Background History

Hidden-Vue Farm has been in the Nortunen family for four generations and is a Century farm (over 100 years of continuous family ownership).  The farm has been a dairy farm for many years including Jim farming it for 35 years.  In 1999 Jim quit milking and sold the dairy cows and started raising replacement heifers, and started a small beef herd on the side. 

In 2003 Jim’s son David moved back home to farm and the focus changed from dairy replacement heifers to the beef herd.  After it was determined there was too much risk and not enough reward in the conventional market we decided to look at different options in niche markets.  Later in 2003, after much research and reading several different articles in the Stockman Grass Farmer the decision to start raising Grass Finished Beef was made. 

Goals           

Unlike a lot of companies today, Hidden-Vue Farm only has one goal.  “To produce the highest quality grass finished steaks available.”  Regardless of whether we finish the cattle ourselves or sell the calves to select finishers.  Regardless of whether the steaks are eaten by family, sold to friends, or sold to major markets including Minneapolis, Chicago and New York.

The overriding goal remains the same.  We want the best grass finished steak possible.  To us that means a tender, juicy, nutrient dense steak every time.  To achieve this goal we feel we will need to do two things; one, use the absolute best genetics available, and two, grow the best quality forage possible.

Forage

We understand that even the best genetics in the world won’t succeed without proper nutrition.  To grow the best quality forage available, we have been working with Doug Gunnink, owner of Dutch Mill Organic Supplies. 

We are committed to improving our soils and our forage biodiversity.  To that end we are performing soil, tissue and forage testing.  We have planted Italian Ryegrass to finish our cattle on, which has one of the highest levels of energy of any grass.  We utilize techniques taught in Doug’s seminars such as tissue, PH, and BRIX testing.  Several of our pastures have been managed organically for over 10 years with one as long as 14.

Genetics

In order to create the best grass finished herd possible we decided to have the industry’s foremost genetics expert, Gearld Fry, come out and personally ultrasound and analyze our herd.  We culled about 1/3 of our herd immediately and rated the rest of the herd on an “A”, “B”, and “C” basis.  We are culling the "C" cows as fast as we can. Gearld also went through and chose which heifers to keep as replacement heifers.  We have had our herd ultrasounded for tenderness on two other occasions, once more with Gearld and once with Tallgrass Beef. Each time we culled a significant portion of our herd.

In talking with Gearld it quickly became apparent that the best grass finished genetics existed within the Devon breed and specifically within the Rotokawa Devon Herd from New Zealand.  Since 2005 we have continually tried to upgrade our genetics through our herd sires. We have purchased bulls, semen and embryos with Rotokawa Influence to improve our genetics.

In 2008 I was able to visit the famed Rotokawa herd in New Zealand and spent several days with Ken and Pru McDowell (managers of the herd). I was very impressed with the quality of the animals and their ability to stay fat during the middle of an extreme drought. One animal in particular that I really liked was sired by Rotokawa Stocklad, and I made a note to myself to try and get that influence in my herd if at all possible.

Several years after visiting Ken I was able to purchase a son of Rotokawa Stocklad (Rotokawa 310) from his herd that was flown to the States. The bull was born in New Zealand, flown to California and then trucked to the East coast and then back to Wisconsin. You could say that he's been around the world!

After 8 years of breeding we have a significant influence of Rotokawa cattle in our herd. We have daughters from Rotokawa 688, 982, Stocklad, 93, 861 and 243.

In 2014, in order to introduce more genetic diversity to our herd, we AI'd some of our best cows to bulls from the Tirranna herd in Australia. After looking at pictures of 5 half brothers, all sons of one of the Tirranna herd bulls we were struck by how similar these bulls were to each other. They were all very consistently deep, wide and thick and also have slick shedding hair coats.