Why Pasture Raised?
Truly sustainable livestock farming requires the use of a pasture-based system. Pasture-raised animals roam freely in their natural environment where they're able to eat nutritious grasses and other plants that their bodies are adapted to digest. In addition to dramatically improving the welfare of farm animals, pasturing also helps reduce environmental damage, and yields meat, eggs, and dairy products that are tastier and more nutritious than foods produced in more intensive production systems.Poultry are originally forest dwelling species. We notice that our birds often prefer the mixed woodland/grassland habitat, not only for the cover from aerial predators and the hot Okanagan sun but also for the mix of insects and vegetation that grow there.
Animal Health Benefits
On pasture, chickens get about 15-20% of their diet from the grass and forage (other plants) and get additional vitamins and protein from eating insects. The majority of their diet is from grain and oilseeds but they obviously enjoy eating the live plants and insects. It is fun to watch them “stalk” a grasshopper and they are greatly excited when they get a worm!
Animals raised on pasture enjoy a much higher quality of life than those confined within intensive production systems. When raised on open pasture, animals are able to move around freely and carry out their natural behaviors. This lifestyle is impossible to achieve in intensive production systems, where thousands of animals are raised in confined facilities, often without access to sufficient fresh air or any sunlight. These conditions may easily become a breeding ground for bacteria and the animals frequently become ill, so intensive production farms routinely treat with antibiotics to prevent outbreaks of disease. We haven't used antibiotics since our first year.
Human Health Benefits
A growing body of research indicates that pasture-raised meat, eggs, and dairy products are better for consumers’ health than conventionally-raised, grain-fed foods. In addition to being lower in calories and total fat, pasture-raised foods have higher levels of vitamins, and a healthier balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fats than conventional meat and dairy products. Free-range chickens have 21% less total fat, 30% less saturated fat and 28% fewer calories than their factory-farmed counterparts.
Pasture-based systems can help the environment, especially through fertilizing the soil and by reducing the amount of grain produced as feed. Pasture-based systems take advantage of the animal’s ability to feed itself and spread its own manure, unlike intensive production systems which rely on large amounts of fossil fuel to truck feed and animal waste. Keeping Small Farmers in Business
When you buy pastured meat, you're not only taking a step to safeguard your health, protect the environment, and improve animal wellbeing, you're also supporting sustainable farming and the farmers who choose to practice it. Small, local family farmers are invaluable members of rural communities and play a key role as stewards of the land.
Cooking Pastured Meat and Eggs
Keep in mind that the consistency, texture, colour and flavours of food from pasture-raised animals differ from those of intensively produced foods. Pasture-raised chickens contain less fat and water and lend themselves best to roasting, grilling, or slow simmering, not quick sautéing. The biggest difference that our customers
notice is the flavour but second is the meat density and lack of water.
Pasture-raised chickens grow more slowly and are older at slaughter (56-65 days)
than their intensively raised cousins (39-42 days).
• California State Senate, “Confined Animal Facilities in California.” State of California, November 2004.
• Owens, F.N.,
D.S. Secrist, et al. “ Acidosis in Cattle: A Review .” Journal of Animal Science
. Vol. 76, 1 p 275-286. 1992.
• Dhiman, Tilak R. "Factors Affecting
Conjugated Linoleic Acid Content in Milk and Meat" Critical Reviews in Food
Science and Nutrition 45 (2005), pp. 463-82: 467-68.
• Ibid, 472.
• Smith, Margaret, Mary Swalla and Jim Ennis. “Literature Review of Consumer Research, Publications, and Marketing Communications Related to Pasture-Raised Animal Products and Production Systems.” Iowa State University, Iowa InterFaith
Ministries and Midwest Food Alliance. Accessed July 2004.
• Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE). “Pastured Poultry Products: Summary.” SARE. 1999.
• Robinson, Jo. Why Grass-fed is Best: The Surprising Benefits of Grass-fed Meat, Eggs, and Dairy Products. Vashion, WA: Vashion Island Press.
2000, p 43.
• Nagaraja, T.G. and M.M. Chengappa. " Liver Abscesses in Feedlot Cattle: A Review.” Journal of Animal Science. Vol. 76, 1. p 287-298. 1998.
Robinson, Jo. Why Grass-fed is Best: The Surprising Benefits of Grass-fed Meat, Eggs, and Dairy Products. Vashion, WA: Vashion Island Press.
Information Adapted From:
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