Business: Teton Waters Ranch
Location: Denver, Colorado (originally Teton Valley, Idaho)
- Partner with various suppliers in the U.S. and internationally to produce value-added, grass-fed and pasture-raised beef products
Certification: Certified Humane®, a project of Humane Farm Animal Care (HFAC)
Teton Waters Ranch started out as an experiment in environmental conservation in Teton Valley, Idaho. An environmentally minded real estate investor purchased the 6,000-acre property hoping to reclaim its native grasslands. In the first year of ownership, native grasses were replanted and the farm was hayed for a small profit. In the second year, the owner engaged in some contract grazing while also grazing a few of his own cows on the land. The cattle grazed rotationally, fertilizing the land as they ate. Because consumer demand for grass-fed and grass-finished beef was just beginning to grow, Teton Waters Ranch found a niche market.
As Teton Waters Ranch scaled up production, it encountered issues with whole carcass utilization and decided to make value-added products with the remainder. At first, it began with ground beef and hot dogs, but soon realized consumers wanted additional value-added products. The company then pulled together a larger value-added program and quickly outgrew the ranch in Idaho. Teton Waters Ranch began to partner with grass-fed ranchers who shared its practices, and as part of the transition, relocated its offices to Denver, Colorado.
To meet demand, Teton Waters Ranch continues to work with partner ranchers and farmers both domestically and internationally to produce beef that is 100% grass-fed and grass-finished with no hormones or antibiotics. Teton Waters Ranch states that its mission is to deliver beef products that have been raised in a manner that is better for animals, the planet and the consumer.
When considering the different certifications available, Teton Waters Ranch decided on Certified Humane® because of the rigidity of the program’s standards, its commitment to animals and its familiarity to consumers. After making the decision in 2017, the company transitioned its full line and rolled out its new products featuring the Certified Humane® logo in 2018.
Because Teton Waters Ranch partners with thousands of producers, its move to Certified Humane® essentially meant that the company had to rebuild its entire supply chain over the course of a year. However, many of the partner farmers stayed on and became certified to continue supplying to the company. Teton Waters Ranch assumes the audit costs and provides technical assistance to encourage farm partners—especially those that might be resistant—to get certified. Additionally, a Teton Waters Ranch representative is on-site for every partner audit to act as a liaison between the Certified Humane® auditors and the farmers. The company also provides assistance to its farm partners when an audit discovers issues that require corrective measures.
HFAC Certification Outcomes
Environmental Benefits. Teton Waters Ranch was founded with the purpose of environmental conservation and restoring native grasslands. By requiring that partner farms raise grass-fed and finished cattle, Teton Waters Ranch hopes to spread these benefits beyond its original 6,000 acres.
Benefits to Animals. Teton Waters Ranch is committed to ensuring cattle are treated humanely. Certified Humane® enables Teton Waters Ranch to ensure that humane standards, such as attention during weaning and pain relief at castration or dehorning, are applied across a larger set of farms.
Audit Efficiency. Teton Waters Ranch markets its products with a number of different claims that pertain to how cattle are raised and handled. While the Certified Humane® third-party certification does not address all of these, the audit process helps to confirm some of the company’s internal protocols and market claims. As a result, farm partners can undergo a single audit, which they believe suggests the Certified Humane® audit was thoughtfully designed with producers’ needs in mind.
Why Certify with HFAC?
Teton Waters Ranch became Certified Humane® in a continuing effort to define and improve its program’s standards, as well as to fulfill its mission of raising cattle in a manner that regenerates the land, makes full use of the animal, and encourages better practices across a broad range of farm partners.