Pasture Raised, that is what all marketers are putting on their labels. But what does it mean? Does it really mean anything? Well I’m going to tell you what it means on our farm, and then you will have to decipher what other farms mean when they use the term pasture raised.
If you have looked through our website at all, you’ll see we are farmers with integrity. We farm from the soil up, and with nature. The pictures are so picturesque! (And they are not STOCK PHOTOS, they are all ours!) Well it sounds all nice. And then you will see in the store that pasture raised eggs and meat get a premium price. So it must be good, right? If you have done research on your nutritional needs, and you see that pasture raised meat and eggs have more of the “good stuff” in them. But do you really know what all that means, there is no universal definition. And trust me, the big companies know all this and use Green-washing all the time to get your money. They may or may not be doing what we are on our farm and still using the same label.
On our small family farm of 76 acres, we primarily use 25 of those acres to intensively rotate and manage our pastures. The remaining acres are yet to be improved to be used in our farming management or are lowlands that are too wet to use most of the year. We have 3 main pasture areas, the North field, the South field and the pig pasture. Our fields are open and can be cut for hay. Our pig pasture is a mix of open pasture and small Aspen trees.
Now we are going to get down to what it really means on our farm.
- rotate through our south field, about 15 acres through the growing season
- they are moved 2 times a week, and have a 1/4 acre fenced in pasture
- they have mobile shelter that can move anywhere relatively flat on our farm
- they lay their eggs on pasture in a mobile nest coop
- their water is on a trailer that can move anywhere relatively flat on our farm
- the hens will only forage over the SAME ground twice during a growing season with about 3 months rest in between
- the only thing that is not mobile is our winter laying hen house, because we live in MN
- spend 2.5-3 weeks inside in a brooder with peat moss bedding
- at 2.5-3 weeks of age they move out onto pasture in our mobile range coops
- then we move them every day to fresh pasture until the day they are butchered
- once the pigs are trained to electric fence, we move them 1 time a week
- as they get older and bigger, we make their pasture area bigger to last 1 week
- their shelter is mobile and can move anywhere on the farm that is open
- their waterer is mobile and moves to each pasture set up
- their feeders are mobile and move to each pasture set up
Really it is up to you, the customer, to know what you are buying and from who. Talk to your farmer and ask questions. If you are buying from a large company, find out more about their policies. And buy from someone you trust.