We also raise pastured meat animals – beef steers, pigs, chickens and ducks – for sale as individuals or on shares. Our pork and beef are typically sold in shares ranging from ½ to 1/8th of an animal, and we are currently taking deposits for shares for the fall butchering. We arrange for the butchering of the animal, and the customers can pick up their share from the butcher. The American Grassfed Association is a valuable resource for people interested in the environmental, animal welfare and health benefits of grass-fed, grass-finished meat.
Beef: Our beef herd is also Jersey, which is a slow-growing meat animal, but a good choice for us because of our focus on pasture and the health benefits for both animals and humans of grass-feeding and finishing. Jersey meat has long been recognized for being flavorful but has been ignored by big producers because the steers do not gain weight quickly, especially on grass (here’s another favorable taste test for grass fed meat, although not specifically Jersey). Our steers are about two years old when they are sold for butchering, rather than the one year that is common for a commercially raised Angus steer. The steers are raised on milk for the first 3-4 months of their lives and transition gradually to grass during that time. Our beef steers move around all year on pasture with the dairy cows, so you can read more about their pastures and feed on the dairy page.
Pork: We raise Tamworth pigs, a threatened heritage breed that is particularly adapted to grazing on pasture and foraging in woodlands. Our Tamworths are also a “slow meat”, taking over 18 months to mature, rather than the 9 months that commercial feeding operations achieve. The pigs share a 15-acre mixed pasture/woodlands with our chickens and ducks and, while they are fed some rolled barley and whole wheat each day, the bulk of their diet comes from foraging. They love the summer months, when there is plenty of fruit for them to find falling from the trees in the old homestead orchard and from the “hedgerows” on our field side of the Banks-Vernonia State Trail, which bisects our farm (and from which you can watch the pigs and piglets roaming and foraging).
Chicken: We butcher and sell individually the surplus roosters from our farm-hatched broods of chickens, and are also now raising Jersey Giant meat chickens, also a slower-growing heritage breed, to sell starting this autumn. Our meat and egg chickens flock together on pasture 365 days a year, so please see the “Eggs” page for more information about the chicken and duck pasture and nutrition. Our chickens run and flap a great deal, so their meat is lean and dark, and best suited for slow-cooking or marinated dishes. Because the chickens are outdoors and foraging daily, their meat is likely to be more nutritious than factory-farmed poultry.
Duck: We are currently raising Muscovy drakes to sell for meat (Barbary Duck) and should have animals ready to butcher and sell at the end of the summer. We are keeping our Muscovy hens as egg layers. Muscovy ducks are a great choice for our farm because they are adaptable to varying temperatures, have room to fly (even up to the roof of the barn!), and are capable foragers who grow to be large-bodied and lean, with firm, flavorful meat. People who have experienced duck meat as “muddy” or “gamey” should know that Muscovies are tree ducks, not pond ducks. They like to bathe in our duck water troughs and have access to a small stream, but spend most of their time on our farm foraging in the pasture, rather than primarily eating plants or animals from a water source. Our flock of over 60 Muscovies have all hatched from settings of eggs by our initial three mamas, who then carefully raised their ducklings and taught them how to forage – what great setters and mothers these Muscovies are!