This "National Eagle Day", and with the 4th of July just around the corner, we want to provide an update about a very American symbol, who has made a home on our farm: the bald eagles at White Oak Pastures.Around 2010, we introduced chickens to our farm, starting with a small flock of 500. Soon after, we added other poultry - ducks, turkeys, geese, and guinea hens, as well as thousands of more chickens. Soon after that, another kind of bird - bald eagles - was spotted on our farm.
We love hosting workshops at White Oak Pastures, because, well, we love company. You may have been to one of them, like pastured poultry, valued added goods, and pasture remediation. We've done a lot of hyper-focused workshops - but this June, we're trying something different.
This time, you get the whole dang farm.
The Prescribed Grazing Workshop, coming up June 1st, is designed to be a producer-focused, bird's-eye view of our farm and pasture operations. We're taking the managers from all the departments on the farm who have something to do with pasture, and putting them all in one room.
(As you can imagine with a farm with a whole lot of acres and goings on, it's rare to actually have everyone in the same room.)
With Thanksgiving and Christmas behind us, I begin reflecting on the year that has come and gone. There are always things I wish I had accomplished, but also those projects for which I’m proud to have completed. This valuable reflection allows me the opportunity to set goals (or resolutions) for the New Year. I hope while you all are planning your resolutions, you’ll consider making the commitment to only eat pasture-raised meats and poultry. I’ve put together my Top 5 Reasons below; however, there are even more reasons than any of us could possibly count.
Now let's discuss the livestock side of managed grazing. At White Oak Pastures, we are doing managed grazing in a way that moves animals through the pasture in appropriate stocking densities. "Stocking densities" means the appropriate number of animals per acre. We move them at a certain rate so they are not overgrazing.
We receive 4200 day-old chicks from our hatchery each week. Before hatching, chicks absorb their remaining egg yolk into their abdomen. The absorbed yolk provides several days of nutrition once the chick hatches. This is key for shipping day-old chicks because they do not need nourishment while they travel. When the chicks arrive at our farm, they are immediately transferred into our brooders. We have worked hard to prepare the brooders for their arrival. Everything is in order, newly cleaned, and cozy.
The breed we raise, the Red Ranger, is an extremely mobile bird. This quality has its pros and cons. The birds grow at a slower rate because they are very active. “In allowing it to go wherever it wants, it runs off into the pasture and burns some serious calories. It's getting vitamins, minerals, and plant secondary metabolites from foraging in the pasture. But being further from the ideal feed source, it will not quickly get plump”, says Jeff Lackey, our Poultry Production Manager. Because our birds are athletes, we have put together cooking tips for their leaner, healthier meat. A benefit of the Red Ranger’s active disposition is its significant and visible impact on our pastures. They are very thorough grazers and scratchers. As our birds disturb the surface of the pasture, they...