Pigs are incredibly intelligent and social creatures who bond in close-knit groups in which females raise their young. Farmers assert that gestation crates are used to protect the sow and the fetus from being injured and to allow easy access to monitor the sow’s health and feed. Third party certifications can help meat eaters choose pork products that are both healthier and carry a lighter moral burden. Imagine a hypothetical pork consumer: We’ll call her Sally. Sustainable Agriculture. Sally is a single mother who has learned about the plight of sows who spend the bulk of their lives crammed inside a cage. Pigs with value-added attributes, such as animals from a “humane” supplier like Niman Ranch, are often slaughtered in blocks on specific days or at specific times to help with product segregation. That first shipment: 30 hogs. 33965 Tern Ave. - Another example is Niman Ranch, a larger meat producer that works with farms across the US who practice Niman Ranch-approved methods of ethical animal raising. If animal welfare is important to you when buying meat, you can find humanely raised meat in these places: David Evans, farmer and owner of Marin Sun Farms, has declined certification because he reserves the right to use antibiotics in the rare case that one of his animals gets an infection. She wants, in other words, a pig born to a sow like those I saw at The Pig Adventure. This story originally appeared in EatingWell Magazine July/August 2020. Credit: We feed our animals natural transitional organic feed and follow organic practices. The challenges, says Parsons, are logistical. Except where otherwise noted, content on this site is free to reuse, and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence. To avoid the headaches (and costs) of segregation, individual packers might then insist that all the pigs they receive had roaming mamas. Stereotypies are repetitive behaviors formed out of social maladjustment and stressful conditions. Applegate Humanely Raised. That’s where the piglets born on Thomas Parsons’ research farm at the University of Pennsylvania in Kennett Square ultimately wind up. Our humanely-raised pork can ordered individually or as a pork/beef combination. These days, Willis is less involved in day-to-day operational duties at Niman, but he remains a key voice in the company and the initiatives it pursues. We started our farm because we were unable to find humanely raised meat for our own consumption and we realized that many certification systems for humanely-raised products are misleading and ineffective. North Carolina has acutely felt the downside of a massive, environmentally damaging pork production industry, but a better model may be emerging. Marin Sun Farms is a perfect example of a small meat producer that sources from local farmers who practice humane, pasture-based methods of raising their animals. Providing clean, uncrowded living environments removes the need for tail docking. If you’ve never tried fresh fruit preserves befo, Van shares her ideas about converting traditional, Lamb chops and okra... #quarantinecooking lunch⠀, One burner, no oven...still manage some healthy an, Braised Goat Shoulder Recipe With Cinnamon and Blood Orange. Niman Ranch Pork now supplies 5,000 a week, and has grown from one family farm to a network of more than 650 in 15 states—farmers Willis recruited from across the country and helped to implement his good practices. Rabbit: Local humanely-raised rabbit. Even though “humanely raised” can mean different things, it should never mean that: Animals are raised in cages; Animals are raised in tightly crowded barns; Animals aren’t allowed to express their natural behaviors; Animals are bred in ways that cause physical deformations; Animals are routinely given food that risks making them sick “I don’t see any reason why that animal should be condemned to the industrial system, and I’m very clear about that in my marketing, about how we handle our antibiotic policy,” David commented. Niman Ranch started with one farm. But buying a pig born to a humanely raised mama is harder than you’d think. She doesn’t live near a Whole Foods, nor could she afford the markup on the pork chop caused by all the extra processing steps involved in sourcing humanely raised, let alone humanely born, meat. Let’s say demand for pigs born to mothers who had space to roam hits 50 percent of the market. Niman told Willis that if he could figure out how to ship his pork to northern California, Niman would buy it—at a fair price, no less. Niman Ranch farms are also free range, decline the use of both growth hormones and antibiotics, and use vegetarian pig feed (although notably pigs are omnivores—when raised on pasture they will seek out animal protein such as bugs and grubs). With the Whole Foods stringent meat selection criteria, Sally could safely buy a Step 1 pig and know that all the pigs along the supply chain—including the sow that produced the meat—had space to roam. Sadly, Sally can’t find that pig unless she goes to a store like organic-specialist Whole Foods, which adheres to Gap Animal Partnership (GAP) standards, a five-step point welfare rating (one being acceptable welfare, five being the best) for its pork products. Our pork is Certified Non-GMO, Rated a Step 4 in the Global Animal Partnership, Certified Humane and Ecological Outcome Verified (EOV) in the Land2Market Program. In organic farming, if an animal gets an infection, it will be sold into the conventional industry. However, the most common alternative to gestation crates is indoor group housing which can keep up to several dozen sows together in an indoor pen. In 2015, a PETA observer worked for more than two months at Sweet Stem Farm, LLC, a Lancaster County farm that produces “humanely raised pork. Once the animals get to the slaughterhouse things get more complicated still. Sadly, Sally can’t find that pig unless she goes to a store like organic-specialist Whole Foods, which adheres to Gap Animal Partnership (GAP) standards, a five-step point welfare rating (1 being acceptable welfare, 5 being the best) for its pork products. Supporting Independent Family Farmers. We’d need a paper trail, noting the status of each mother’s housing experience, to follow these animals. While nothing is risk free, some activities are safer than others when it comes to COVID-19. While certified organic pork products do offer some protections against the worst abuses, such as continuous confinement, sometimes the most humane and sensible options come from farms that are not certified. We do know how to label humanely raised meat, such as grass-fed cows, but there’s still a grey area when it comes to the welfare of the mother of the meat, which generally isn’t recorded. But buying a pig born to a humanely raised mama is harder than you’d think. Sadly, Sally can’t find that pig unless she goes to a store like organic-specialist Whole Foods, which adheres to Gap Animal Partnership (GAP) standards, a five-step point welfare rating (1 being acceptable welfare, 5 being the best) for its pork … This allows sows to socialize and, in some cases, may provide bedding for them. A friend introduced him to Bill Niman, whose San Francisco operation, Niman Ranch, was selling sustainably raised, high-quality beef and lamb. Conventional farming could not remove a pig further from this natural form of living. We started our farm because we were unable to find humanely raised meat for our own consumption and we realized that many certification systems for humanely-raised products are misleading and ineffective. Snacks. Soon after giving birth a sow will be re-impregnated and returned to a gestation crate to repeat the cycle all over again. “ Sweet Stem Farm is certified as a “Step 2” pig farm, according to Whole Foods’ “5-Step TM ” standards.