In 2008, Jennifer Curtis and Tina Prevatte Levy, Co-Founders and Co-CEOs of Firsthand Foods, merged…
Rusty Collins, his wife, Amy, and daughter, Allison, raise Certified Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World (AGW) sheep at Collins Farm in Salisbury, North Carolina.
“I’ve been farming all of my life,” says Rusty. “I grew up on a small farm and we raised feeder pigs. I went to college at NC State, majored in animal science and now I work at a research station through the Department of Agriculture. I also have a farm at home where I raise Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW sheep.”
The Collins family manage Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW Katahdin sheep on 15 acres in Rowan County. “The farm is made up of approximately 13 acres of pasture and I rotationally graze about 20 ewes. The Katahdin breed is a good fit for our farm because they’re a hair sheep and they’re parasite resistant. I raise and market lamb through Firsthand Foods, and the carcass quality of the Katahdin sheep is also a really nice fit for their requirements.”
For Rusty, pasture-based production is a foundational part of his farm management practices. “Pasture-based management is easier on the sheep because they’re out grazing,” he explains. “The ewes lamb in the pasture, so the lambs do better. I’ve also found that the sheep are good for the quality of the pastures, too, improving the pastures. Ultimately, the most important thing is making sure we get a quality, healthy and high-welfare product to the consumer.”
Rusty chose to pursue AGW certification for his sheep because it is a requirement of the Firsthand Foods lamb network. He also sells lamb directly to customers and hopes his AGW certification will help open more doors to sell his high-quality, sustainably raised lamb.
Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW lamb from Collins Farm is available via the Firsthand Foods lamb line and directly from the farm. Check the AGW directory for more details. For more information about Collins Farm, contact Rusty at firstname.lastname@example.org.