When Randy and Pam Moore bought the historic Ohio farm that had been in the Moore family for generations, they kept the family’s respect for the land and animals a part of their lifestyle. Instead of embracing modern trends in agriculture, the couple sold their conventional farming equipment and learned how to raise meat animals by sustainable methods.
They started selling their pasture-raised meat at a local farmers market, and sales took off quickly. The marketing secret, says Moore, is the milder flavor and enhanced tenderness from sustainable agriculture processes. “Pasture-raised pork tastes completely different,” he says.
All feeder pigs that arrive at Webb Valley Farm come from a local farmer and are allowed to graze instead of being confined. Their pasture diet is supplemented by grain and whey that Moore buys from an organic dairy.
The freedom to roam and the quality of diet are apparent in the animals’ appearance and demeanor, says Moore. “If their tails are curly, that means they’re healthy. We treat them like they’re 4-H animals.” Moore processes the hogs for market in late spring and early summer.
The Moores also raise Hereford and Belted Galloway cattle, as well as chickens for meat and for laying. All are given ample access to pasture using a strategy called mob intensive grazing. Animals are allowed access to a moderate-size portion of pasture and are encouraged to graze it completely before being moved to a fresh spot the next day.
Limiting the animals to a specific area mimics the natural response to threat from predators, which would make the animals cluster for safety and graze all of the pasture in a limited spot.
By rotating in a set pattern, the animals get the benefits of grazing fresh pasture filled with wild clover, and the pastures grow lush with the regular addition of manure.
“I can produce 10 times the number of cattle with mob intensive grazing than just letting them run,” Moore says. The Moores also practice this approach with their meat chickens.
Besides the farmers market, the Moores sell ground beef and pork through a meat CSA. The couple hopes to one day open a retail store in a historic barn on the farm, but that will have to wait for the budget to support it.
The possibilities keep the Moores optimistic about Webb Valley Farm.
“We haven’t tapped our potential,” Moore says. “It all comes down to sunshine, grass, and fresh air.”
This story was written by Jennifer Lorenzetti for the Living the Country Life® section of Successful Farming magazine.