Frequently Asked Questions
Please see below for a list of questions commonly asked by our customers. Should you have a question not addressed on this list, feel free to drop us a line or give us a call and ask us! Info@whiteoakpastures.com (229)-641-2081
Yes, we are committed to the principles of sustainability and stewardship. All animal remains are composted into organic fertilizers for our pastures. We tan the hides; we grind the bones and we sell the meat. Each part of the carcass is utilized, wasting nothing.
Regenerative agriculture is a system of farming principles and practices that seeks to rehabilitate and enhance the entire ecosystem of the farm by placing a heavy focus on soil health with attention also paid to water management, fertilizer use, and more.
We believe the local food movement is not about 10 miles or 100 miles. We believe that the local movement is about the decentralization, deindustrialization, and de-commoditization of the American food industry. Most of the United States cannot cost-effectively produce high-quality grassfed beef year-round. Because of our favorable climate, we are able to do this in the Gulf Coast Plain.
We also believe what passes as “local” is, in fact, case-specific. For instance, “local” eggs and tomatoes probably should be sourced from your county. There is not a county in all 50 states that can’t produce eggs or tomatoes during certain months of the year. For consumers in the Deep South, “local citrus” should mean Florida citrus and not Mexican citrus. We feel our grassfed beef, lamb, and poultry are local to the Southern region of the United States.
The USDA describes "free-range” as “having access to outdoors”. A lot of chickens that are labeled “free-range” were raised in conventional chicken houses, so we choose to not use the words "free-range" because of this intentional confusion caused by labeling. Our pastured chickens are raised completely outdoors walking freely on our pastures. We provide a portable roosting house for them. Our chickens could walk to Atlanta if they wanted to. They are completely unrestricted. This is our pastured model.
The USDA has their own standards for organic animal production. We do not like USDA’s definition of “organic," principally because it allows the confinement feeding of corn. They just require it to be organic corn. We feel that we go far beyond the USDA certified organic standards with our grassfed beef and lamb.
Heck, no. We take our animals apart the old-fashioned way: a man with a knife and a saw.
No. Hormones and antibiotics are not used on our farm, which results in healthier, leaner, beef.
We grow no genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on our farm.
We do not produce any dairy products. We do offer some selections from our neighbors in our General Store.
In the field, our poultry is our best insect control, but we also attract insect-eating bats and purple martins with bat houses and martin houses. Cattle egrets congregate in the pastures and eat a wide variety of insects, ticks and grubs. At our processing facility we use sticky lines and chlorine granules.
Temple Grandin, the internationally recognized animal handling expert, designed our red meat processing abattoir. The animals are handled humanely throughout the process according to USDA standards. The animals are rendered insensible to pain using a captive bolt. Once the animal is rendered unconscious, the animal is then exsanguinated (bled out) until it is no longer living. This whole process takes about 3 minutes to complete.
We would love to be able to report to you that our animals experience no pain when we slaughter them. But that would be disingenuous. We can tell you that the physiologist tells us that, when the sensory receptors are disrupted, pain should be mitigated. We can tell you that our focus is to dispatch our animals without inflicting pain or panic. This is important to us. Everything that has ever lived has died, or will die. None of us are promised a pain free death. Certainly, in Nature, predation almost always involves pain and panic. We control everything that we can, in our system, to minimize this.
Temple Grandin, the internationally recognized animal handling expert, designed our red meat processing abattoir. The animals are handled humanely throughout the process according to USDA standards. The animals are rendered insensible to pain using a captive bolt. Once the animal is rendered unconscious, the animal is then exsanguinated (bled out) until it is no longer living. This whole process takes about 3 minutes to complete. The carcass is then eviscerated and cleaned prior to putting it into the chill cooler where it is chilled overnight to ensure it meets USDA standards for carcass chilling. The day after slaughter, the chilled carcass is then broken down by our butchers into the cuts that we market. These cuts are packaged on our equipment and then moved to the blast freezer for a quick freeze.
All of our products are available in our online store.
Our grassfed ground beef is available at all Publix supermarkets. If you don’t see it, please ask the meat manager to stock it.
