©2017 Forks Farm

HOW WE FARM  

We believe that grass farming means placing animals in their natural environment eating food that animals have evolved to eat. This stress free setting assures you that our meat is as good as nature would allow it.

In nature animals are free to search for food and roam.  When they move on, their feeding areas regenerate, providing food for the future. Portable enclosures help us approximate these natural conditions while providing protection from predators, allowing our animals to live healthier lives and produce healthier meat.

 

If you look around our farm you’ll see lots of these enclosures: movable pasture pens for our broilers, an "Eggmobile" for our laying flock, temporary fence wire for the cattle and pigs, and electrified netting for the turkeys. By moving these enclosures on a regular basis, our animals are constantly moving to fresh grass (food), and leaving their manure behind. This manure contributes to the quality of the soil, building a complex, rich, nutrient dense base preparing for the next grazing cycle.

This cycle of grazing, manuring, and regrowth happens many times a year across our farm. It’s within this natural cycle that our animals live healthy, low stress lives. Movable enclosures are the tools that make this beautiful cycle work.  These practices directly link to the quality of the meat, offering superior flavor and nutritional value.  See our nutritional analysis here.

The benefits of moving animals frequently

  • The even spreading of manure in amounts the soil can handle

  • No soil erosion because animals are never in one place long enough

  • Increased organic matter in the soil from the die-back and decomposition of plant roots that occurs with every round of grazing

  • Greater water-holding capacity for the soil, less runoff and greater drought resistance due to the increased organic matter from root decomposition

  • Greater volume of pasture growth because plants are not continuously grazed, but allowed to regrow

  • Fewer parasites and lower virus survival due to short animal residence time, fresh air and sterilizing sunshine

  • Animals are healthier because they breathe fresh air, get away from their own manure, and eat the type of feed they’re designed to eat

  • No need for crutches such as therapeutic antibiotics, growth hormones or artificial fertilizers

  • Constant access to sunshine and fresh air

  • Meats that are nutritionally superior

We don’t spread man-made chemicals

We don’t apply man-made chemicals, pesticides or fertilizers. The only fertilizer we apply is compost from our own cattle manure, poultry bedding, and the remains from our chicken and turkey processing. The only “chemical” we apply is naturally occurring ground limestone.

No therapeutic antibiotics or added hormones

We don’t use therapeutic antibiotics or hormones to reduce stress or promote growth. Raising our animals in a way that mimics nature allows us to do this. Sunshine, fresh air and daily moves to new ground reduce the survivability of viruses and parasites.

Rare use of antibiotics to save an animal

On rare occasions we’ll administer antibiotics to a sick animal to save it. We never sell a sick animal or one that’s been on antibiotics.

We use mineral & vitamin supplements

Our cattle have free choice access every day to a trace mineral/salt mix to make up for the lack of any naturally occurring elements in our pasture plants. We add a vitamin supplement to our chicken and turkey feed for their first 5 days on the farm to help them overcome shipping stress.

We’re locally oriented

We’re a locally oriented farm. We buy our young poultry from Pennsylvania hatcheries and growers. We buy feed and hay only from local farmers and mills. We buy bedding, lime, and hardware from local suppliers, but we do buy some portable fencing from out of state. We process right here on the farm or use processors within 100 miles of us here in PA. We supply food to folks who live within about 150 miles, but most are within 50.

 

The ideas that guide us
  • What we eat affects our health.

  • What the animal eats affects its health.

  • Ruminants are not designed to eat grain.

  • Fresh air, sunshine, and relaxed handling reduce stress in an animal.

  • Foods raised from naturally enriched soils and forages without chemical inputs taste better, keep longer, and are more nutritious than grocery store commodity foods.

  • Local food systems are good for communities.