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...
We are trying a new type of weaning this year: wean rings. This is a plastic ring that clips inside the calf’s nose like a clip-on earring. We think wean rings are the least stressful and most natural way to wean. When the calf tries to nurse its mother, the ring’s spiky points make it uncomfortable for the mamma to nurse her calf. She’ll then initiate the weaning process. These rings may look drastic, but they are safe and cannot hurt the mamma cow. Our calves are still able to have all the physical contact that they want with their mammas. They can still nuzzle, follow around, and get licked on by their mammas.