You can also find our grassfed ground beef in Kroger stores in Atlanta.
Our grassfed steaks, roasts, offal, ground beef, and chickens are available at Whole Foods Market in the Mid-Atlantic and South Regions. Our pastured eggs can be found in Whole Foods Market locations in Atlanta and select restaurants.
ALL of the products we raise, harvest and craft on our farm are available for direct delivery through our website.
We often are asked about the age and weight of our animals at slaughter. The following chart is our minimum age and weight for each species.
|Cattle||Angus Based||Min 24 mo/1000 lbs|
|Sheep||Katahdin||Min 12 mo/100 lbs|
|Goat||Boer/Spanish||Min 10 mo/100 lbs|
|Chicken||Imperial Red/Robust White||Min 10 wks/ 5-10 lbs|
|Duck||Pekin||Min 8 wks/6-12 lbs|
|Geese||German/Embden||Min 12 wks/12-14 lbs|
|Guinea||Lavender||Min 10 wks/4-8 lbs|
|Turkey||Nicolas White||Min 12 wks/10-30 lbs|
|Holiday Turkey||Nicolas Black||Min 16 wks/15-40 lbs|
|Rabbit||American Chinchilla||Min 12 wks/4 to 8 lbs|
|Heritage Pork||Berkshire/ Tamworth and Gloucester Old Spots||Min 12 mo /320 lbs|
All cattle eat grass at some point during their lives. In the United States, almost all cattle are fed corn in a feedlot for about five months before they are slaughtered. This five-month period comprises almost one-third of their lives. It is inarguable that allowing our cattle and other ruminants to eat grass and roam freely for their entire life is more humane for the animal and more environmentally sustainable for our land. Our cows graze on pastures year-round and are 100% grassfed, along with our sheep and goats.
Our pastures are established in warm-season perennials, including bermudagrass, bahiagrass, johnsongrass, and Dallisgrass. In the Winter, we overseed all of our pastures in cool-season annuals, such as ryegrass, red clover, and white clover. All of the grasses are non-GMO.
Our line of cattle goes directly back to the herd that James Edward Harris brought to this farm in 1866. They would have been “Cracker cattle” or “Pineywoods cattle”. We know this because they are the only breeds that would have been available in Georgia 150 years ago. They were from the feral descendants of the cattle that the Spanish brought to the new world.
The reason that almost none of these breeds are around today is that all the cattlemen did what our ancestors did- they brought in "purebred" genetics of other breeds they felt would provide improved performance. Will Harris suspects that, over that last century or so, at least one of every breed of cattle that has ever lived in Georgia has left his DNA on White Oak Pastures.
We have always retained our female cattle for breeding, but until about 2015 we imported outside genetics as sires. In 2013, we ceased castrating our male cattle. We did it to attain a higher animal welfare score, but the real benefit was raising better bulls than we were buying.
Since then, we have not brought in any outside cattle genetics. This is how a breed is created, and we are creating one.
Breeds of cattle that we know have left their genetics in WOP's herd:
And certainly others.
The cow/calf terminology can be a little confusing since there is not really an age where a calf becomes a cow. We don't process any cattle younger than 24 months.
Nope! We do it the old-fashioned way, with a bull and a cow. The same for the rest of our sheep, goats and hogs.
We are not currently on a set rotational pattern; Mother nature is the master orchestrater. Rain, temperature and herd size all dictate herd movement, which is why we consider livestock management a form of art, not science. We use our knowledge of forage density and nutrition to determine when a herd would be moved to a new pasture. Cows naturally "clump" together in a field - that's why they call it a herd. The herd tends to have regular patterns of movement within a field. The cow density you see in a particular spot has no correlation to the true cow density of that field.
Grassfed beef costs a little more than industrial beef because it costs more to produce it. We are unapologetic about this. We do not use hormone implants, confinement feeding, antibiotics, or high carbohydrate feeds. These are tools science has developed to take costs out of producing beef. When a farmer ceases to use these cost reduction tools, the production costs are added back. A farmer would go broke if he produced high-quality grassfed beef and sold it for the same price as commodity beef.
