History / Philosophy

The story began in 1882...

Our family’s love affair with land and livestock began in 1882, when Albert Hezekiah Lasater and his son Ed purchased a cattle ranch in south Texas. Ed's son Tom began a crossbreeding program that led to the development of one of two new breeds of cattle started in the United States. More than developing a breed, Tom Lasater's life work embodied a new ranching philosophy, one that embraced Nature as a partner rather than a force to be overcome. In 1948 the family moved the cattle herd to the shortgrass prairie of eastern Colorado.

Today, the Lasater property is managed by Tom's son Dale, a fourth-generation rancher. For more than half a century the property has been a wildlife sanctuary. Like the bison, our cattle coexist with coyotes, deer, prairie dogs, pronghorn antelope, rattlesnakes, and other wildlife. Believing that working with nature is the best policy, many years ago we implemented practices that helped restore the natural balance between animal species, domestic livestock, land and man.

Grazing animals are vital to the environmental health of the Great Plains, and rightly-raised cattle can help sustain that health. Our cattle–like the roaming herds of bison once did–harvest grasses, till the soil with their hooves, fertilize the ground (via that most natural of processes) and then are moved to fresh pastures, leaving the grazed plants to fully recover. When the pastures are rested (typically 70 to 80 days), the grasses develop to their full potential– growing extensive root systems that help them survive drought.  

For many years, our family has monitored the pastures which make up the Lasater property. Our goal is to see a continuous carpet of grass and forbs when we look down; bare hard-packed earth, which does not let in rainfall, is a sign of poor pasture health. Ground that is covered by grasses is able to hold water, enabling the land to receive the beneficial use of whatever precipitation falls. None of this is possible without the impact of grazing animals.

The spread of noxious weeds into grasslands provides a relatively new challenge for U.S. cattle raisers / grass "farmers". Rather than employ herbicide, we have chosen to introduce bugs which are natural predators for certain weeds and to bring in goats, which readily graze weeds. Most importantly, we try to manage the grazing to encourage the proliferation of healthy and diverse native plants that are able to compete with the foreign species.

Call us smart or call us crazy–we always look for a way to do the job naturally with the resources that nature gave us.
We have been ranching for more than a century, looking at our surroundings holistically instead of in parts. One of the most valuable lessons we’ve learned is that everything in Nature has a purpose... the ant, prairie dog, the coyote, the porcupine... This lesson governs every aspect of our business. We refuse to compromise when it comes to Nature–in a very real sense, she is our most valued business partner and the source of our business philosophy. Everything has its purpose, and it takes time to get results when you are on our mother's schedule. Forty years ago it was common practice to dry-age beef for 21 days. Due to the pressures to get beef quickly to the meat counter, dry-aging was eliminated. At Lasater Grasslands Beef, we are not in a hurry, as we are still dry-aging our beef.