From the beginning, as our farm business grew and we ventured into raising more animals for meat and egg production, we committed to raising the animals on pasture. With careful pasture rotation we can meet the nutritional needs of the animals, utilize different pastures to their best potential, and provide the animals with the opportunity to live in their social groups. We set up their paddocks to provide natural shelter, shade and fresh water as well as ample forage. The pigs help renovate woodlots, some recently cleared to transition to pasture. The sheep graze the prime forage lands during lambing and lactation, and when young stock are growing rapidly. At other times, when the ewes nutritional demand is lower, they can utilize marginal pastures that are less productive, which they help bring back into better production through their grazing.
Sheep are ruminants, which means they can digest grass and other vegetation effectively to meet all their nutritional needs without needing any grain. We time the breeding and lambing of our flock so that ewes lamb in May when pasture forage is plentiful and rich, which allows us to produce healthy, 100% grassfed lamb in Vermont without needing to supplement with grain (which is commonly needed for a ewe lambing in March).
Because pigs and chickens are not ruminants they cannot get all their dietary needs from pasture alone, so we supplement with Non-GMO grain. Our pigs and chickens are also great recyclers, munching on the veggie "seconds" that don't make the cut for human consumption. In vegetable production there can be a lot of "waste" product: we aim to sell what we can, donate what we can't sell that is still suitable for human use, and recycle the rest with the help of the pigs and chickens. Of course, the compost pile is also in action at JSF for anything that gets beyond even what a pig likes. Our goal is to recycle the energy of the farm as much as possible, keeping the nutrients in the soil, animals, and plants.
The animals on our farm play critical roles in the whole farm cycle, from nutrient management to land renovation, crop rotation, and energy efficiency. In essence we are capturing the conversion of solar energy into pasture forage and then into meat. We aim to produce healthy meat in a manner that respects the needs and lives of the animals, that benefits your health and the health of the land that we farm. Plus they bring enjoyment and wonder to our day.