James Matthews and his brother Craig raise Certified Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World (AGW) and Certified Non-GMO by AGW hogs at C & J Farms in Roseboro, North Carolina. “I’ve been farming my whole life in Sampson County,” says James. “We have a 100-acre farm that was my great grandaddy’s land, and it has been in the family since the late 1800s. I also lease cropland and farm 1,000-1,200 acres of grain, including wheat, soybeans and corn. It’s been in the last couple of years that we started raising pigs.”
The pigs at C & J Farms are raised outdoors on pasture or range, where they are free to root and forage as pigs naturally do. This high-welfare management is a fundamental component of AWA certification and is known to have environmental, nutritional and culinary benefits. “Right now, I’ve got 20 sows and a boar—so about 70 head of pigs at any one time,” says James. “Our boar is a Hampshire and the sows are a mix of Duroc and Chester White and Duroc and Landrace. I’m raising these particular breeds because we should get the best meat quality out of them, and they all do well in outdoor systems.”
For James and Craig, pasture and range-based management is an important part of their animal husbandry practices: “It seems to me that pigs raised outdoors don’t have the same disease pressure and sickness as pigs raised in confinement systems, and they do better. There aren’t as many in one area as there are in a finishing house,” James says. “Outdoors, they can root, they can be pigs and do what pigs do. They can’t be pigs in the house.” The other important aspect of his animal husbandry is making sure the hogs are comfortable and well taken care of. “I try to keep them as comfortable as I possibly can—especially making sure they’ve got shade and water,” says James. “I keep their wallows full so they can cool off. I also just think, ‘How would I feel if I was out there?’ and try to make it as natural and comfortable for them as I can.”
C & J Farms is a member of the North Carolina Natural Hog Growers Association, a pioneering cooperative of AGW-certified hog producers who sell to restaurants, retailers and food processors throughout the region. This was one of the main reasons he chose to pursue AGW- certification, as it is a requirement in order to sell through the cooperative. James also recognizes the AGW certifications will help with marketing and selling of pork to customers in the region.
For more information about C & J Farms, contact James Matthews at 910-590-5821.