Raising Meat Animals Ethically
July 12, 2022
Better Food, Better Life.
It's our tagline for a few reasons and today, we're exploring how the way we raise our livestock for meat makes the case for both better food and a better life - for the animals and humans. Unlike the horrible images of animals in factory farms with no access to the outdoors and no space to roam, this is what we do to give our animals a better life:
Raised outside. Of course, all of our animals have access to the outdoors year-round. The cattle and pigs have access to barn shelter in the winter. In summer, all of the animals are out on pasture grazing with various shelters, as appropriate for the animals' needs.
Rotationally grazed. When on pasture, the animals are rotationally grazed, meaning they move across the pasture in small, controlled paddocks. As discussed in our blog about soil, this helps distribute manure, prevent overgrazing, encourage plant diversity, and build soil health. It also keeps the animals healthier, naturally, by constantly moving them away from their own manure, which could otherwise harbor disease or parasites.
The animals also help to put carbon back into the soil, as well. Instead of contributing to greenhouse gases, their grazing stimulates the plants to put down more roots and regrow. This growth requires carbon, which the plants take out of the air and in turn, put back into the soil as they regrow.
Moving the animals regularly also helps create habitat for wildlife, as the animals minimally disturb the ecosystem they're in, easily coexisting with nesting birds, busy pollinators, frogs, etc.
Wholesome diet. The diversity of the plant species in the pastures help give the animals a well rounded diet. Free choice mineral feeders allow the animals to choose what additional nutrient supplements they need. The cattle and sheep, of course, are ruminants and are 100% grass-fed, eating only pasture during grazing season and hay in winter.
The chickens, turkeys, and pigs, however, are NOT ruminants and do require grain for a wholesome complete diet. They all have free choice grain feeders with non-GMO mixes suited to their individual needs.
Plentiful space. Even in the smaller paddocks we use in rotational grazing, the animals always have more than enough space to roam, eat, and wander. This eliminates competition for food and allows them to maintain a more relaxed, natural, healthy herd structure.
Plenty of water. Water lines throughout the pastures and winterized tanks in the barn ensure the animals' most basic need for water is met, always. In the heat of summer and cold of winter, we do extra checks to make sure everyone still has access to the water they need.
No antibiotics, hormones, or steroids. Because the animals stay healthy naturally by having plentiful space, fresh food, and a well balanced diet, we have no reason to give broad spectrum antibiotics, hormones, or steroids to our livestock. Of course, if an animal does become ill, we give it the medicine it needs as prescribed by a veterinarian so that it can be healthy and well, again.
Minimal stress. Many of the things already listed above are huge alleviators of stress, but we do what we can to minimize stress when we work with the animals, too. We use loading/handling equipment and designs inspired by Dr Temple Grandin's animal welfare research to ease any confusion or stress the animals might have as we work with them.
Humanely processed. We have worked with the same trusted processors for years. They are all USDA inspected and run by people who truly care about the animals and the quality of the meat they provide.
Finding a butcher you can trust, not only with handling your animals, but with ensuring they are processed to the highest quality possible, is no easy thing and we are so grateful for ours.
How does that result in better food?
The #1 reason customers buy from us is taste. Our meat products simply taste better, and a lot of that is to do with how they were raised. Stress hormones literally change the quality and flavor of an animal's meat. Because we do everything we can to make sure our animals live a well, natural life, they don't have a lot of stress and that carries through in the exceptional quality of our products.
More nutritious. The improved soil health (as mentioned last week) and diversity of plants in the pasture help ensure the animals have a more nutritious diet. This produces more nutrient dense meat, including a higher ratio of omega 3 fatty acids, which are important for brain and heart health.
Trusted. You can also trust our meat to be free of any antibiotics, hormones, steroids, and GMOs for cleaner eating.