At Heritage Farm, we raise healthy and happy pastured pigs. They receive lots of fresh air, bright sunlight, sparkling fresh water, and ample area to run and root. Our animals are not given antibiotics unless doing so would save it’s life. To this date, we have never once had an animal so sick that it required medications. We feed them a commercial ration that is mixed up from a local feed mill. We supplement the feed with kelp meal and diatomaceous earth ourselves.
We buy piglets from local farms soon after they have been weaned. They are then brought to our farm and made right at home.. We have found and support a number of other local farmers who have magnificent breeding facilities. We go out of our way to find breeders that align with our standards of quality, health, and humanness for their animals. They must have wood lots or pastures to get out onto, fresh water, be friendly and display a healthy relationship with people. Happy pigs make better bacon.
We love heritage breed pigs like the Large Blacks, Tamworths, Durocs, and Berkshires. However, we have also raised amazingly tasty “white pigs”. Mostly the Landrace or Yorkshire breeds. In fact though, most breeders have a selection of a few different breeds in order to capitalize on the health and growth benefits of hybrid vigor via selective breeding. Most often our pigs are a motley crew of blacks, reds, whites, spots, and other funky designs. The breed is only a part of the equation. The environment they are grown in has a massive effect on the end product, and our animals come out simply amazing. Melt in your mouth amazing.
We rotate our animals through several outdoor pens during the seasons. They have unlimited opportunities to bury their snouts and faces neck deep in rich earth as they search for bugs, grubs, nuts, seeds, and critters. We rotate them whenever possible to place them under natural forest food crops such as acorns, beaked hazelnut, berries of all kinds, and apples. We often plant pumpkins and squash for treats as well, and constantly get folks donating old vegetables.(One of the reasons we are not certified Organic is because of this reason. Being certified would limit our ability to recycle and utilize perfectly healthy and nutritious food sources) The pigs are also supplemented with brewer’s grains from two local wineries, as well as milk and dairy products from the grass-fed dairy up the road from us.
Our animals are butchered by a local butcher shop. They have an amazing facility and always handle our hogs superbly. They handle all of the processing for us. Including cutting, wrapping, slicing the bacons, smoking the hams and bacons, making sausages and ground pork, vacuum sealing all packages, freezing, and clearly labeling all pieces. It’s so great to work so closely with such great partners in our farming community, and bring that to you as well.
If there’s one thing we like around here more than bacon, it’s fresh, wholesome pastured poultry. Our meat chickens are nearly free range. We use portable, movable, Salatin style pens to ensure that they have maximum access to rejuvenative sunlight, fresh country air, and bugs in every shape and size. You may be surprised, but our chickens actually eat a rather large volume of grasses and forbs. Especially the tender clovers. Our pens are moved daily, and sometimes twice a day depending on the time of year, age of the birds, weather conditions, and health of the soil. It’s a satisfying image watching the feathered friends devour the dew laden clover in the morning.
Each year, we buy our chicks from the hatchery. They arrive at our farm as day old chicks and we pick them up at the local post office. They are brought home and my young son and I carefully and quickly dip their little chick beaks into the waterer and feed. This lets them associate where it’s at, and then they are moved under the heat lamps to adjust and stretch out. It doesn’t take long before the have full bellies, a quenched thirst, and their loud cheeps subside to a low chirp as the stretch out under the heat lamps and get some rest.
After a few weeks in the brooder house the birds begin to feather out and become more resilient to fluctuating springtime weather conditions. Around four to five weeks, depending on weather and the chicks progress, they are moved into movable pens in the pastures. In this new home they will live another 6-8 weeks. They are moved everyday, and often twice as they get larger towards the end. The last trip they take is from the fields to a farm up the road with wonderful facilities and can handle all of our birds. They come completely cleaned, plucked, packaged in vacuum sealed bags, labeled, and frozen as whole birds. You’ll be hard pressed to find a tastier bird around.
Most people are familiar with the Cornish Cross meat birds that have become with grass based farmers. We certainly have raised them, and will do so again in the future, as they are a absolutely delicious bird. More and more however we lean towards the Freedom Ranger breed of chickens. Not only does the bird just sound patriotic and marvelous, but they simply out perform anything else out there. These birds take a little longer to raise on pasture than the Cornish Cross, but exhibit hardly any of the health issue associated with Cornish Cross. They are by no means couch potatoes. They are just as active and lively as our laying hens. The only delicate thing on these birds is their meat when it comes out of the oven.