Natural Farm Interview
V: What kinds of animals do you raise?
F: At Natural Farm we have cows, black angus cows. We have sheep called tunis sheep. They are the ones that look kind of red. We have broiler chickens that we raise just for meat. We have chickens that lay eggs that are called layer hens. We also have turkeys, which we harvest for Thanksgiving. And of course we run the horse academy where we teach our riding lessons so we have horses here, too.
V: What is the difference between an organic animal and a natural animal?
F: An organic animal is an animal that would be certified under the USDA label for organic animals and each different group of animal has its own classifications. What happens is a herd of animals is certified organic together so that if they live together all the time, that means all of them have to be certified organic. If you have one that isn’t organic, he makes the herd not organic. So an organic animal is certified as organic under the guidelines and standards. A natural animal is an animal that would have a diet that is more in tune with what a cow likes to eat. Think about all the things you could feed a cow. The one thing they really like is grass. So a natural animal such as a cow, eats just a grass diet.
V: What are some of the difficulties in making an animal organic or natural?
F: Some of the difficulties in making an animal organic are sometimes if they get sick and they need medicine, and you treat them with those drugs they can’t be certified organic any more. It’s a tough line to balance. You want to make sure the animal is healthy, but that they are also getting the right treatment. You have to document what you give them so that you can say when the animal goes to slaughter that yes they were, for their entire life, not treated with anything that is deemed not organic. Some of the troubles with natural farming in our area is that the grass doesn’t grow in the winter. We have to find a food source that is grass, but is not heavily sprayed. You guys have heard about pesticides and sometimes they use herbicides to control weeds. Just like some bugs are bad for produce, you have weeds that are bad for grass that can choke out the grass. So it’s making sure that we have a good healthy feed supply through our long winters and even in the droughts when the grass doesn’t grow.
V: What are some of your harder animals to raise?
F: Some of the harder animals to raise are probably our chickens. They require a lot of labor. It’s labor intensive I guess you could say. It takes me a lot of time to go out there and look at each individual turkey because they stand right there together. We also have to take into account that we have a lot of predators in our area so we protect them with special fences. We have special houses that cover them, so that a bird of prey can’t come and pick them up and carry them away. We have to insure that the animals are protected but getting the grass and the forage that they need to survive each day.
VS: What is your favorite part about raising natural animals?
F1: My favorite part is the babies. I love to see the little babies running around. They are so cute it makes every day worth it.
N: Are there any kinds of medicines you can use if an animal gets sick?
F: If an animal gets sick you can use any medicine that is deemed safe for use in an animal. But you have to remember that if you give it to them at a certain period of time, they are not healthy enough to take in and be harvested for human consumption. You have to make sure you watch that. They have to be able to process the medicine through their body and be eliminated from their body.
V: Thank you.