In the more recent years, the Lasater Brothers, Tom and Alex, have paired up to take over the family ranch, carry on the philosophies that their grandfather lived by, and expand their business and practices. The Laster family ranching philosophies were truly ahead of the times. They have been ranching sustainably and organically since the 1950s! Alex happily recalls his grandfather saying, “Nature is smarter than all of us, we are gonna work with her instead of against her. Animals, grasses, weeds were all put here for a reason so we need to find a way to work with all these things instead of poisoning them and getting rid of them.”
The Lastater family takes great pride in their family’s accomplishments and philosophies. The brothers attributed where they are today as a successful, sustainable, organic, and GAP Step rated ranch to their grandfather Tom and father Dale. They embraced rotational grazing and continued to celebrate all that was put here- the plants, weeds, and animals. They all live the family philosophy to work with mother-nature and always ask why each thing was put here -what is its purpose to our ecosystem?
Both brothers, Tom and Alex, stressed that their cattle and their practices are much “bigger than being cowboys raising cattle.” Alex explained “It is about a belief system and a person’s integrity. How we ranch and how we choose to treat our animals and the people we are around… We are doing what we do because it makes sense. We are taking a naturally occurring green product and turning it into healthy protein for humans. We are reversing desertification of our grasslands –taking care of the cattle and land is important for the plants. We need to mimic wild migration patterns in Africa. This is the natural and correct way to graze the land.” Tom went on to add, “We don’t use pesticide on cattle or the land. Our cattle are outside 365 days a year eating grass. The cattle really are in the wild- there is plenty of land for them to roam; our smallest pasture is 10,000 acres. Because they are so far out on the land, we have to ride on horseback for days to find them! They walk a lot everyday, sometimes miles. In that sense, they get a lot of exercise and are extremely active and healthy.”
The Lastaters are very in touch with their cattle and celebrate the intelligence of their animals. Alex and his cowboys have a no yelling policy with the cattle. They talk to them, telling them where to look, where they want them to go, and they even ask for a leader. Alex said that one cow always steps forward and the herd follows after. He explained that talking to the cattle helps to keep the whole herd calmer. Yelling at the cattle all day can be dangerous because “cattle are intelligent and noble but they all have a breaking point… There are certainly gentle cattle but not all are. If they get scared or are tired of being yelled at it can be dangerous. Each animal has a breaking point and so we work with them to make sure they don’t reach that point.”
With all the extra care and attentiveness to handling and raising the cattle, it is important to the Lasaters that they also put that much effort into communicating with the consumers. Being a part of GAP helps to communicate clearly what they are doing as ranchers and what the consumer is purchasing and supporting. Having a clear and recognizable label, like the GAP label, makes the buying process simpler when you are looking to support certain farming and ranching systems. People are concerned with what they are eating and their support and long with the support from retailers for standards in farming is what is driving national dialog and change.
Lasater is a growing and thriving ranching business that GAP is happy to have as part of our family. Between these two brothers, we can expect only great things to continue, evolve, and improve in the cattle ranching world.