Explore Local Regional Producer Profiles: Trail's End Beef

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Rachel and Tyler Herbert run Trail’s End Beef outside of Nanton, Alberta. They raise grass fed, grass finished beef on pastures in the foothills that stretch back through multiple generations of ranchers. They understand and respect the huge responsibility they have to care for their animals, be good stewards of the land and be open and accessible to their customers. They love being able to do what they think is best and what is right for their animals, for the land, for their family’s nutrition and then share that with other families.

Trail’s End Beef is a limited product. Customers pre-order early in the year to fill their freezers in the summer months. Last year ordering began in March and bulk beef was sold out by July. Tyler and Rachel only process their beef between July and October when the grass fed animals are finished on prime pasture grass. They sell their products by the whole, half and quarter animal. Select cuts are seasonally available and sold online or at the ranch during events like Open Farm Days. The best way to get more information about Trail’s End Beef products is to check out their website or follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

How they began Trail’s End Beef:

Rachel’s great grandfather, Fred Ings left his shipbuilding occupation in Prince Edward Island to come west to Alberta in 1881 and began OH Ranch with his brother. While OH is now owned and run by the Calgary Stampede, ranching runs deep in Rachel’s family line. In 1903, Fred sold his shares of OH ranch to his brother, bought a new ranch in the Nanton area and raised his family there. The land that Tyler and Rachel now manage is a small portion of Fred’s original Nanton ranch.

In 2003 Rachel’s mom, Linda Loree, inherited part of her family ranch. Around the same time, Rachel met Tyler, a working cowboy in the area. Tyler and Rachel knew they wanted to make a life on the land together and so they joined forces with Linda to create Trail’s End Beef. Though Rachel and Linda were both long term vegetarians, they found that the process of raising grassfed beef reconciled their environmental and animal welfare ethics. It was a perfect fit for them to raise beef and be intimately involved in every step of the process from calving all the way to putting meat in the freezers of their customers. This allows them to control every aspect of their operation including how the land and animals are cared for. Though Linda passed away in 2014, Rachel and Tyler are carrying on the business they all established together.

How They Raise their Beef:

It takes 26 - 29 months to finish a grass fed animal which is about a year longer than conventional beef. In order to provide the best care for their herd and sustain the land, Trail’s End operates on a few different pastures. While this means that there is some transportation of the herd involved, it’s important to Tyler and Rachel that the animals are always treated in a way that is as low stress as possible. They gather with horses and the help of their cattle dog, Tuff. The cattle are always free range, even in the winter when they do bale grazing and provide supplemented hay daily in the pastures.

Their Connection with their Customers:

In the ten plus years they’ve been selling their grass fed beef, Rachel and Tyler have noticed a huge shift in the market. When they began, they found themselves explaining a lot about grass fed beef and now they find that people already know about the health and environmental benefits and are actively seeking out producers like Trail’s End Beef.

In their customer base they’re finding that there seems to be a generation that has been completely removed from agriculture and it’s this generation who now wants their children to know more about where their food comes from. They love working with and educating young families. While Trail’s End participates in various events during the season to engage with the community (ie. Open Farm Days), they also have an open ranch policy all year round. They genuinely want their customers to be connected with their food source and feel like they are a part of the ranch they’re supporting. Ranching in the style Tyler and Rachel have chosen would be impossible without that close connection to and support from their community.

The future of Trail’s End Beef:

Tyler and Rachel would love to be able to continue to produce food for families while sustaining their own. Like many small producers, Tyler currently also has an off-farm job to subsidize their income. While the demand for their product is high, Tyler and Rachel would require more land to increase the size of their operation and still raise the animals in the way they like to. Unfortunately, land prices in their area are prohibitive and this limits their production capabilities. The huge input costs for their operation mean that the profit margins are slim. They already work hard to increase efficiencies in their process while at the same time maintaining the quality of care for their animals and the quality of their finished product.

“It’s an honour to be raising food for people who are appreciating it.” - Rachel Herbert
.Trail's End Beef
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For more information about the content of this document, contact Mimi Lee.
This document is maintained by Delores Serafin.
This information published to the web on January 27, 2017.
Last Reviewed/Revised on June 30, 2017.