Joshua Welch ’86 is a Managing Partner at Vicuna Advisors LLC. Additionally, he is the owner of a small grass-fed beef cattle operation that is located by his home in Stonington, CT. In 2002, Welch decided to move to southeastern Connecticut and convert 45 acres of land into pastures to rear grass-fed cattle. Although Welch had talked to many farmers before he started his operation and read literature relevant to rearing grass-fed cattle, he was still inexperienced when he began his farm. With that in mind he decided to choose the Australian Lowline cattle since they are bred to me more docile and provide more pounds of beef per acre as a grass-fed cattle. He then had a barn built by the Amish and bought equipment to begin his operation. He also talked about the many other factors important to building a small-scale grass-fed beef cattle operation such as regular veterinary check ups, mindful breeding, and the slaughtering and distribution of the meat.
Welch discussed the vast capital investment his operation required and the importance of thinking long-term as a cattle farmer. For example, each cow takes 48 months from birth in order to be ready for slaughtered which means Welch had to wait at least four years before he was able to gain any returns on his initial investment. It also takes time to build the cattle population to maximum capacity. Currently Welch has 48 cows and is trying to grow his cattle to 70. Moreover, Welch discussed the realities of how grass-fed beef was always going to cost more per pound than grain-fed beef, and the importance of consumers to check whether or not beef marketed as grass-fed is truly grass-fed throughout its entire life.
By Helen Song ’14