Herefords Support Habitat at Audubon Certified Bird-Friendly Orvis Cattle Company

Rotational grazing works for grassland birds in the Audubon Conservation Ranching program
Western Meadowlark. Photo: Matthew O'Connor/Audubon Photography Awards

Stockton, Calif. — The National Audubon Society has awarded its bird-friendly habitat certification to the Orvis Cattle Company’s Snow Ranch in California’s Central Valley. Beef produced on the ranch and sold under its Orvis Beef brand can now carry the Audubon Certified bird-friendly seal, a package and promotional label that recognizes product origin as lands managed for birds and biodiversity.

At 2,487 acres, the Snow Ranch – home ranch of the Orvis Cattle Company – spans the upper reaches of Stanislaus and Calaveras counties and is home to a large array of birds and other wildlife. The ranch’s bird-friendly status comes through Audubon Conservation Ranching, a habitat program working to stabilize grassland bird populations in California and across the United States. The ranch operation is the 17th in California to earn the Audubon certification and joins a network of over 100 ranches nationwide. As an Audubon Certified bird-friendly habitat, Snow Ranch is specifically managed to provide habitat for a wide range of avian species, including Northern Harriers, Grasshopper Sparrows, and Western Meadowlarks.

A working, family-owned ranch since 1873, the Snow Ranch today is owned and operated by Nora Grace Harper and her parents Susan and Don. The trio continues to raise Herefords – the oldest purebred Hereford herd in California. Nora, who oversees the day-to-day operations for the Orvis Cattle Company, says through rotational grazing, those Herefords are more than weight gainers. “They’re a living link in our ranch ecosystem, helping us manage the land for long-term resilience and leading to the creation of diverse wildlife habitat.”

Matt Allshouse, Audubon California’s Senior Manager for the Conservation Ranching program, says rotational grazing that allows vegetation rest and recovery is about the best tool in the grassland management toolbox. “It’s easy to assume that grassland birds need grassland habitat, but it’s more nuanced than that. Just as there are different species of grassland birds, those different species have different habitat needs. By design, rotational grazing creates areas of short, mid, and tall cover that serve multiple species. Through a planned and adaptive grazing regime, Orvis Cattle Company has provided critical habitat through the previous years of drought while still producing quality grass-fed/finished dry-aged beef.”

Products grazed on the Orvis Cattle Company’s Audubon Certified bird-friendly Snow Ranch are available for delivery in Oakdale, California. To find out more about sourcing bird-friendly beef from the Harpers visit their website, or visit their farm stand, located at 9601 East Highway 4 in Farmington on Fridays from 9 am – 4 pm.

For more information about Audubon Conservation Ranching in California, contact Matt Allshouse at (916) 737-5707.

About Audubon Conservation Ranching

A wildlife habitat initiative of the National Audubon Society with a unique market front, Audubon Conservation Ranching’s purpose is to stabilize declining grassland bird populations in partnership with ranchers – on whose land 95 percent of grassland birds live. Audubon Conservation Ranching’s enrollment includes 100 ranches, covering more than 2.8 million acres that have earned status as Audubon Certified bird-friendly land. Incentivizing this habitat work for birds and biodiversity are consumers with an appetite for conservation, who support it with the purchase of products grazed on these lands. Shoppers see a special package designation – the Audubon Certified bird-friendly seal – that sets these products apart. For more information, visit

About Audubon

The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow, throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon’s state programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon’s vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more at and @audubonsociety.