“I come to work every day and have a good attitude. I’m glad to be a part of this team”, says James Mock, our Poultry Feed Distribution Officer.
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...
White Oak Pastures teamed up with the Savory Institute to present a Holistic Management workshop led by Spencer Smith. Spencer is a Savory Institute Accredited Field Professional and owner and operator of the Jefferson Center for Holistic Management.
The workshop lasted four days and included 17 participants from as far as Tennessee and Oklahoma. We split our time up between the classroom, the pasture, and the pavilion. Each participant received coaching from Spencer and created an individual grazing plan for their farm.
We are proud that our farm acts as a gathering place for members of the agricultural community interested in regenerative farming and holistic land management. Our workshop participants came from every stage of holistic management- from conventional farmers looking...
White Oak Pastures is full of passionate and innovative employees. A project started by our recent intern, Karen Cano, has continued on past her graduation from our internship program. Her independent experiment focused on developing a biofertilizer program on the farm. We have continued this project and are excited for long term incorporation of biofertilizer on the farm.
Below: Karen trains members of our poultry crew on creating different biofertilizer concentrations depending on the application they intend to use it for.
Our biofertilizer is an anaerobically fermented microbial solution made from the rumen of ruminants. We have made large batches of concentrated solution. Depending on the intended application, we have corresponding, specific dilution formulas....
Above: This fenceline demonstrates the stark difference between a pasture that was grazed (right) and a pasture left fallow (left). We own the right pasture and recently aquired the left. We look forward to increasing the bioproductivity and forage profile of the new pasture using all natural, animal impact.
Farming daily reminds us that we are part of nature, not separate from it. Particularly with our holistic, natural approach to land stewardship, we respect and work with the natural world. To this end, we must face the trials that come with a natural, pasture-based system, including the presence of natural predators. We cannot be with our animals 24/7 and depend heavily on our Livestock Guardian Dogs (LGDs) to protect our herds during the night.
White Oak Pastures has based our land stewardship on Savory Institute's Savannah paradigm. In this system, the ideal composition is 20% shade, 80% pasture. We are working with our Iberian and heritage hogs to create the farm’s 20% shade, silvopasture ecosystem. Our woody polyculture will include trees such as oak, pecan, fig, pear and olive trees. The tree density will be about 40 trees per acre. This is not a dense canopy and will allow sunshine to filter through so that our livestock can forage a pasture understory. The dehesa forests in Spain on which we hope to model our Iberian pastures have a tree density of 85-120/hectare.
Our Hog Production Manager Aaron Lorenz explains the specific role our pigs play in establishing savannah ecosystems:
" Hogs love fresh pasture and cool...