Nathan W. Drager raises Certified Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World (AGW) beef cattle at Drager Farms, LLC in Marietta, Pennsylvania. Nathan grew up on a 200-acre conventional dairy farm in the same area and he now farms on 50 acres purchased from his family. Being immersed in farming culture all of his life, it was no surprise he decided to return to his roots after a brief stint in carpentry work after high school: “I don’t see farming as a job,” he says. “It’s a joy to raise cattle.”
Nathan raises 35 head of cattle at Drager Farms; some mixed breed, but mostly Black Angus. The herd is also Certified Grassfed by AGW, the first—and only—food label in the U.S. and Canada that guarantees food products come from animals fed a 100 percent grass and forage diet, and raised entirely outdoors on pasture or range. Nathan says, “Cows love to graze, and they’re a lot happier and healthier outside.” He hopes to breed cattle on-farm and select for certain traits, including the ability to thrive off grass and maintain good body condition on pasture.
Nathan feels lucky to have learned about the Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW program. When he read the farm standards, he was happy to see he had already utilized many of the strategies in his management approach. “But if you would have asked me 10 years ago if I’d be raising and finishing cattle on grass, I would have laughed!” he adds. Unfortunately, raising feeding cattle on pasture has not yet become prevalent in his area of Pennsylvania, but Nathan is hoping to be a part of the change in farming practices. He believes that becoming Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW will not only provide a better understanding for his customers about animal welfare and the true cost of the foods we eat, but also help to promote responsible agriculture to other farmers in the area.
Nathan plans to continue building his operation by increasing the amount of hay produced on-farm and slowly growing his herd. But one aspect of farming where he’s still very much learning is the marketing side, which is another reason Nathan is thankful for AGW. He hopes to apply the many marketing strategies offered by AGW and increase his business in the process: “I am currently selling cuts of meat on my online platform for pickup at the farm, and also to a local restaurant, the Railroad House Inn,” he says. “But I am hoping to sell whole, half or quarter options direct to customers, as I am currently doing for the restaurant.”
Drager Farms’ Certified Grassfed by AGW, Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW beef is available online at dragerfarms.com. Drager Farms’ beef is also seasonally prepared by the kitchen at Railroad House Inn restaurant: railroadhouseinn.com. Follow Drager Farms on Facebook at: facebook.com/DragerFarms.