Family owned since 1918, our hosts are Norman and Juanell Nick. They are the sixth generation of the best beef cattle producers in San Luis Obispo and other parts of America. Nick Ranch beef boasts no confinement, no grain, no antibiotics, no steroids, no added hormones, making the beef leaner, lower calorie, lower fat, higher in Omega 3, vitamins A, E and CLA (whatever that is).
Norman Nick, a self described cowboy turned rancher turned chemist, dropped us in the Polaris Ranger equipped with rhino safari doors to the see cattle. On the way he gave us his famous line about the trajectory of meat production: “I always wanted to be a cowboy. I became a rancher. Now I am a chemist focusing on soil super food and rotational grazing.”
Apparently, there are real advantages to rotational over continuous (mob) grazing. Such as faster pasture regrowth, less impact on top soil, less insect bites to animals, less infections, and less need for antibiotics. Rotational grazing involves fencing pasture into smaller areas. Sub-dividing balances cattle needs with forage supply. Under rotational grazing, cattle graze in sequence and are moved to a new area once the forage is ready. This system allows plants a more vegetative stage with better forage quality. Rotational grazing allows higher stocking rates which increase animal gain per acre (1). The alternative, and more common method, is mob grazing, defined as putting animals out and leaving them in same pasture year-round which leads to overgrazing which affects fertility, infection fates, erosion, weed control. I’m not exactly sure what all that meas, but da beef taste good.
Norman’s favorite cut is New York. Uncle Bob took one home and agrees with the Rancher. Grass fed beef cooks faster (up to 30%). There is less fat so it melts at lower temperature. Don’t over cook! Our Meat Chef loves grass fed beef but likes the marbling that comes from last month grain feed. Norman says that takes away the nutritional value. And Uncle Bob says da beef taste good.
For early adopters, health obsessed carnivores, and those concerned about sustainability – you will find a home at Nick Ranch. The protein yield per acre from cattle vs. soy is twenty times in favor of soylent green. To keep beef on the menu in an over populated future nirvana, changes are coming. Nick Ranch’s model is part of that future. Uncle Bob gives the grass fed beef a thumbs up but bring your wallet. At 4x Costco, 2x prime, you pay to play. Grass fed does make a difference. So stick with prime, marbles, and faster departure from the planet. The choice is yours. Research is worthwhile. You will not regret it.
Nick Ranch Gourmet Beef
13580 Avenales Ranch Road
Santa Margarita, California
Ranch office: 805.438.4875
More information on sustainable farming and foods:
(1) Rocky Lemus, June: Developing A Grazing System – MSUcares, July 2, 2011. Paraphrased grazing technique descriptions.