Local cattle ranch provides direct-to-consumer beef to Summit County residents
When Jean and Dave Gottenborg fulfilled their lifetime dream of buying a cattle ranch in Jefferson in 2012, they were in their 50s and had recently retired. Obviously, this retirement was cut short when they dove into the cattle business on a ranch dating back to 1868.
“I grew up in 4H in Littleton, Colorado so I’ve always been involved with animals. My parents always had a dream of owning and operating a cattle ranch,” Erin Michalski, Jean and Dave’s daughter said. “My mom’s idea was it would be this sweet little gentleman’s ranch with some pretty horses and some cows in the pasture but my dad wanted a fully operated cattle ranch.”
Dave’s idea won out and now Eagle Rock Ranch’s beef is sold locally as well as nationwide. Michalski, who lives with her family part-time in Breckenridge and part time at the ranch, said she sells beef directly to many of her Summit County neighbors and the ranch’s beef is in the Frisco Whole Foods Market. The family also just closed on a new storefront in Fairplay where they will be selling fresh beef.
Michalski said the ranch prioritizes certifications that show customers how well they treat their cows. She said Eagle Rock Ranch raises 100% Black Angus cattle and beef that is hormone and antibiotic free, pasture raised and non-gmo. The ranch is also certified as a Global Animal Partnership level 4 ranch and is Beef Quality Assurance certified.
“We have the highest humane rating possible in the cattle industry. That just goes back to how we treat our animals and how we keep the conditions,” Michalski said.
Prioritizing these certifications and treating the cows well is how Michalski said she builds trust with customers who care about where their food comes from.
“Certainly for my generation and others there’s a big movement to know where your food comes from,” Michalski said. “The importance of certifications is that you really do know what you’re putting into your body and your families bodies.”
Michalski also pointed out that Eagle Rock Ranch raises grass-fed cows that are able to graze rather than eat corn, which is more nutritious and natural for the cows. The ranch also allows for on-site pick up so people can come visit the ranch before purchasing beef.
“I want people to know that there is an outlet for them to purchase locally raised, humanely treated beef,” Michalski said.
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