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Pasture Posts #17

Here’s the weekly roundup from Watson Farms and your direct connection to your farmer.  We hope all the dads out there have a great Father’s Day!  Enjoy the latest edition of Pasture Posts! 

tractor and covered hay ride for Ag and Art Tour South Carolina

Ag + Art Tour!

The Ag + Art Tour at our farm is Saturday, June 26!  The time is 10am – 4pm.  Just come to the farm (713 Colony Road, Chester, SC 29706) where we will be offering free tours every hour throughout the day. 

It’s a great event for the whole family where we encourage questions and curiosity about how we produce, process and market pastured proteins.  We always have great conversations on the tours so come on out and see us!

We will have a food truck as well as a ton of other vendors! Here’s a list: 

Continue reading Pasture Posts #17

Pasture Posts #16

Here’s the weekly roundup from Watson Farms and your direct connection to your farmer.  Enjoy the latest edition of Pasture Posts! 

Summer rains and drought

Our discussion from last week centered around water that we pump; so this week let’s discuss the water that falls in the form of rain.  

Much of our summer grass depends on timely rains in late-May through early-June.  While we didn’t get many of these in May, we are better off in June so far.  These early summer rains help to jumpstart a particular grass species that is key to our grass-fed beef: crabgrass.  That’s right, common crabgrass that many people consider a weed we consider a great asset.  But it does best when it has some heat and humidity mixed with a few rain showers, which more times than not is exactly what we get in South Carolina.

Here you can see newly sprouted crabgrass emerging through stubble and thatch of the previously mob-grazed ryegrass.    
Continue reading Pasture Posts #16

Pasture Posts #15

Here’s the weekly roundup from Watson Farms and your direct connection to your farmer.  Enjoy the latest edition of Pasture Posts! 

The most important nutrient

As we get in the summer routine here at Watson Farms, it’s hard to overstate how important water is to everything we do here.  Every time we move a set of animals, the question at the top of our checklist is “do they have access to drinking water?” 

Of all the equipment and infrastructure that is on our farm, it’s easy to see that things like ponds, wells, pipe and drinkers are among the most important. This is why over the last 15 years, we have laid thousands of feet of water line, and we’re not done!  The goal is to have access to water in every possible paddock that we might create.  

We think of water as the single most important nutrient that we provide for our livestock.  Life, much less growth, cannot happen without it.  

Water serves another critical purpose other than hydration, and that is cooling.  There’s nothing that our pigs love more than to wallow in a puddle on a hot afternoon.  Soon after that, they proceed to their second favorite activity: eating.  By allowing them to cool off, we are allowing them to gain weight like they are genetically predisposed to do.  

We also use water to provide some supplemental cooling for our broiler and layer chickens.  Our pasture houses for our laying hens have been equipped with misting nozzles that are connected to the water supply in the field. We simply open a valve to charge the misting line while we gather eggs in the heat of the day.  We run these misters periodically through the hot afternoons.  This keeps the hens happy, healthy and producing eggs.  

For the broiler chickens we mist them with a tank, nozzles, and pump attached to a tractor.  We drive this rig around the birds throughout the hot afternoons, but only when the birds are big – within 2 weeks of processing.  This is when they become especially susceptible to heat.  

When we properly care for all the animals that we have the privilege of stewarding, they reward us with health and vitality which produces a meat product that we can feel good about marketing, and you can feel good about consuming.  

We use a pipe laying attachment on a tractor to lay water line.  We can lay 500 feet in an hour.
Here’s a typical “quick coupler” that is installed in an underground water supply line.  We have dozens of these installed around the farm in order to have water access wherever it’s needed.  
Gary, Matt and little Abby, examine a new portable drinker after setting it up on the newly buried water line in 2015.  This location is over 3200 feet from the well.  
Continue reading Pasture Posts #15