The North Carolina Natural Hog Growers Association (NCNHGA) is seeking natural hog growers to supply the growing demand for pastured pork. NCNHGA is a farmer-owned marketing cooperative aimed at successfully marketing hogs raised outdoors without the use of antibiotics, growth promotants or animal byproducts. Current markets include national grocery outlets, local restaurants, and other whole cut retailers. All members are required to be Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) before joining. Please contact Tim Holmes of AWA directly with certification questions (252-796-8079). An informational session will be held June 19, 2010 in eastern North Carolina for those interested in joining the cooperative. Contact NCNGHA President Jeremiah Jones at 910-290-2547 for meeting details or additional information about NCNHGA membership. Animal Welfare Approved is a free certification for family farms raising their animals outdoors on pasture or range. AWA provides marketing and technical support to farmers in the program. For more information visit www.AnimalWelfareApproved.org.
Lorna and Chris Church raise Certified Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World (AGW) pigs outdoors on pasture at their farm, Grassy Gnome Acres, in Coldstream, British Columbia, Canada.
Lorna grew up on a cattle ranch, and Chris in a rural town surrounded by farms. “After living in Vernon for a number of years, we both knew that we wanted to raise our children in a more farm-like setting and were excited to grow food for ourselves, as well as others,” explains Lorna. “Our initial search for a 5-acre piece of land ended with us moving to a 65-acre farm, and diving in as farmers.”
The Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW pigs at Grassy Gnome Acres are raised outdoors on pasture or range, where they have room to roam and demonstrate natural behaviors like wallowing, rooting and grazing. They are regularly moved to fresh ground to avoid the build-up of disease and parasites, and to prevent excessive damage to the soil. This type of management results in better animal, environmental and human health–as well as producing delicious pork!
“We have come to love raising pigs, not just for the delicious food they produce, but for their personalities and the joy in raising them,” says Lorna. “We currently have 6 sows: 3 purebred Berkshire sows, and 3 Berkshire/Duroc/Landrace cross sows. We farrow twice per year, finishing some of the pigs on our farm and others we sell as feeder pigs to other Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW farms.”
The farm chose to become Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW because it reflected their high-welfare practices. “The pigs are on pasture year-round, rotated from field-to-field along with their movable huts, where they are free to root, wallow and stroll about,” says Lorna. “Even in winter we are always surprised at how far they wander through the snow, following us around, as long as the snow doesn’t get deeper than their bellies! We are always striving to improve our products, learning what breeds work well in our environment and how to achieve the best final product.”
Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW pasture-raised pork from Grassy Gnome Acres is sold through their partner farm, Vale Farms Grassroots, and is available in bulk (half or whole pig) or in smaller variety packs. Order online at valefarms.com or call 1-866-567-2300.