Many people are unaware that 80% of all antimicrobial drugs are administered to animals. Unfortunately, this fact shouldn’t come as much of a surprise; the Union of Concerned Scientists provided the same stat ten years ago in the 2001 report, Hogging It: Estimates of Antimicrobial Use in Livestock. Of course, industry has since ignored and/or rejected this figure every chance they’ve had. But despite the best efforts of Agribiz, as this week’s press release from Congresswoman Louise Slaughter reports, the FDA has officially confirmed the 80% figure; check it out. I should note that our friend Ralph Loglisci of the Johns Hopkins University Center for a Livable Future contacted the FDA back in December and was given the same numbers (he wrote an excellent post about this, which is absolutely worth reading). Nonetheless, it seems significant that the antibiotics stats have been released to and publicized by a congressperson. Very official, we think – and hopefully capable of capturing the nation’s attention.
MaLea Easterly, a third-generation farmer, spent most of her time growing up on her Grandma’s farm surrounded by livestock and horses. Today, along with her husband, Mark, she raises Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) hogs on a 16-acre property called Mount Hope Heritage Farm in Lebanon, Oregon.
MaLea and Mark provide their hogs with continuous access to pasture and regularly move the herd to fresh ground. This rotational management reduces the buildup of parasites and disease, improves the health of the hogs and minimizes the risk of excessive damage to the soil. Raising hogs outdoors on pasture allows for a more natural approach, and the animals have plenty of room to demonstrate natural behaviors like wallowing, grazing and rooting with their snouts.
MaLea selected a variety of hog breeds—including the Large Black, Hereford, Berkshire and Tamworth—for their feed efficiency, conformation, disposition, maternal instincts, foraging ability and hardiness. She provides her hogs with “food plots” to encourage their grazing habits and distract the hogs from rooting too much. “After three years of rotation, our pastures have never looked better and we have our hogs to thank for that!” says MaLea. “It is our belief to give every one of our hogs the best possible life and in return they bless us with the best tasting pork.”
The farms’ goal is to help bring about the end of factory farming by encouraging other farmers to raise hogs without crates or confinement, while providing the finest, naturally raised, environmentally friendly pork to local customers. “This is no hobby. It’s our lifestyle and we are passionate about the health and welfare of our hog family,” says, MaLea.
Gaining AWA certification was important for MaLea because the program provides independent verification of her high-welfare management practices: “It is such an honor to become Animal Welfare Approved. It is our hope to continue to learn and grow, and raise awareness among other farmers that pastured hogs not only survive, they thrive! If you take care of your herd, they truly will take care of you.”
Mount Hope Heritage Farm’s AWA whole or half pig shares and registered breeding stock are available directly from the farm. For information on availability, contact MaLea and Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org and 541-619-5307. For more information about their farm, visit oregonheritagehogs.com and their Facebook Page.