Author: Dominik Schleidgen
Pictures: Hanno Meier

A Meal with Germany’s “Meat Pope”

Chef and farmer Ludwig Maurer runs a cattle breeding farm and gourmet restaurant in the Bavarian Forest. He sets new standards for his treatment of the animals – for both the rearing and consumption of them.

Humane treatment and conservation

When Ludwig Maurer took over his family’s farm almost 15 years ago, he knew that he wanted to accomplish something new. To this day, the trained chef breeds Wagyu cows in the heart of the Bavarian Forest. The famed Kobe beef, which excites gourmands worldwide, comes from these animals in Japan – and is sometimes sold for outrageous prices. The highest price ever paid at auction for Japanese Kobe beef was €43,000 per kilogram.  

For Ludwig Maurer – who prefers to go by Lucki – humane treatment and sustainable breeding are his top priorities. The herd today consists of around 60 cows, and these black-furred, dark-eyed animals grow up on around 40 hectares. His expertise on animals and meat processing has given him the nickname the “Meat Pope” – and ignited interest in his work well beyond the borders of the Bavarian Forest.

After waking up, I immediately go to the barn. When I see that all of the animals are healthy and happy, I feel the same way.

Maurer gave an interview to the Austrian science portal on a sunny October day. In front of the camera, and with his cattle herd looking on curiously, the organic farmer spoke about the topics that matter to him. “We allow the animals to graze all year long,” explains Lucki. The cows’ diet consists solely of grass, grass silage, and hay.

Lucki embodies his considerate treatment of the animals: as he walks across the pasture for the camera, the cattle dutifully trot behind him. During a break in filming, he talks about a baby calf that he bottle fed for weeks. “There he is now,” he says, pointing to a sturdy animal in the middle of the pack. He also says that his animals are the first thing on his mind when he wakes up in the morning. “After waking up, I immediately go to the barn. When I see that all of the animals are healthy and happy, I feel the same way.”

Days on the farm, evenings in the kitchen

For Lucki, sustainability also means showing respect for every life. “For me, meat is the most precious of all food,” he says. That’s why no piece should be wasted during preparation. “When we butcher animals, we have to use everything, from nose to tail.”  

Lucki stays on his feet for 12 to 14 hours a day to care for his farm, cattle and restaurant. He spends the day on the farm, out in the meadows and in the forest. Evenings are spent in the kitchen.  

So, what else is in the interview? Lucki explains the need for durable safety shoes for his work. “You can wear them while driving a tractor, repairing electric fences, or roaming the woods with the dog,” says the farmer. “Or even to run away from a bull, if he’s following you,” he jokes.  

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