One of the ever-expanding network of Audubon Certified ranches in Montana is Montana Better Beef in Kila, Montana. The ranch is run by Pete Wade, along with his daughter Lisa and her husband Oscar. Montana Better Beef is a direct-to-market ranch, and in addition to being Audubon Certified they are certified organic and their cattle are grass fed from start to finish.
From the Montana Better Beef website: “Our certified organic cattle have never seen any hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, or herbicides. They live on the ranch simply being cows, and watching them do this gives us great joy. We care about our livestock and we care about providing the best beef with the highest level of customer satisfaction.”
On September 23, 2023, the Montana Audubon board of directors joined Executive Director Larry Berrin and Director of Conservation Christian Meny in Kila, MT, for a tour of the ranch. Montana Better Beef became Audubon Certified in 2021, and a highlight of the visit was lunch featuring Audubon Certified burgers. Of course the tour also included birding, and the local birds did not disappoint- a few species spotted include Pileated Woodpecker, Pine Siskin, and a Northern Harrier flying low over the cattle pasture.
Montana Better Beef rotates cattle on leased land off Browns Meadow Road near Smith Lake Waterfowl Production Area (WPA), as well as on land they own near Island Lake, northwest of the ranch. Truman Creek runs through the ranch and feeds into Ashley Creek, a tributary of the Flathead River. Ashley Creek has been designated as impaired by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) due to high water temperatures and pollution caused by nutrients and sediment. Because of this designation, and because Truman Creek is a spawning tributary for native cutthroat trout (not to mention fantastic birding habitat), the DEQ is funding riparian restoration on the creek as well as construction of a new bridge across the creek that will help the ranch increase rotational grazing, opening up new pastures while resting other pastures. This restoration work will help reduce sediment load and help cool these waters, key factors for trout survival.
Over the next three years, Montana Audubon will be working with Montana Better Beef on projects that will benefit both ranching operations and wildlife habitat.
Some of the project goals include:
We are excited to continue working with Montana Better Beef, with funding from the Montana DEQ, to make these impactful changes a reality!
Learn more about the Audubon Conservation Ranching program in Montana
Learn more about Montana Better Beef
Learn more about the Montana Department of Environmental Quality