Armin and Amanda Lieth raise Certified Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World (AGW) pigs and beef cattle at Beechrest Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. A native of Germany, Armin has a family farming heritage that dates back over 400 years. In addition to his family’s farming history, Armin’s pasture-based farm management is influenced by his undergraduate degree in horticulture and his master’s degree in environmental science. After working as business entrepreneurs for the last 25 years, Armin and Amanda are now focused on sustainable, pasture-based farming at Beechcrest Farm.
Located just 10 miles west of Chapel Hill, Beechcrest Farm consists of 185 acres of well-managed pasture and woodland. When Armin and Amanda acquired the land in the mid-1990s there were just 3 acres of usable pasture on the property. Over the last 15 years, they have carefully created more than 40 acres of additional species-rich pasture at Beechcrest Farm. The mile-long driveway is named Blissenbach, a nod to the family’s German land of the same name, and the house, barns, well houses and all outbuildings have been built in the German ‘fachwerke’ style. The farm includes two barns (both constructed out of timber from the farm), a riding arena, trails and over 50 acres of pasture where Armin and Amanda rotationally manage their horses and Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW pigs and cattle.
The pigs at Beechcrest Farm are Tamworth/Yorkshire/Berkshire crosses and are ideally suited to pasture-based systems: “These traditional breeds are a good fit for our farm for the easy keepers they are, as well as their impressive and quick weight gain,” Amanda explains. “They also do an amazing job helping clear the land of brush and weeds.” The pigs have constant access to ranging and foraging areas and are frequently moved to fresh ground to prevent the build-up of potential disease and parasites.
Armin and Amanda also manage a herd of Gelbvieh beef cattle, one of the oldest German cattle breeds, originating in Bavaria in southern Germany. Gelbvieh cattle were introduced to the U.S. in the 1970s, and the breed is widely recognized for its high fertility, easy calving, superior mothering abilities and docile temperament. The cattle perform well outdoors on pasture, making them a good fit for rotational, pasture-based production systems. “Rotating animals on pasture ensures that different grasses and weeds are kept in check and consumed. The land and animals benefit equally from this practice,” says Amanda.
Armin and Amanda chose to pursue AGW certification because the third-party verification aligned with their high-welfare and sustainable farm management practices. “Since we knew from day one we were going to raise the animals in a way that matched AGW’s farm standards anyway, asking for this verification seemed quite natural,” says Amanda. The Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW logo also assures Beechcrest Farm’s customers that they are purchasing a high-quality, high-welfare product, something important to Armin and Amanda. “We hope that getting a formal certification demonstrates to the public that we are committed to raising all the animals on the farm to according to the highest standards,” says Amanda. “At any time, folks can come out and see for themselves what they are eating and how it has been raised.”
In the future, Armin and Amanda plan to establish more pastures and improve the visitor facilities at Beechcrest Farm: “We are also in the planning phase of building an on-farm processing facility for our beef and pork products,” says Amanda. “Stay tuned!”
Beechcrest Farm’s Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW pork and beef is available for purchase directly from the farm (please call for an appointment). For more information about Beechcrest Farm, including farm tours, visit www.beechcrestfarm.com or contact Armin and Amanda Lieth at firstname.lastname@example.org and 919-636-2822.