Fortifying the Foundation

Exactly one year ago this month, I was on the verge of watching my dream flourish. F1 Meats Co. was taking shape and my goal of creating a convenient, local, and cost-effective way to process steer and livestock for local farmers and fairs was almost a reality. 

The year that ensued was a whirlwind of accomplishments that saw F1 thrive to meet demand and the relocation of Chop-N-Block. 

We recently just finished the rush of animals from the fair in Hillsborough County — 209 head in total — of steer, hog, sheep, and lamb. As I write this, we’re about to take on another 30 steers from a local beef expo. That job will keep us busy through the end of January, right in time for the Polk County Youth Fair animals.

While staying busy with that operation, I’ve just launched the marketing and commerce website for Baxter Cattle Co., a company I formed a few years ago to sell the grass-fed beef from my own operation, Dark Hammock Legacy Ranch in west Highland County. 

Those cattle are all born and raised with a 100% grass-fed diet at Dark Hammock. Why grass-fed? Cattle — the way our Heavenly Father designed them to be — are ruminants. That means they are not designed to stick their head in a feed bucket and eat grain but instead to forage.

It takes much longer for a grass-fed steer to finish (24-30 months) than a grain-finished steer. While the meat typically does have to be prepared differently, it’s far superior from a health perspective. For example, meat from grass-fed animals has two to four times more omega-3 fatty acids than meat from a grain-fed animal.

The Baxter Cattle Co. is a proud member of the Fresh From Florida program, which promotes Florida agricultural products through consumer marketing campaigns and  partnerships.

The program emphasizes the power and importance of locally sourcing food, and that’s been a huge part of my modus operandi since day one. 

This article is sponsored by Labor Solutions, and the opinions expressed herein may not reflect those of Central Florida Ag News or of its advertisers.

BIO: Baxter Troutman is founder and chief executive officer of Labor Solutions, a staffing company with offices in Bartow, Winter Haven, Lake Wales, Arcadia, and Plant City. You also can visit his Dark Hammock Legacy Ranch online at A cattle rancher and citrus grower who served in the Florida House of Representatives, Troutman understands the challenges and concerns of today’s farmer.

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