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Six farmers come together to form Heritage Beef

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Six Amish Mennonite farmers have formed Heritage Beef, a marketing company designed to help them get a better price for their Devon grass-fed cattle. All of the farmers are located within 20 miles of Thomas in northwestern Bureau County.

Six Amish Mennonite farmers have come together to market their Devon beef cattle in a company called Heritage Beef.

"We started the first of this year," said Sheldon Headings, who lives in rural Sheffield near Thomas in northwestern Bureau County, the spokesman for the company. "We market 100 percent grass-fed Devon beef. They are a lot more healthy and have four times the Omega 3 (fatty acids) and are higher in CLA and Vitamin E than conventional grain-fed beef."

The six farmers who formed Heritage Beef each raise about 20 to 30 cows and finish them all on grass. In the winter, they use stored hay to feed the cows.

"It is more tender beef. We raise a healthy product and a good tasting product," said Headings. "They are more efficient on grass and use it better than other breeds of cattle."

Coming together through Heritage Beef allows the six farmers located within 20 miles of Thomas to get a better price for their cattle when they are processed.

"Many people are surprised at how good the beef's flavor and taste is. It is more tender," he said.

The farmers involved in Heritage Beef have a goal of finishing out their cattle in 18 to 24 months.

Devon is an old breed of cattle that came over from England and is an offshoot of cattle raised in New Zealand.

Being 100-percent grass-fed cattle not only makes it cost efficient for the Heritage Beef owners but is also friendly for the environment, as compared to feedlots with big, concentrated piles of manure and large holding tanks of manure.

"We don't use hormones, chemicals or antibiotics," he said. "We don't have any MSG or nitrates in our beef. We never feed them corn."

In order to be classified as 100-percent grass-fed beef, the cattle must not be fed any grain, animal by-products or be confined in a feedlot at any stage in the animal's life.

Headings and the other five farmers in Heritage Beef pay special attention to the soils beneath the grass to make sure their cows feed on the highest quality grass, added Headings.

The men all take their cows to be processed at a certified organic plant in Eureka that is inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

People interested in ordering beef through Heritage Beef can contact Headings at (815) 499-1332. His e-mail address is shorganics@emypeople.net.

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