock and the land and not be concerned about the environment in which they live. She is a firm believer in balance to ensure the longevity of a ranch. She has begun to start planting trees at all of the watering areas to help keep the water cool for both her cattle and wildlife. This also keeps the drinkers (water troughs) cleaner as red algae doesn’t have the sun it needs to flourish when shade is present. The ranch is also part of many conservation programs, including increasing the population of pronghorn antelopes and working towards a reseeding program in the valley pasture on the ranch to reintroduce native grasses. The ranch management plan also includes proper rotation of the pastures to maintain the forage conditions with regular monitoring from the University of Arizona.

Lori and one of her horses. Photo by Hazel Lights Photography.

Lori and Emmett are firm believers that cattle take care of you if you take care of the cattle. The love the Sturgills have for their cattle, the land, and the people who buy their beef is evident in many ways. As we wrapped up our visit by the horse pens, with Lori scratching on one of her favorite colts, another family pulled in for a visit. Community is important and both Lori and Emmett embrace and nourish the relationships they have with fellow ranchers and town people, alike.  Ultimately, this is a business, and a successful one at that, but it’s a business with heart.

This blog post is made possible by the generous support of the Arizona Cattle Industry Research and Education Foundation.

How Does the Dairy Community Fit in the Beef World?

If you have followed the Arizona Beef blog for a while, then you already know the commitment and care given to cattle raised in Arizona. Ranching families across the state work every day to ensure their cattle have fresh clean water, nutritious feed, and live in a low-stress environment. This attention to care ensures these animals produce delicious and nutritious beef for the families of these ranchers and for your family, too. Arizona dairies are no different. With most dairy farms owned by families, they are also committed to the care and comfort of their cattle. Not only do they focus on producing nutritious milk, but also on providing quality beef.

Wes Kerr, of Kerr Family Dairy, shares, “The two biggest products that we produce on our farm are milk and meat. We want those products to be high-quality, wholesome nutrition that feeds families. The goal for each and every one of my cows is to lead a long, healthy life on my farm. For each of my cows, my goal is for them to eventually become beef. It is an important part of our business that allows us to get value back from our animals helping us to stay a viable business.”

Arizona beef comes from ranches and dairies. Wes Kerr, of Kerr Family Dairy in Buckeye, Arizona, explains that the two biggest products that come from dairies are milk and meat. Arizona dairymen and women strive to ensure both of those products are wholesome and provide high-quality nutrition for families.

Another contribution from the dairy community to beef is the raising of the male calves, which are castrated and called steers that are raised to provide high-quality beef. The male calves are raised on a calf ranch and then at a feedyard (to learn more about these feedyards check out this blog and this one). At the feed yard, these animals are fed a mixed diet formulated by a cattle nutritionist, monitored for health with supervision from a cattle veterinarian, given access to fresh, clean water, and are able to move around freely in their pens. When harvested, the cattle provide high-quality , steaks, roasts, ground beef.

Together, beef ranchers and dairy farmers strive to provide all with nutritious and wholesome beef and dairy products. To learn more about the diary community visit Arizona Milk Producers.

Meet Your Ranchers: Anita Waite and Sherwood Koehn

Near Kingman, Arizona is the Cane Spring Ranch, owned by ranchers and everyday environmentalists Anita Waite and Sherwood Koehn. As with most ranchers, caring for the land on which Anita and Sherwood raise their cattle is of the utmost importance, and Anita’s passion for the land’s natural resources and wildlife was evident as we toured the vast mountains and valleys of this northern Arizona ranch.

Encompassing 70,000 acres, the ranch is comprised of private, state and federal pieces that make up the whole. In Arizona, and in much of the West, it is common that one ranch might include private (deeded) land and long-term leases of land owned by the different state and federal public land agencies. Anita believes that cooperation and working closely with the various governmental agencies and others, including the Arizona Game and Fish Department, is the best way to manage their ranch. Connections and relationships help ensure the area is used correctly and is available for future generations to enjoy. 

The Cane Spring Ranch is one of great diversity in many ways including elevation, forage and grasses, and wildlife. Photo by Hazel Lights Photography.

The ranch is managed using a grazing pattern, which calls for cattle to be moved to one of four different pastures throughout the year. One pasture is always left empty to rest, much like when a person rests to feel rejuvenated and reinvigorated. The same goes for grasses and forages, allowing recharge and re-growth. This also allows for flexibility in having a “spare” pasture in case of drought or other cattle market issues. This resting pasture can hold their cattle for some time to get through until conditions level out.

The Cane Spring Ranch boasts diverse plant life throughout its varied elevations. Photo by Hazel Lights Photography.

