FarmStart’s Pastured Pigs and Poultry Workshop at Green Being Farm
By Kelsey Rideout, FarmStart Outreach and Resource Development Intern
On Saturday July 10th, FarmStart held a workshop called “Pastured Pigs and Poultry” at Green Being Farm in Neustadt, Ontario. This full day of learning was facilitated by the farm’s manager, Tarrah Young, who raises healthily fed and happily roaming pigs, chickens, turkeys and lamb. Many of the participants had some history of farming, although had little background in raising animals on pasture. It didn’t take long however for the enthusiastic and open-minded group to begin discovering the medley of benefits that come from enabling livestock to embrace their instinctively nomadic way of life.
The workshop began with understanding the life cycle of a pastured chicken. Participants first gathered inside the Green Being Farm chicken coop, where newly born chicks freely grow within an open, spacious room and benefit from being fed certified organic grain. Tarrah emphasized the meticulous care that is needed to ensure the birds’ survival and healthy development. By closely observing the well being of the chicks every morning, Tarrah constantly watches for any sign of disease or illness that a youngster may appear to be suffering from. Participants then ventured out further on the farm to view laying hens and fully-grown broilers that are raised on rotated parcels of pasture. Each visit outdoors was complimented with some essential classroom-style learning that drew upon important lessons in starting a viable business and surpassing the major barriers that often prevent farmers from entering the small-scale poultry industry. To end the morning, Tarrah encouraged participants to know their farm animals inside out, and performed an autopsy on one of her birds that had fallen ill. Participants attentively watched as Tarrah demonstrated how organs unique to chickens both look and function.
While the morning had been full of intensive learning, the excitement only grew when Tarrah moved onto the next topic – pigs! To the delight of the participants, Tarrah provided a thorough overview of pigs – from their history in agriculture to their amazing ability to restore the soil’s fertility. The group then headed back outside to look at Tarrah’s Berkshire pigs, a heritage breed of pigs known for their succulent flavor. The pigs seemed hardly disturbed by the group’s presence, as they continued to bask in the sun and sprawl out in their mud-filled playground amidst the crowd of strangers. In a few weeks time, they will be old enough to freely run around in the grass and enjoy exploring the land. Upon living healthy, balanced lives full of exercise and leisure, Tarrah explained what key steps come after in humanely processing the meat and successfully selling her pork. By marketing directly to her customers, Tarrah is able to capture the entire sale price of her meats, and can also set her own prices so that they reflect the full cost of production.
At the end of the day, participants went home from Green Being Farm with a great amount of new knowledge and inspiration to begin farming in a more caring, sustainable and viable way. But before they left, many wandered around a little while longer, finding solace in the sounds and sights of the farm’s majestic environment, and sharing in the simple, undeniable joy that comes from feeling free.
To learn more about Green Being Farm, visit the farm’s website at www.greenbeingfarm.ca.
Stay tuned for more opportunities to learn about livestock and raising animals on pasture in FarmStart’s upcoming Fall workshops.