Doing Things Differently
We were recently asked at one of the farmers markets we attend, “what makes your meat different”. It got us thinking about what we do differently.
All of our laying hens, meat chickens and turkeys are raised outside on grass in the late spring, summer and early fall. They live in shelters that are enclosed on three sides and has an open covered range attached to the open side of the shelter. This allows the chickens and turkeys to find their comfort zone between range and shelter. We cover the ranges with tin roofs for three reasons. It helps keep the chickens safe by preventing the aerial predators (hawks, eagles and owls) from preying on them, it gives them additional shade on the hot days and keeps their range dryer for them during rain. Weather permitting these shelters and ranges are moved every day onto fresh grass so that they have access to new grass, bugs and grubs. We do not move the shelters when it is raining heavily as poultry do not like to be wet and we would not want to move them from dry onto cool sopping wet ground. These shelters are surrounded by electric netting in order to keep the skunks, foxes and coyotes away from the shelters. Our chickens, hens and turkeys are fed certified organic feed year round. This means that the grains in the feed have not had any chemical pesticides, herbicides or fungicides applied to them and are all non-GMO. We also add alfalfa meal (organic alfalfa grass that has been harvested at peak nutrition, dried and then crumbled into meal) to the feed year round so that even during a drought in the summer and when they are inside in the winter they receive their greens. In the winter the birds are raised in warm barns that have windows to let in the sunshine. We give them lots of room to move around and express their natural behaviors. We add fresh bedding every few days to make sure they are always in a clean and dry environment. Our poultry are processed here on the farm in our own on farm processing plant.
Our pigs are raised outside in movable shelters that are moved every day onto the fresh grass. These have protection from the sun and rain and fresh water piped right to them. When it is time for pigs to farrow (give birth) we move them inside to a heated area where they are given a large area to move around in. We move them inside so we can watch them closely and also to eliminate the chance of bad weather hurting the newborn piglets. We never use farrowing crates and our sows are never confined in their movement before or after giving birth. In the winter we move them to their winter area where they have access to both a warm indoor space and an open outdoor range that has straw added to it.
Our cows are never in a feedlot and are 100% grass fed and finished. In the spring, summer, and fall our cattle are moved every day onto our organic fresh grass. This is a method called time controlled grazing. It allows us to provide fresh grass for the cattle daily, while we use the cattle to improve the soil and the grass. It creates a wonderful symbiotic relationship where the grass feed the cattle and the cattle feed and improve the grass. In the winter the cattle are moved to winter pasture where they are given windbreaks and lots of organic straw to bed down in to stay warm and dry. They are fed organic hay twice a day and organic alfalfa pellets.
We also cut and package all our own meat, as well as make all of our own sausages, bacons and deli meats in our meat cutting and sausage making facility here on the farm. All of our sausages, deli meat and bacons do not contain any preservatives, fillers (no gluten, dairy, eggs or soy), and are nut free. They are made of just our own organic meat, organic spices and when needed, for a bit of sweetness, organic honey or maple syrup.
Every year on the Labour Day Monday in September we invite our customers out to see our farm. On this day they are able to walk the pasture and see how we raise our animals. They can look through the barn windows and see the chicks, they can walk up to the cattle in the pasture and see the chickens and the pigs in their outdoor shelters.
These are just a few of the many things that make us different from many of the farms in Canada. We are proud of how we raise our animals and are committed to continue to do things differently
- Sunworks Farm