Mills Family Farm in Mooresville, North Carolina, is our source of pasture-raised beef. The Mills family has run the farm since 1935; originally it was three farms owned by brothers, but the whole farm is now owned and run by Bradley and Nicole Mills. Bradley also works full time as a veterinarian, and Nicole manages all of the farms sales and the small on-farm store. The 200 acres of land are an Iredell County Farmland Preservation District, and Mills has worked with the Natural Resource Conservation Service to manage their soil and water resources, installing wells to exclude the steers from the creek and building earthen dams to direct water flow.
The farm buys male calves from other local farms. The steers are raised on pasture year-round. A small amount (less than 4 percent) of supplemental feed is used to help the steers gain about two pounds per day, the growth rate that creates well-marbled, tender beef. Mills uses wet corn fiber, soy hulls, and a peanut skin-cotton lint mix as supplemental feeds; all are byproducts of other regional industries. The steers receive no antibiotics or added hormones. They are processed and USDA inspected locally at Mays Meats in Taylorsville. The meat is dry-aged in a cooler for ten days to enhance the quality: moisture evaporates from the meat, which concentrates its flavor, and enzymes break down the tissue, increasing its tenderness. (Dry aging only works with higher grades of meat because the process requires large, evenly distributed fat content.)
We buy the entire animal from Mills, along with additional orders of the most popular cuts of meat. This means we can have almost two dozen different cuts of meat in our case, although some (like roasts, steaks, and ground beef) are available more regularly than others (brisket, cube steak, or osso buco, for example). Read about our visit to Mills Family Farm on our blog, or watch the video below.