Our Regenerative Farm
Our farm is an eco-regenerative cattle ranch that proudly produces 100% grass-fed & grass finished beef and lamb for local consumers. We get out of the way and let nature heal itself, while producing a solution to sustainable food gaps in our state. We offer home delivery in all metro regions and most of the lower peninsula in Michigan.
McElroy Farms was established in 1989 as a conventional crop operation in Hillsdale, Michigan. Once we realized the impact that conventional farming was having on our soil, our family and our ecosystem, we made the transition to certified organic corn and soybeans. At a time when organic farming was not yet mainstream, we relied on networks of famers and experts to deepen our understanding. The method of organic, no-till crop farming stopped the immediate problem of poisoning our soil with harmful chemicals that killed off natural grasses and life, but we realized that it was doing little to restore and regenerate the ecosystem.
Throughout the last decade, as a partnership between Stephen McElroy and partner/neighbor Stephen VanDeusen, we have transitioned completely away from farming crops, and now focus solely on farming the soil. We started with a small herd of cattle that has grown naturally over time. While we have a variety of breeds in our herd, we have focused on breeding Murray Grey cattle. They are a breed out of the UK and New Zealand that is genetically optimal for grazing finishing on grass alone.
Our cattle and sheep are 100% grass-finished, meaning they are never fed grain of any kind. They graze about 600 acres of pasture across our farm, rotating daily in a mob grazing method. This method mimics the ancient buffalo migrations of the Great Plains. That ground was so fertile in part due to the fact that the buffalo herds would come through and eat and stomp their waste in to the ground for a short period of time before leaving. This allowed the ground to rest. Our rotation allows for a 21 to 30 day rest period between grazings. This method has many benefits to the soil and life below and above the ground. By stomping carbon back into the ground, the herd is capturing and optimizing elements that would have otherwise been lost in a conventional operation.
Aside from a happy, healthy herd, we can measure success in the amount resurgence of plant, insect, animal, fungal and microbial life that has visibly returned to our ecosystem. The ground is able to better retain moisture, reducing runoff into local streams. This allows our soil to sustain drought much longer than it previously could. During our transition to cattle grazing, we never planted seeds in our pastures. Instead, the cycle of rotationally eating and stomping waste on what little plants we had activated seeds that had been dormant for hundreds of years beneath the ground. Each of our fields have a different diverse plant life, and by rotating our herd, and by baling hay to unroll for them in the winter, these seeds spread and grow more diverse every year.
Give our beef & lamb a try! We offer home delivery around Michigan (free in Hillsdale County) and are in-person at the Hillsdale Farmers Market on Saturdays. Check out our store!