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.
Our farm and abattoirs are certified humane by four unique animal welfare organizations: Humane Farm Animal Care, Animal Welfare Approved, American Grassfed Association, and Global Animal Partnership. All four are wonderful organizations, and all four have thick manuals that detail what good animal welfare looks like.
As a fourth generation stockman, I offer 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 the Serengeti Rotational Grazing Model, large ruminants, followed by small ruminants, followed by birds. 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 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. Which 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 free-range poultry. Our animals never travel more than a few 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.
The White Oak Pastures’ beef and lamb are Certified Grass-Fed and Certified Humane Raised and Handled. The farm is Certified Organic by the USDA. White Oak Pastures’ cattle is Step 4 rated and our chicken is Step 5 rated by the Global Animal Partnership, and the processing plant is Animal Welfare Approved.
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