Malheur River Meats is a partnership between the Bentz and Stokes families who reside in the high desert of Malheur County in southeastern Oregon.
The two families met and became friends many years ago. They soon realized that they shared the same dream of producing healthy range and pasture raised meat. Together, they formed Malheur River Meats to raise animals the way nature intended. Their traditional methods produce an honest, superior product that tastes great and is healthy for you and your family. Proper nutrition, efficient management, and compassionate, low-stress handling just makes sense to the two families. They meet their animals’ nutritional needs by following Mother Nature’s seasonal rhythm of grasses and forage. The animals rotate through the families’ ranches to provide a well-balanced nutrition and allow the vegetation to restore itself between grazing rotations.
The Rob and Michelle Stokes met at California State University at Chico, where they were studying Animal Science. The couple found that they had both grown up in the California ranch country, encouraged and inspired by their parents and by FFA (Future Farmers of America) advisors. In addition to what they learned from course work, they gained valuable experience working in the campus livestock operations. After graduation and marriage, they were hired by Niman Ranch, a natural meat business in the San Francisco Bay area. Rob and Michelle played major roles in expanding Niman Ranch into a nationally respected brand. During their 14 years with the company, their innovative thinking and hard work shaped the natural meat business in the U.S. In 2006, changes in the business gave them the opportunity to start their own ranch and meat business.
The Bentz family roots are intertwined with those of the Oregon cattle industry. Mike’s father, Ken, worked on the historic White Horse ranch after returning from World War II. Ken worked his way up to ranch boss and married the owner’s daughter, Anne. Ken and his brothers formed the Bentz Bros. Company, which sold grass fed “locker meat” in the 1960s. They sold half and whole beef to customers who stored the meat in rented lockers. Ken was one of the founders of Country Natural Beef, a marketing coop that connects ranchers and consumers directly. Mike’s wife Linda is also from a ranching family. Together, they have raised cattle as members of Country Natural Beef and supplied meat to Niman Ranch, where they met Rob and Michelle.