Growing better grass to raise better beef
Posted On October 10, 2023
Joey Mason made his living in erosion control, growing special grasses that naturally protect the soil in which they’re rooted. Growing grass is also an important facet of another industry, however – the beef industry – and Mason has found a way to use his expertise to enter and learn a new business.
Mason, our guest in a recent episode of “What’s Working with Cam Marston,” owns and operates Mason Hills Farm, a cattle ranch in Grand Bay, Alabama, that produces high-end, premium beef. He says he had no idea what he was doing when he bought the 200-acre farm, but he’s created a business that is producing a high-end product and is utilizing the whole animal to create additional product lines.
Mason says his beef is different because of the care with which he and his staff treat their animals. “It’s different because we started with a good forage,” he said. “Then we start with the best genetics we can find. Then we have a good environment; the cows are happy and free and doing their thing. Then we grain-finish them, or sometimes we leave them on 100 percent grass because some people like that.”
Grain-finishing and dry aging are two methods in which Mason Hills Farm is able to produce a higher-end, properly graded and weighed cut of beef. Other advantages are using artificial intelligence to help them grade their beef, and having an on-site USDA inspector at their processing facility.
Most of their sales are currently online, but they are in the process of expanding their distribution. They’re also developing other product lines, such as Ranger’s Select dog food (named for one of Mason’s dogs), and Herschel Burger (named for Mason’s father, who is also part of the business).
One of the advantages of not growing up as a farmer or cattleman, and entering the business green, is not having any preconceived notions about how things should be done. “As I’ve grown, I’ve seen ways people do it correctly and ways I think it can be approved,” Mason said. “We’re just constantly working on the things that are improving.”
Mason says one other thing he hasn’t much idea about is how he finds employees, but he knows how to keep them – by treating them like family. “When you treat people with integrity and respect and not like a number,” he said, “they tend to do a lot better job for you.”