The Brittain family market their beef through farmers markets and grocery stores
Josh and Chassidy Brittain follow an ethic of transparency in operating Brittain Farm. They have two farms in Taney County, where they work and live with their four young children, Parks, Hurley, Asa and Josie.
The Brittains raise and sell a variety of animals, including calves, chickens and hogs, as well as heritage breed turkeys for the holidays. Their main product, however, is their pasture-raised beef cattle.
“I try to be transparent on both sides,” Josh said, speaking of the salesmanship involved in the farming business. “This is what we do. How do you know that? Well you can come look to see that I’m doing what I say I do.”
Chassidy added, “You can see that [the cows] have a good life in that they’re living on a good, green pasture.”
The 120-acre farm in Kirbyville, Mo., where the Brittains raise their calves, has been in the family for more than 100 years. According to Josh, his great-grandfather, Milton Harvey Brittain, had five farms in the Taney County area. Josh’s grandfather, Hurley Brittain, inherited one of those farms on the White River, but when the government bought that farm in anticipation of putting in Bull Shoals Lake, Hurley bought the Kirbyville farm from his wife’s uncle. That farm passed to Josh’s parents, Mike and Linda Brittain, who also acquired a second location near Taneyville. Mike and Linda still own and are active on both properties, but operating has now passed on to Josh.
The 60 head of Brittain Farm cattle spend their days at the Taneyville location: 270 acres of green pastures with Beaver Creek cutting through it. The cattle are a cross of Angus and another Brittain tradition, Hereford.
“My great-grandfather brought some of the first registered Herefords to this area,” Josh stated. “It’s run in this family a long time.”
Alternating an Angus and a Hereford bull left in the pasture every three years, the Brittains breed the hybrid for its vigor and its foraging instincts.
“They eat a little more brush and sprouts and acorns,” Josh explained. “They’ll grow a little faster and a little more hardy, and it shows up in your meat in the end.”
The Brittains care intensely for the end product, and all of their animals the Brittains raise are fed and treated as naturally as possible, avoiding GMOs, hormones and antibiotics to produce meat they believe is healthier for the consumer.
“We worm them,” said Josh, speaking of the cattle. “I do give them a blackleg vaccination at birth just because that’s a horrible disease if you ever get it, and that’s pretty much it.”
Any livestock that falls ill, the Brittains will of course care for and give the proper medication, although that animal will be sold at auction or online rather than ending up in one of Brittain Farm’s meat outlets.
The Brittains sell their all-natural beef and other products at their booths at the Branson Farmer’s Market and the Farmer’s Market of the Ozarks in Springfield, Mo. They also wholesale beef to Harter House in Hollister, Mo., and Well N Good Health Market in Nixa, Mo., to make it available to local grocery shoppers. Anyone directly contacting Brittain Farm can also place special orders, including orders for grain-finished beef if desired.
“We typically butcher steers when they are 22 to 24 months old,” Chassidy explained. “In order to keep some of our steaks bone-in, they must be younger than 24 months, and in order to get some marbling on a grass-fed beef, you want it to be older than 18 months. So we push to butcher as long as we can.”
Josh and Chassidy do everything they can to avoid a feedlot atmosphere at their farm and strive to offer a safe, natural option to anyone concerned with where their food comes from.
While the transparent farm markets between 12 to 15 steers directly to customers each year, Josh stated, “my end-goal would be to take every livestock off the farm and put it directly in somebody’s freezer or on their table.”
Until they reach that goal of entirely direct-to-table sales, the Brittains cover unmet expenses in part with any extra calves they raise at the Kirbyville farm.
“A lot of our calves, at weaning time or a little after weaning, we will take t to the livestock auction and sell them that way or over the internet,” Josh said. Since they leave a bull in the pasture, the Brittains get both fall and spring calves.
Other work for the Brittains includes Chassidy’s job at College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Mo. assisting in coordinating the school’s patriotic events and trips. Outside of work, a favorite pastime of the Brittain family is camping and floating all around the Ozarks area. And although the kids aren’t quite big enough to offer major help to their parents in the farm work, Josh and Chassidy do their best to train their children to hopefully carry on the deep and honest family traditions at Brittain Farm.