The North Carolina Natural Hog Growers Association (NCNHGA) is seeking natural hog growers to supply the growing demand for pastured pork. NCNHGA is a farmer-owned marketing cooperative aimed at successfully marketing hogs raised outdoors without the use of antibiotics, growth promotants or animal byproducts. Current markets include national grocery outlets, local restaurants, and other whole cut retailers. All members are required to be Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) before joining. Please contact Tim Holmes of AWA directly with certification questions (252-796-8079). An informational session will be held June 19, 2010 in eastern North Carolina for those interested in joining the cooperative. Contact NCNGHA President Jeremiah Jones at 910-290-2547 for meeting details or additional information about NCNHGA membership. Animal Welfare Approved is a free certification for family farms raising their animals outdoors on pasture or range. AWA provides marketing and technical support to farmers in the program. For more information visit www.AnimalWelfareApproved.org.
Owner Robert Grey and farm manager, Blake Brown, raise Certified Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World (AGW) laying hens and pigs at Whippoorwill Farm in Washington, Virginia. The 700-acre farm consists of mountain pastures and woodlands, with fresh springs that feed a 20-acre lake. In addition to managing the Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW pigs and laying hens at Whippoorwill Farm, Blake also looks after a herd of beef cattle and fruit orchards.
The flock of Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW laying hens at Whippoorwill Farm is raised outdoors on pasture, a foundational component of AGW certification, where they can perform natural behaviors like running, dust bathing, pecking and scratching for grubs and seeds. This type of management not only provides the highest welfare conditions for the hens, but also produces healthier eggs containing three times as much vitamin E, seven times more beta-carotene, and twice the omega-3 fatty acids as industrial eggs.
In addition to the flock of laying hens, Blake also manages a herd of Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW American Guinea Hogs and Mangalitsa pigs. “Our pigs are naturally born and raised here on the farm on pasture and have access to the woods where they can forage and root for acorns, wild pears, berries, persimmons and other forbs, as well as insects, snakes and earthworms,” says Blake. This high-welfare, outdoor management is known to have environmental, nutritional and culinary benefits. “Both breeds are what is considered a lard hog, which means that the meat has much more flavor than meat from other breeds,” explains Blake. “These breeds are considered to be the ‘Kobe’ of pork and are sought after by fine dining chefs who want to impress. The meat is red and marbled like beef and richer in healthy fats. These are what is considered ‘slow food,’ often taking up to two years to get to the proper size—but it’s more than worth the wait!”
Robert and Blake are proud of their new AGW certification and hope it will help them communicate their farming practices to their customers: “Our mission is to provide people with the healthiest, tastiest food possible while being good stewards to the land through rotational grazing management,” Blake adds.
Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW pasture-raised chicken eggs and pork is available directly from the farm through Whippoorwill Farm’s CSA, pork shares and sausage shares. For more information, visit www.whippoorwillfarmtotable.com, stay up to date on the latest goings-on through the farm’s Facebook page or contact Blake Brown at email@example.com or 540-987-5034.