I think in all of our blogs I have mentioned how passionate we are about what we do on our farm. We truly believe that an animal, regardless of the breed or type, should be handled with a gentle hand, a tender heart, love and respect. We have had our Certified Humane Raised and Handled certificate since we have opened our doors about two years ago. Being certified humane is something very important to us not only because of how we treat our hogs but it is a third party verification supporting what we do. We are extremely proud to be able to say we hold a Humane Certification.
- They are an organization whose goal is to improve the welfare and lives of all farm animals. They do so by setting high standards, conducting thorough farm inspections on a yearly basis, therefore certifying the farms humane treatment.
- Being Certified Humane and Handled not only shows people the care and treatment that occurs on a farm, but it also reassures the consumer they are receiving a product with out any additional hormones or antibiotics. It gives the farmer a distinct advantage over his competitors, because
- Under this certification, all farm animal experience minimal to no stress at all stages of their lives. That means they are processed in a humane was as well. For more information on humane processing, place read Animal Welfare and Humane Slaughter. This is Temple Grandin’s website, she helped pioneer the field of humanely handling livestock.
2. Certified Organic
- While researching possible certification labels, there are multiple Organic ones. They differ from each region of the United States and each certification has different requirements; however, in the United States federal legislation outlines three levels of Organic foods. First being 100% Organic- “products made with 100% ingredients and methods”. Products made with ” at least 95% organic ingredients can be labeled ‘organic”. Both of those products can carry the USDA Organic Seal. Lastly products made with “a minimum of 70% organic ingredients can be labeled made with organic ingredients.
- When a hog is raised organically they also have to be humanely processed.
- I didn’t know there were different categories of organic, I thought you were or weren’t organic. Now you can see how “organic” can be used by a producer to make their product seem more Organic then they really are to the consumer.
- http://organicconsumers.org/btc/BuyingGuide.cfm this is a wonderful tool to use to find Organic products in your area.
3. Cage Free
- Cage free applies to hens and eggs. A cage free hen, is a chicken that is not raised in a cage but in an open floor plan type building. The type of building is usually a barn or warehouse and the chickens have soft flooring of cedar shavings or hay. They are also given perches and boxes used for nesting to lay their eggs. Along with laying their eggs in a nest, these hens are able to spread their wings and walk around. These types of hens are not raised in a cage, however they can be raised in congested quarters and are unable to go outside. How congested it gets all depends on the farm and the practices that farmer follows.
- Cage free doesn’t necessarily mean “cruelty free”. When we see a dozen eggs that states “cage free”, we automatically think of happy chickens running around a green pasture enjoying everything that nature as to give. I thought that and I know I am not alone. Cage free and confinement hens can have their peaks burned off, go through a very long and stressful transportation to the processing plant and are extremely young when this occurs.
- “Cage free does not mean cruelty free”
4. Pasture Raised
- Pasture raised animals are raised in large paddocks or pastures. They are either on grass, wood lots (forest) or a mix of both. We have found that a mix of the two pastures raise the best hogs; they not rut up the grass and grubs but they also find nuts and berries. For us and many farmers, this is the best way to raise hogs. They are minimally supplemented and are able to flourish and enjoy what nature has to offer.
- In the paddocks, the hogs have range huts and trees for protection against the sun and climate. Even though we believe this is the best way to raise hogs, it is very time consuming. In order to maintain hogs that are pasture raised, you need to rotate your pastures to let the field rest; to essentially let nature regrown. If you don’t do this, your lush pasture will turn into a dry lot. Dry lots are dirt paddocks that do not offer a hog any natural nutrition and they occur when a farmer does not have the space for his operation or doesn’t rotate their animals.
- When our sows are due to farrow (deliver their piglets) they instinctually want to make a nest out of what they find in nature. This is not to say that they do not use the farrowing huts that are available to them, it all depends upon the sow. For example, one of our sows made her nest out of a pricker bush, another made hers out of an old tree and leaves and the third used the farrowing hut. All three offer a safe, secure and warm location for her piglets. I am comfortable going into a paddock to feed the hogs and my favorite ones are the sows with their piglets, they dart and weave around you and the sows come up get their back rubbed. However, I would not get between a sow and her piglets within the first week to ten days after she farrows!
My family and I eat pork, meat, chicken and eggs, always have, always will. However, before we started Circle B Ranch, we did and continue to do, a lot of reading on animal welfare and raising an animal in the most humane way as possible. We have not bought an animal product in years from a producer that could not verify how they raise and process their animals. Just because we enjoy an omelet in the morning, a steak sandwich for lunch and a pork chop for dinner, does not mean I want to expose my family or myself to unneeded antibiotics or hormones. It is extremely unnecessary and we hope that our customers will become as passionate or more about where their food comes from!