Charles Taft raises Certified Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World (AGW) sheep and laying hens in the foothills of North Carolina. He has been raising sheep for over two decades, but was introduced to the St Croix hair sheep breed 11 years ago by The Livestock Conservancy. “I was attracted to the concept of preserving an endangered breed and started my breeding flock of St. Croix hair sheep in 2006,” Charles explains. “Since that time we have had over 260 registered new lambs, which we sell to other farms to establish new flocks.” A flock of 60 St. Croix sheep now grazes the farm’s pastures. The breed is particularly suitable for small family farms. The St. Croix hair sheep requires no shearing and has good natural parasite resistance and the ewes are attentive mothers.
Charles also raises a flock of 90 Delaware and Araucana chickens for egg production. These breeds are selected for their ability to thrive in pasture-based systems and are rotated throughout the farm in mobile chicken coops. Both the sheep and chickens provide good fertilizer for the pastures and garden.
Stauber Farm is on the National Historic Register as an historic site. Samuel Stauber, a Moravian farmer, built his house on the site in 1852 and farmed the area until his death in 1884. During this time his farm grew to over 800 acres. Presently 70 acres of the original farm remain in forest land and pasture, with outbuildings including a smokehouse, barn, granary, and cabin. A large garden and blueberries and blackberries are behind the farm house.
Charles says that one of his areas of focus is keeping pastures in good condition for quality forage production, ensuring the sheep and chickens have access to the most nutritious grasses. He appreciates the AGW certification for the educational and marketing benefits: “AGW has helped educate me in good practices in managing my animals, and certification will help me with marketing my farm and the healthy food we are proud to raise.”