Wisconsin Bird-Friendly Beef

Designed for Wisconsin

Our protocols recognize that Wisconsin birds and farmers have unique needs.  They need to support our birds and be economically viable for farmers.

Only a program that meets both these criteria has the potential to see widespread adoption by our farmers.  And only a program that is adopted by many farmers can make a real impact on our grassland birds.


Finding Common Ground

Grassland birds and grazing have a symbiotic relationship.  Each species has a unique set of habitat requirements, but they all rely on human disturbance – either grazing, fire, or cutting – to provide nesting habitat.  

Without this disturbance, woody vegetation would take over and grassland birds would have no place to nest. A healthy bird population in turn helps the farmer by keeping the environment in balance.  

Because the breeding bird season overlaps with rapid pasture growth, setting aside a breeding refuge is a practical and economically viable option for farmers and forms the backbone of our protocol.

Tried and Tested

In 2020 and 2021, we tested our certification standards on Jim Munsch’s Deer Run Farm in Coon Valley, WI.  We completed breeding bird surveys and an economic analysis to better understand the costs to farmers of this system.

Our results were very promising and showed that the refuge system supports nesting of grassland birds and at the same time is economically sustainable for our farmers.  

More studies are planned for this year and as we learn more, we will continue to make the program more responsive to our farmers and our birds.

studies # 2

Our Wisconsin Future

We envision a future where every grass-fed beef farm in Wisconsin is bird-friendly.  We view ourselves as partners with our farmers to ensure a sustainable future for our farmers and our birds.  

Certifying Bird-Friendly Beef is only the beginning and we hope to continue our dialogue and partnership with farmers as we develop more bird-friendly farming practices. We are committed to listening to the feedback from our farmers to find more common ground.


Frequently Asked Questions.

We are certifying at least one Wisconsin farm this year to Wisconsin Bird-Friendly Beef standards.  To purchase this beef, please contact:

– Jim Munsch @ Deer Run Farm.  608-498-2634 or jmunsch@mwt.net

Check out our certification info page below or contact us directly on our contact page

See our Grassland Birds page here to learn more about our grassland birds and why they need our support.

Unfortunately, grazing often disrupts the breeding cycle of grassland birds and greatly limits their breeding success.  Research has shown that the breeding refuge is the best way beef farmers can support a healthy population of Wisconsin grassland birds.

Bird-Friendly Beef Protocols

Our protocols are designed to provide grassland birds with everything they need to successfully reproduce: diverse habitat, plenty of food, and security from predators and disturbances.

Breeding Refuge

Producer will set aside 15% of grazing pasture to make a breeding refuge. This refuge must be contiguous. The refuge location can change or stay the same from year to year.

Refuge Rules

Refuge will be off limits to grazing or mechanical intrusion from May 1 to July 15. After July 15 farmers can utilize the refuge as part of their pasture system.


Farmers will submit an aerial of their pasture with the refuge boundary delineated along with total refuge acres and non-refuge acres.

Stocking Rates

Stocking rates may be no more than 1 Animal Unit per acre. One Animal Unit is equivalent to one cow or steer.

Grass-Fed Beef

Animals must be minimum 90% forage-fed overall during their lifetime.


Verification will be via an in-person visit during breeding season