Our production model is based on grass and raising happy healthy animals, because healthy happy animals produce delicious and healthy meat. We have found that healthy, happy animals are a direct result of a production model in which the animals get to be themselves and are raised in as natural environment as possible. A direct result of raising animals in the most natural environment possible is sustainability. To us sustainability, does not just mean that something can continue as is forever. Sustainable agriculture should mirror nature, in that the environment benefits from having animals on it.
The foundation of our production model is grass. All of our animals are raised on pasture their entire life and we utilized Management Intensive Grazing (MIG) to insure we maintain healthy topsoil and pasture. MIG is a rotational grazing system that requires pigs, cattle and poultry to continual move on to fresh pasture; which is small enough to ensure that the animals graze the entire pasture, but large enough to ensure the animals do not over graze it. MIG insures that our pigs, cattle and poultry are always on the most nutritious and palatable pastures possible and allows the grass to have 27 to 40 days of rest. One of the biggest pathogen issues faced by ranchers and farmers is intestinal worms. Intestinal worms have a 21 day life cycle, thus by allowing pastures to rest for a minimum of 27 days insures that the animals stay worm free. MIG also has the added benefit of increasing topsoil by at least an inch a year, improving grass species diversity, and has proven to reduce topsoil erosion by 93%. Multiple studies state that one acre of MIG pasture stores more Carbon Dioxide than one acre of tropical rain forest.
Healthy, happy animals require that we only feed animals what they are designed to eat. Thus our cows which our herbivores only eat grasses and legumes. Pigs and poultry are both omnivores and although they are designed to eat almost anything, in our system they only eat what is available on pasture or GMO free grain and hay supplemental rations.
Although we raise multiple species of animals, pigs are by
far our favorite. Pigs are smart, social
and extremely fun to raise on pasture.
In our system each pig develops a unique personality. We raise all of our pigs on pasture, with
their litter mates and in a rotational paddock system. Our pastured raised pigs are born on pasture
and are fenced lined weaned, which allows the piglets to still be able to see
and touch their mom, but not suckle.
After a few days of the piglets are then moved as a litter group to a
pasture paddock with older pigs. Pigs
are extremely social and by having younger pigs living with older pigs, all of
the pigs get to benefit from a complex social life and the bigger pigs look
after the little ones and teach them how to forage.
Our sows and boars also spend their entire life on pasture although we do not keep the boars with the sows year-round, only during breeding. This ensures that we only have litters born during the warmer months, when it requires less energy to produce and raise babies.
Each pig paddock has shelter enough for all of the pigs, a free choice grain and hay feeders and fresh water. We build all of paddocks large enough to ensure the pigs will be able to consume at least 60% of their diet from the pasture, year-round. A great benefit to raise pigs on pasture is that the manure (approximately 6 pounds a day) is absorbed into the pasture and builds topsoil health.
The end result of our pasture raised pigs, is fantastic pasture raised pork. Because such a large amount or pasture raised pigs diets consists of grass and other green plants; our pasture raised pork is higher in Omega 3s, vitamin A, EPA, DHA, Steric acid and vitamin E than conventional raised pork. Our production model insures that none of our pigs endure abnormal stress thus insuring healthy pigs that do not require any medical treatments.
We raise all of chickens and turkeys on pasture. We have found that raising chickens and
turkeys in a free-range environment is not as beneficial as raising them in bottomless,
mobile pens that we move every day. Due
to our environment, altitude and predators, we have found that having shelter
from wind, snow, sun and predators is a must.
In a strict free-range production system, the chickens and turkeys
always over-saturate the area immediately by the shelter with manure and over
graze their favorite spots thus killing the grass in those areas. What we have found to work best is square short
houses for chickens and rectangular, tall house for turkeys. Half of each house is covered in wire and the
other half is fully covered with wood or tin.
The bottoms of the houses are entirely open. The chickens are housed to insure they have
at least 4 square feet per bird and 8 square feet for turkeys. We move the houses every day, which insures their
manure is evenly spread out and the grasses are not over grazed. This also allows us to offer our birds free choice
fresh grass every day. We water the
birds every morning but only offer them non-GMO feed at night. This insures that the birds get most of their
diet from what they find on pasture.
The end result is chicken and turkey that is healthier and more flavorful than conventional poultry.
Grass fed and finished beef is exactly what it sounds like, all of our cows spend their entire lives on grass, eating grass and constantly moving to new pastures. We utilize MIG practices to insure we have healthy pastures and healthy cows that do not require vaccinations or antibiotics. Since cows require more space and labor and typically only produce one calf a year, and because we only butcher animals we raise, our beef production is finite. Our first loyalty is to the animals and insuring we only raise happy and healthy animals, which requires healthy grass. If we were to take short cuts and sacrifice our ideals, we could raise more beef, but it would be at the detriment to our animals and pasture.
Our calves are born in late spring, they then spend the rest of their lives living with the herd, constantly moving to new pastures. Due to our location we experience very wild weather swings through out the year; specifically snow in winter and lack of moisture and extreme heat in the spring and summer, during these periods we will move the cattle to poor soil pastures and feed free choice hay. This does two things, one it protects the grasses in healthier pastures from suffering from weather stress and grazing, and secondly builds up the top soil in the area we are feeding. We only feed pasture hay and source verified hay that was grown without synthetic chemicals. In a truly wild setting our cows would be able to migrate to other areas with more rain or less snow, just like the buffalo did, but this is not an option for us due to fences and modernity.