Sorry its been so long... the farm is getting busier by the day and we have started working a little after supper, so my time at the computer is getting more and more limited. Here is the blog I promised Kim.
The other day Kim commented on my post about raw milk. In that comment she asked what seems to be a common question among visitors here at the farm. Here is her comment:
I have been looking for a source of raw milk to make butter, cheese etc. Many of the farmers around here do not sell it. At polyface to they grain anything? Are the chickens, pigs, cows exclusively on pasture? -Kim
As for not finding and source of raw milk thats too bad. I would wager a bet that the reason why many of the farmers around you do not sell it is because it is highly illegal in most states. Kim may already know this but the government has decided to protect you from the life giving, nutrient rich, immune boosting, great tasting, super safe, local, unpasteurized, unhomogenized, drink of God, RAW MILK. Thats right, you can go to jail, they can seize your product and equipment, and they can shut you down from making food for your wonderful and knowledgeable customers. In some states its actually illegal to press a glass of raw milk to your lips and drink it, let alone sell it.
To address the grain question...
Here on Polyface, the philosophy is to allow animals to express themselves to the fullest. We look at what an animal is designed to do and go from there. Here is a breakdown of that thought process for cattle, pigs, and chickens.
Cattle are herbivores and ruminants. They are designed to eat plant material (mostly grasses) and with the help of millions of microorganisms break it down into digestible materials. They are not designed to eat massive quantities of corn (or any grain for that matter) or meat products or chicken manure (yes that's what I said and some people feed it to cattle). They may get the occasional mouthful of a seed head, but not lbs and lbs of grain. (If you are interested in why its bad for cattle to eat grain, ask and I'll blog and link about it.) So here on Polyface, our cattle are grazed exclusively on pasture.
Pigs and Chickens
Pigs and Chickens are omnivores just like you and I. They were designed to eat all types of food: plant and animal. Most people think of grain when the question "What do pigs and chickens eat?" pops into their head. Unfortunately this is not the right train of thought. They eat so much more than just grains. If you are one of these people, next time you should think "They eat: grain, grass (and other plants), roots, bugs, flesh (scavenged or killed), nuts, and anything else you may eat. So here on Polyface we allow these animals to collects what they need from the pasture and then supplement them with a grain based ration.