Cows were born to roam and graze. Hogs were born to root and wallow. Chickens were born to scratch and peck. These are natural instinctive animal behaviors. Unfortunately, industrial commodity livestock production removes costs from meat production systems by raising animals in mono-cultural confinement systems that do not allow these instinctive behaviors.
As a fourth generation stockman, Will Harris offers folks some "Southern Cowboy Common Sense" on how to recognize good animal welfare: If you would like to open up a lawn chair and drink a couple of glasses of wine while you watch the animal, then you have good animal welfare. No normal person enjoys watching a hen in a battery cage or a sow in a farrowing crate, or a steer wading in its own excrement.
Our animals are athletes. They spend their entire lives roaming our lush pastures and eating sweet grasses, as nature intended. We utilize Regenerative Grazing Practices and Holistic Management to manage the ten species of livestock that roam White Oak Pastures. Nature abhors a monoculture. All of our animals roam freely and breed naturally; they never set foot on concrete until the day of processing. We do not use hormones, steroids or antibiotics.
As much as we are committed to providing our animals with a peaceful, healthy life, we are committed to offering them a humane and dignified death. This is why in 2008 we built a USDA-inspected beef abattoir on our property, only the second of its kind in the United States. In 2011, we built our USDA-inspected poultry abattoir, the only one in Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, or Mississippi that is available for pastured poultry. Our animals don't travel many miles from pasture to abattoir, unlike conventionally raised cattle that commonly travel many hours in a truck to slaughter without food, water or rest. Our plant, designed by Temple Grandin, is focused on keeping our animals at ease.