Cattle have a preference for what they would like to eat. If they are given access to their favorite forage for an extended period, they will eat all of what they like the most and then move on to their next favorite. By rotating pastures and ensuring the pasture is not overgrazed, the ranch can guarantee the variety of forage remains the same or even increases. Various agencies and institutions have recognized Cane Spring Ranch for its wide range of grasses and forage due to the range management practices. The Arizona Botanical Society has made many visits to the ranch and has identified 28 different types of grass. Another factor in the variety of forage is the various elevations of the ranch, which goes from 3,000 to 7,000 feet. The mountain pasture holds an abundance of Pinion pines and the southern pastures at lower elevations have more seasonal forages.

The focus of this ranch in one photo: is on maintaining the land and raising high quality beef. Photo by Hazel Lights Photography.

Water development and improvement are a massive part of the success of this ranch. “If you build it, they will come” is a line from a famous baseball movie, and it also holds for water sources: where there is water, cattle and wildlife will go. Cane Spring Ranch had many wells drilled after Anita and Sherwood took ownership in 1993. Drilling wells at various locations around the ranch ensure cattle will travel to many areas to get water, which leads to their grazing patterns being varied. Cattle grazing in the same spot for an extended period of time is not good for the forage, so having water sources spaced out is beneficial for both the cattle and the land. Water sources are spaced out every two to three miles across the entirety of the ranch. The decision for each water source’s location was collaboration between Anita, Sherwood, the Arizona State Land Department, Arizona Game and Fish, and the United States’ Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

A solar panel pumps water from the nearby well or storage tank and sends it to the drinker (water trough). Photo by Hazel Lights Photography.

Exceptionally diverse, wildlife is an integral component of the Cane Spring Ranch. Mountain lions, deer, javelina, bobcats, black bears, badgers, rabbits, ravens, red-tailed hawks, desert tortoises, and more flourish on the ranch. While the wildlife and cattle mostly pose a symbiotic relationship, there is a need to keep predator and prey populations in balance. Hunting is another component of the ranch management and licensed hunters have access to almost all 70,000 acres. Working with the hunters who enjoy the outdoor lifestyle allows for a mutually beneficial relationship.

Wildlife on the ranch is diverse and we were lucky to snap a photo of this desert tortoise. Photo by Hazel Lights Photography.

Not only do conservation efforts at the ranch find priority in Anita’s life, but she also expands her knowledge and works with fellow ranchers and agency personnel, serving as chairwoman of the Big Sandy Natural Resources Conservation District (NRCD). The NRCD’s were initially formed during the Dustbowl when there was a need to introduce new agricultural processes. Local groups were developed, such as the Big Sandy NRCD, with locally elected officials who would help disseminate information on how to manage ranches and farms in a better way and get funding to put in beneficial projects. A unique trait of the NRCD’s is their ability to do work across all types of land – BLM, state land, and private.

One of the Big Sandy NRCD’s current goals is to increase water augmentation in the surrounding area. Water augmentation means getting water underground to build up the water table, which can be accomplished by slowing the flow of water, giving it more time to seep into the ground, and allowing for less evaporation. If this is achieved, it could put more water in the Colorado River. This is a huge undertaking and involves many agencies, including, Mohave County, Arizona Game and Fish, US Fish and Wildlife, Arizona State Land Trust, the National Resource Conservation Services, and the University of Arizona. While this project will be extremely beneficial to more than just ranchers in this area, the more significant point of this story is what can be accomplished through collaboration and cooperation.

The cattle on this ranch have lots of options when it comes to what to eat! Variety of forages is a point of pride for Anita and Sherwood. Photo by Hazel Lights Photography.

Anita and the Cane Spring Ranch have been the recipients of many awards, acknowledging the conservation efforts, including the Arizona Conservation District Zone 3 – Conservation Rancher of the Year 2000, Arizona Conservation District Zone 5 – Conservation Rancher of the Year 2000, Bureau of Land Management – Recognition for Cane Spring Ranch Land Exchange 2001, Society of Range Management – Range Manager of the Year 2008, Society of Range Management Certificate of Excellence in Range Management in 2010, and Arizona Game and Fish Wildlife Habitat Steward of the Year 2013.

When asked why so much time and effort are put in, Anita answers, “We love the land. We bought the ranch because we fell in love with it and want to do the best possible. And that was always our goal from the day of buying it. We love the cattle, of course, but our focus has been on the land. It comes from our life experiences. You take care of the land, and the land will take care of you.”

This blog post is made possible by the generous support of the Arizona Cattle Industry Research and Education Foundation.