The Nimitz family began a quest to own a ranch in the late 70s and into the early 80s. The couple, Ernest and Joanne Nimitz slowly began buying up pieces of land and today, their ranch covers about 1150 hectares.
As of 2011 there were 320 breeding cattle to accompany the 18 horses on their rotational seasonal grazing around the ranch. Michael Nimitz is their son who, as of last June, began the ranches’ new endeavour of selling healthy beef to locals. “I was always working on the ranch, but I just started the beef last year. In June it was officially declared a company by the BC government,” says Michael.
Michael is responsible for running the cattle and providing a low stress and cruelty free life for the animals on the ranch.
“We try and feed as naturally as possible and to ensure a healthy animal before we process them. When we finish them for beef there is no grain in their systems. We try and give them a natural diet. A natural cut of meat with no hormones, or antibiotics, or additives,” says Michael.
The ranch operates on three main values; biodiversity (increasing and maintaining the current biological balance on the land and in their water sources is a primary concern and objective); a healthy product (animal health is a high priority within the Nimitz program. Their belief is that a healthier animals yields a healthier product); a holistic approach (they operate their ranch in accordance with the recognized Environmental Farm Plan as well as a three part holistic goal).
The Nimitz beef website explains, “The Kiskatinaw River winds through the property like a lazy snake. Its intrinsic value can be seen by standing at the top of some of the 100-150 ft. cliffs that provide spectacular views of the river valley. The river is beneficial both to the beauty and the management of the property as it supplies controlled seasonal watering for the animals.”
The ranch uses horses to operate in a way that is beneficial to all of the animals. The website explains, “With approximately half of our ranch covered in spruce, pine, poplar and willow forest it would be nearly impossible to manage our animals and our grazing program without the use of horses. It is our belief that horses are the least stressful way to manage our cattle herds as well as one of the most important influences on enjoying our way of life in the outdoors with our animals.”
Michael explains there has been a very positive response to their new business of selling healthy beef. He says, “There has been a better response in the year than I thought there would be. It’s good. People like to have a healthier choice.”
Nimitz beef is located outside of Dawson Creek and Michael says he is willing to come and deliver beef to interested parties in Tumbler Ridge. “We always have package deals going on, or we sell a half quarter or whole animals. If it is a bunch of people who want small pieces, it’s better if they get together. The cheapest way to get it to Tumbler Ridge is to drive it out myself or meet somewhere along the way. It’s always an option to get it to Tumbler and I don’t turn anyone away.”
Nimitz beef is also available at the Dawson Creek Farmer’s Market where you will find Michael at his booth.
So what makes their beef a healthy option? Michael explains the cows operate on a fresh grass to fresh grass rotation. They ingest straight grass in the summer and hay in the winter. About 30–60 days before they are taken in to get processed, the cows have a flax ration implemented into their diet. Michael says, “That helps boost the healthy fats in the meat. If you do straight grass a lot of times, especially with the short growing season up here, you would get very lean meat and it could be very tough. It’s still healthy the way we do it and people get better cuts on their rib eyes and such.”
To purchase a half cow it will run you about $1150 to $1250 and to buy a whole cow it would about $2000-$2,100. A whole cow is about 350–450 pounds of beef.
Beef stays good in a freezer for about a year. “I usually tell people you are good for a year. I think they say it retains 85 percent of its freshness for about eight months and then it goes down after that. I’ve eaten frozen meat that is a year old and I don’t mind it.”