Good Farming Practice

Good Farming Practice

Oct 08

Second in my posts about happy things in the world of food is Polyface Farm.

We all know about factory farming conditions, how cows and chickens are crammed shoulder to shoulder and forced to live horrible lives. Well, Polyface is a farm that not only gives us cows and chickens that live natural lives but that interact in a perfect system to better the farm and environment. Anyone who has read “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” knows all about Polyface, and they know its a good farm because it has perfected a balance between species. Polyface does things on a farm they way they should be done. If by chance I ever become a farmer, my farm will strive to be like Polyface.

Joel Salatin and family run the farm on a rotation basis. Now we’ve all heard of crop rotation, but Polyface does it with animals. instead of crowded barns with tiny pens, Polyface cows are allowed to roam in the pastures eating up grass as they were naturally meant to do. Salatin has a system in which the cows are allowed a certain pasture to graze for a day, then the next day they are moved to a pasture next to the first, on down the line in succession. This way, there is no over eating the grass (thus rendering it dead), and no cows standing in or interacting with mounds of manure (as cows in factory farms deal with). So we are left with happy cows, given fresh grass everyday and allowed to eat as a cow should.

After the cows have been through a pasture in comes the Eggmobile, a mobile chicken coop hooked to a truck and towed from pature to pasture. The chickens are then allowed to range around, pecking, roosting and being natural chickens. They eat the bugs and larve that flock to the cow manure and then their nitrogen rich droppings fertilize the grass allowing it to grow again before the next batch of cows and chickens comes through a few weeks later. It’s all a beautiful process between the grass, cows and chickens, benefiting all three to be as nature intended and thus making farming easier on the farmer.

Polyface also has turkeys and rabbits in mobile coops as well as pigs that help with composting at the farm. And they are all raised so differently and perfectly compared to factory farms. One of my big issues with farming in the US is how the animals are not allowed to be as they should. Cows are not allowed to roam, eat grass, chew cud, even grow as they should (too many hormone injections) or develop an immune system (too many antibiotics) or even produce milk as they should (again hormones), they don’t even really get to live a life at all (especially since in 120 days it’s time to kill them). So Polyface is a farm that let’s these animals live a happy life and be animals, and then banks off of the interaction between the animals to make the whole system better. It’s genius and I may have a crush on the mind of Joel Salatin just for the beauty of it all.

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