Animal Welfare and Good Husbandry
Respect, Calm and Kindness
On this farm our mantra is that all our animals deserve respect, calm and kindness. Whether they’re breeding stock or animals we’ve designated for the butcher; while they are here, we ensure they have a happy, healthy and stress free life.
We practice two main disciplines within our husbandry; our animals are raised as naturally as possible and when around them we work carefully, calmly and quietly.
Naturally Raised Outdoors
When we say we do things naturally it means we birth all our animals outside in Spring, and we never barn them.
They graze 365 days of the year out in the sea air eating only coastal pasture.
Very common farm practices we don’t do
We don’t force wean
We don’t force wean instead we let the mothers stay with their young and naturally wean themselves slowly.
We don’t dock
We don’t dock (cutting off) any of our animal’s tails and when it comes to the pigs we don’t clip/cut their teeth or put rings in their noses.
No Nasties on our Pasture
We also don’t use any nitrate fertilizer or pesticides on the farm. Animal welfare for us extends to all the microbes in the soil and insects in the grass.
No Live Exports
We made the decision not to sell any of our animals onto the open market where they can be shipped live to goodness knows where. Instead, the animals we do sell go to private buyers as breeding stock on other farms.
You can read about our stock sales here.
We don’t use dogs
To move 800+ sheep the norm is to use at least one sheep dog, but we don’t.
We used to work with dogs but back in 2011, when we switched to holistic planned grazing, we quickly realised there was no need for a dog because the sheep wanted to move to the fresh pasture.
Arriving at Village Farm we arrived without dogs.
We also soon realized when you use dogs your working relationship is with the dog and the sheep are just this third entity.
When there are no dogs you start working with the sheep and your working relationship is with them. You see them as individuals and they start not to fear you because you are not scaring them with dogs.
Moving the flock becomes a very enjoyable, peaceful experience because the sheep trust you and know you are leading them to fresh food each day.
Which brings us onto pharmaceuticals or “farmaceuticals” as we’ve heard them called.
Here’s some more things we don’t do, we don’t vaccinate any of our animals or routinely worm them. Instead we breed for natural immunity from disease and our grazing management reduces the likelihood of parasites becoming a problem.
When it comes to the use of antibiotics we use them very sparingly and only after much deliberation.
They are only ever used in the case of a severe infection for welfare reasons but with us being organically certified if we use them on an animal for 3 times in its life that animal is no longer organic.
As for food, we move our sheep daily onto new pasture so they have clean fresh food every day. We don’t feed our animals any grain. In the case of the sheep and goats this is because they are herbivores, put simply they naturally eat only herbs and grasses. They are not classed as grainivores because seeds and grains are not part of their natural diet. In fact cereals and grains can cause them great harm because herbivores are not evolved to eat such products.
If we stick with dietary classification for a moment, our pigs are omnivores (meaning they eat many things) but once again are not classed as grainivores.
Today 99.99 percent of farm-reared pigs are fed a heavily grain based diet and are supplemented with minerals to keep them going. Yet if you watch wild boar in a natural environment their diet is varied and they need no supplementation.
With our pigs, the vast majority of their diet is what they find and choose to eat out in the pastures. In the winter we do supplement their diet with a half-bucket of organic nut feed when needed. On this diet our pigs have never needed mineral supplementation and have never needed medical intervention.
Abattoir and Butchery
It’s our belief that if you are going to raise an animal for the butchers then, as mentioned above, we have to give them the best life, we also have to make sure that there last day is as respectful and calm as possible.
That’s why we only use a small, local, family run abattoir to dispatch our animals. You can read more about them here.
With regard to butchery, we are very lucky that the abattoir we use has an amazing butchery department on its premises. This is where all our meat box joints and cuts are prepared.
It’s being respectful of the animal, if we take a life then we need to produce the best quality food we possible can to honour that….. and that’s what we honestly do each week.
We have a saying on the farm “If you’re not willing to share your farming practices with the general public then you shouldn’t be doing it”. It’s a good saying to have because we are proud to be completely honest about how we raise our animals. We eat a lot of our own lamb, hogget and mutton because we know exactly how it was raised.
To read more about our meat boxes click here.
Village Farm Organics