Why Pastured Pork?

So what is pastured pork?  Maybe you've heard of pastured eggs or even pasture raised chicken or beef but pork?  Let's discuss what goes into pastured pig production and why it's better than the typical pork produced in most of the world.

The Standard Approach

First let's start by looking at what most pork production in the world looks like.  Most pigs raised in the world spend their entire lives inside huge metal buildings like the one shown below:

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While this is actually pretty clean and non-crowded facility compared to many, it's a far cry from pastured pork.  

Pigs are very smart, curious, and friendly animals.  When they're in facilities like this, they get bored easily as it's impossible for them to do the things a pig was born to do like root and roll around in the dirt and mud.  They often get agitated and stressed due to the being confined their entire lives and similar to humans, stress releases cortisol which affects the meat quality when the animal is processed.  

Large facilities like this can also be breeding grounds for disease that affect both the pigs and humans in the worst cases.  They also have to deal with large amounts of manure which are too often not disposed of properly and can pollute our rivers and lakes. 

A Better Alternative

Pasture raised pork allows pigs to "express their pigness" as Joel Salatin puts it.  They live their entire lives outside and get to do the things a pig was born to do, like rooting for treats and wallowing in a small mud hole. Here is a picture of a couple of our pigs enjoying the shade of a hedge tree in their current paddock. 

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Pigs can have a devastating impact on the land or a beneficial one.  It all depends on how long they are left in one spot, the size/number of them, and the conditions of the land.  We move our pigs every 1-2 weeks and are currently using them to help renovate a non-productive, ridged area of our land.  

Here is a photo of some of the grass on this area:

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As you can see in this photo, there is a marked line between where we had a pig paddock (right) and no pigs (left).  There is more grass and less weeds where the pigs were versus where they weren't.  

This is the awesomeness of using pigs to do the work that traditional farms use fossil fuels and chemicals to do.  The pigs love the work and it makes some of the most delicious pork at the end of the process. 

In Conclusion

Hopefully this shows you the numerous reasons why pasture raised pork is beneficial to you, your family, the environment, and the pigs themselves.  

If you're in the Lawrence, Topeka, or Kansas City metro areas and want to support our pasture based farm, click here to check out our online farm stand and order some pork today.  We do weekly deliveries to each metro area where you can meet us and pick up your order.

Are Brown Eggs Healthier?

To some, this may seem like a silly question, but to those that don't raise chickens, it can be honestly confusing.  When you go to the grocery store, the cheap eggs are always white and then the prices go up with the varying brown eggs (cage free, vegetarian fed, free range, pasture raised - we'll cover these differences in another blog post soon).  

In our opinion, the main thing that changes the health of an egg is the ration of Omega 3s to Omega 6s as well as the other vitamin and nutrient levels.  You can read more about that here.

 

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Are they healthier?

It's a myth that brown eggs are healthier. You can definitely have white eggs that are healthier; it comes down to how the chickens are raised.

Okay, so what's the scoop?  Well, it depends.  How's that for muddying the already murky water?  Let's dive into some of the specifics to try and clear things up.

Why are the cheap eggs white? 

All the white eggs you find in the grocery store were laid by a White Leghorn chicken.  The White Leghorn is the most efficient feed to egg converting chicken there is which is why the CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) industry uses them exclusively.  When you're raising over 100,000 birds in an enclosed building increasing your feed efficiency by a small amount equals cheaper eggs and more profit (of course also less healthy eggs and chickens living miserable lives). 

So brown eggs are healthier then?

Not so fast, it depends.  One of the most popular alternative eggs you see at the grocery store is the brown "cage free" egg.  Well, these eggs are no healthier and the living conditions only slightly less miserable for the birds.  They're still raised in huge numbers in a metal building with no access to the outdoors but they're all on the ground instead of in cages.

I give up. What is it?

The healthiest eggs are ones from chickens raised on pasture.  You're looking for "Pasture Raised" eggs.  Avoid the "free range" label as that is kind of blurry and a lot of the time is the same thing as cage free.  Unfortunately there aren't strict definitions of these terms so different companies are using them as marketing more and more.

What about a white vs brown pasture raised egg?

This is where things get really interesting.  So what makes a pasture raised egg more nutritious is the chicken eating grass, weeds, bugs and having access to sunlight and fresh air all day. 

So the question we need to ask is will a Leghorn forage (eat bugs and grass) as well as a heritage breed chicken such as a Rhode Island Red?

We couldn't find any scientific studies on this so this is based off our own experiences.  When our Leghorns are younger, they don't seem to forage as well as the other breeds but as they get older, they're out there just as much as the others eating worms, grasshoppers, dandelions and other delicious chicken treats.

So the conclusion?

A white pasture raised egg is 99.9% as healthy as a brown pasture raised egg.  The heritage breeds might forage slightly better than the Leghorn but not enough for a noticeable difference in the health of the egg.  

We raise mostly brown egg layers but you might occasionally find a white egg from our Leghorn Lollie.

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If you're interested in the healthiest, pasture raised eggs in the Lawrence, Kansas City, or Topeka areas, sign up for our mailing list. We'll be in touch later this summer as our next batch of layers start producing awesome orange-yolked eggs packed with healthy fats and vitamins.  

Chicken Coop Greenhouse

Is it cold where you're at?  Are your pastured egg layers not leaving their coop?  Welcome to winter.  We've had one of the coldest winters in recent times and our birds are not loving it.  Today I'll share a little farm hack we use to make the girls (and boy) a little more comfortable during this cold snap.

Greenhouse Coop

Greenhouse Coop

So, what you see here is our coop surrounded by old windows.  You can find old windows at some thrift stores or reclaimed materials stores.  These were $5 each at our local place.  

You want to surround the east, south, and west sides with windows.  The north wall is just surrounded with some old bead board we had laying around.  

You'll want to make sure and secure the windows so winds don't blow them over and break them (or your chickens).  

On really cold days, we open their door, then lean another window up against the door opening leaving a gap where they can get out but helping hold in more heat.  

Yesterday morning it was 10 degrees outside and I put a thermometer in the coop and it registered 28 degrees!  Between the chicken's body heat and the greenhouse effect of the windows, it provided 18 degrees of warming.

Here's a short video on the setup.