Every once in a while, especially after a week of extreme weather like this past one, I and other farmers have to remind ourselves why we chose to raise livestock on pasture. So here’s a few reasons among many:
- On pasture is the animal’s natural environment. They generally thrive outdoors on pasture because that’s how their bodies were designed. A pig wouldn’t have a snout like he does if he were meant to live on concrete. A heifer wouldn’t have a rumen if she were meant to only digest grain. And a chicken wouldn’t have a sharp beak and toe nails if she was meant to live out her life under a roof on pine shavings and never have the opportunity to forage and eat bugs. Livestock should be raised in their natural environment while we as farmers should seek to only enhance it with strategic placement of water, shade/shelter, and supplemental feed when needed, etc. Here’s a great book by Joel Salatin that has encouraged our family to continue expanding our pastured livestock enterprises.
- Better Meat and Eggs! It should be common sense that when the animal is raised in a habitat very similar to it’s natural one instead of in confinement that the protein we derive from it will be more nutritious and tasty. But our industrialized culture in general tends to forfeit nutrition and quality for a “cheaper-today” sticker price. The health benefits of proteins from animals on pasture (especially grass-fed beef) have been widely documented. Omega-3s, CLAs, and other beneficial nutrients are increased 2 to 5 times in pastured livestock.
- The Local Effect. From the farmer’s perspective it is much more satisfying to actually know customers by name rather than selling animals through an auction after which they’re put on a truck for an 18-hour ride to be “treated,” confined, etc. Our customers actually deeply care about our success. They often tell us how much they appreciate us producing wholesome food. That doesn’t happen in industrial agriculture where the farmer’s load of corn or cattle would never be missed if he didn’t show up. This personal connection is just one of many benefits of a local food system. Read this article for more.
- A Kid-friendly Farm. A pasture-based farm is a great place to raise kids. There is a wealth of information for them to gather, and it encourages the whole family to see our kids interacting with animals that are in a proper environment.
These are just a few reasons among many that we choose to grow livestock on pasture. Not only do these principles benefit the farmer, but they also benefit the consumer and the animals.
Join us on our journey as we continue to produce more and more pastured livestock that are marketed to local consumers.