Even though we deal predominantly with livestock here at Stonewood Pastures, our primary occupation is grass farmer, that's why we put the word "Pastures" in our name. Raising animals on grass requires close management of the available forage through the use of rotational grazing, which means that we move animals to new areas depending on the condition of the land and forage. Though moving animals to new pasture every day or week requires a fair amount of labor, it comes with some pretty amazing benefits:
- Healthier animals. The fresh air and access to green forage during the growing season keeps our animals mentally and physically stimulated and in sound health. In addition, by rotating the animals to fresh green pastures, we minimize the exposure of our animals to intestinal parasites deposited in their waste. As a result, we don't have to administer chemical deworming medications, which is a common practice in other types of livestock operations.
- Better tasting meat. Though taste is a highly subjective matter, we are confident that you will agree with us on this one once you've tried our meat.
- Improved Pasture Quality. It may seem somewhat counter-intuitive at first, but letting a herd of pigs, sheep, or cattle, or a flock of chickens intensively graze an area and cause a significant disturbance to the vegetation actually improves the overall quality of the forage in that area over time. The reason for this is three-fold: (1) the regenerative ability of plants allows them to rapidly recover from mild to medium levels of disturbance, (2) the disturbances created by grazing and rooting animals bring sunlight to places previously shaded, bring seeds to the surface that were previously buried, and generally provide opportunities for a variety of plant species to thrive in areas previously dominated by a few, and (3), the animals provide the nutrients plants need to thrive, i.e. manure.
- It's just more fun. It is safe to say that we would not be interested in raising animals if we had to do it the conventional way: jamming too many animals into an industrial building and feeding them slop and antibiotics until they're shipped out. We take great joy in watching our pigs root and graze (pigs do graze!), and our chickens dig for bugs and worms. Spending time outdoors with animals expressing their full animal nature is what makes the long hours and hard work worth while!