Friday, April 6, 2012

Soy Free Feeding...

I am trying to be better about updating the blog to let you know what is going on here... I have so much planned in my head and on paper, I just forget that you might want to know what we are planning and why we do things the way we do.

The last few weeks alot of our time has been spent developing a 'new' feed recipe for our pigs. I developed 3 guidlines for the feed that I wanted to follow:

1) Needs to be local - preferably grown by us.
2) Needs to be sustainable - able for us to continue producing year after year(no monsanto seed!)
3) Needs to be healthy for the animals and provide health benefits to those consuming the products

Affordability was also an issue, or I could have chosen to purchase our feed from Scratch and Peck feeds -  This feed closely resembles what I would like to feed the pigs, but at $0.61/lb before shipping, that would take ALL of the profit out of raising pigs. If commercial producers are currently getting $0.69/lb live weight while paying $0.15/lb for commercial feed I would have to chage $2.76 /lb live weight JUST to stay competitive with factory farms... Not to mention that heritage breed pigs raised outside grow a little slower which means that they consume more feed to get to market weight. That would defeat our purpose of trying to raise healthy food that everyone can afford to eat.

So my next plan was to formulate our own recipe. Scratch and Peck did provide a lable that listed their ingredients, which helped tremendously since I did not go to school to formulate feeds. With my list in mind, I knew we had to be able to grow the ingredients while adding as little off farm supplements as possible.

By growing all of the ingredients used in our pig feed, it will cut down on the fuel that would have been used to bring in grain, especially soy, which would have to come from eastern Nebraska or even further. It also means that we know exactly what was or wasn't applied to the growing grains, as we farm following Organic standards. Any corn included in the feed will be non-GMO open polinated corn, grown right here.

My research led my to Austrian Meat Theory on feeding pigs for the best quality meat(very different from American standards) and Niman Ranch pork raising protocols. Their standards state:
1) Antiobiotic Free
2) Hormone Free
3) All vegetarian diets (To comply with this claim, we cannot feed meat or meat by-products This includes, but is not limited to: animal fat, meat and bone meal, fishmeal, tankage, blood or plasma, or even eggs. This excludes milk products which are allowed.

Most feeds for pigs contain some or all of these ingredients to boost protein levels... Yuck!

We did however realize that the pigs would need some form of salt/minerals to help balance their diet. There are Organic premixes available, but for now I intend to go with a SeaLife kelp - see here:

So our final ingredient list for our ground feed came to:

Austrian Field Peas
SeaLife Kelp
Diatomaceous Earth (controls parasites and reduces odors)

We are also planting small pasture paddocks or grass/clover/alfalfa to get the pigs out grazing and they will be supplemented with hay and excess dairy.

We feel like eliminating the soy from their diet was the right choice -

We plan to feed our meat chickens the same ground feed with added calcium.

Two litters are due this month which means they will be ready to process Oct-Dec. The reservation list is filling up fast so if you want to try our pork, please contact us!

Nathaniel & Rylee McGowan