No. But we do recommend you wet age our steaks before preparing. Dry-aging serves two purposes:
- It is controlled tissue breakdown that helps to make steaks more tender.
- It allows moisture to intensify the flavor of the beef.
We choose to not dry-age our grassfed beef. After a great deal of experimentation in our own abattoir, we have chosen to ship our beef as freshly as possible for the following reasons:
- The controlled tissue breakdown can serve to make steaks more tender, but in doing so, it makes the ground beef and the roasts mushier. The same breakdown that is going on in the steaks is going on in these cuts as well. We feel that our steaks are adequately tender, and we don’t like mushy ground beef. Our steaks can be better aged in your refrigerator if you feel it necessary to make them more tender.
- The flavor of our beef does not need to be intensified through moisture loss. It naturally has a wonderful clean terra noir that our customers say is addictive. The fresh flavor of our beef is one of its greatest attributes. We will not fool around with this.
Yes. Grassfed beef does not taste like corn-fed beef. There is less fat in our beef, and the relatively small amount of fat that our cows do have is different in that fat from grassfed beef has a lower melting point. This gives our beef a flavor many describe as "cleaner."
We are not currently set up to harvest brains. Facilities must have dedicated lines in order to avoid cross contamination of items connected to any nervous tissue. We don't have this.
We do not sell any part of the nervous system which includes brains and adrenal glands. Under the USDA Food Safety Standards, these are declared SRMs or specific risk materials and have been removed from the human food chain.
We are not accepting sides and whole cow orders at this time (April 2020). We do offer bulk packages in our online store.
1/8 of a cow will take up about two cubic feet of freezer space. The pieces are individually packaged and each kit comes with 34 packages of meat, approximately 35 pounds total.
We've put together a master guide for cooking grassfed ground beef here, or check out our general grassfed and pasture raised meats cooking tips page.
This is a USDA term meaning the meat is merely cut, or cut and ground. Nothing else is done to it and nothing is added to it.
Our goats are crossbred among Boer and Spanish breeds. Our goats are used to open up the canopy in brushy areas of the farm. This allows new grass seedlings to receive more sunlight and produce more grass. They also eat plants that are very nutritious and contain lots of minerals. The minerals are put back into the cycle when they are grazed by the goats.
Our sheep are Katahdin. We chose this breed because their short hair coat allows them to thrive in Southwest Georgia weather year-round. They do not produce a fleece and do not require shearing. They are medium sized and efficient grazers, which is helpful as we also use sheep to manage land much like the goats.
We also have a very special herd of sheep working to keep the solar array grazed!
We are not accepting sides and whole hog orders at this time (April 2020). We do offer bulk packages in our online store.
Our Heritage hogs are Tamworth, Berkshire, and Gloucester Old Spots.
Our hogs have it made! They enjoy cracked eggs from our pastured egg operation, as well as blemished vegetables from our Certified Organic vegetable farm. We also offer them a free choice, non-GMO grain supplement, containing corn, soy, wheat and other grains.
From birth to slaughter the pigs are raised on pasture and woodlands at our farm. The foraging is typically of roots and grasses, while it can also contain bugs, worms, and other ground dwelling animals and insects. Our hogs are left to exhibit their natural instincts to root and wallow and forage for anything they find palatable.
We currently do not cure our bacon here at White Oak Pastures; a neighboring processing facility performs that process. Our pastured pork bellies are first skinned, removing fat to our specifications. A dry cure is applied and rotated for even coverage for 12 days. Dry cure ingredients include: kosher salt, red pepper flakes, black pepper, celery powder and cherry powder. The cured bellies are then rinsed and allowed to dry before being placed in the smoker. The bacon then chills before it is trimmed and sliced thick and packaged in 1 lb packs. We receive the product the following day and place it into frozen inventory to ship to our loyal customers.
Our rabbits are processed at twelve (12) weeks of age. Our breeding stock is housed in the brooder barn. Upon weaning the kits, we move them to an outdoor area to forage and grow to slaughter weight.
Our early attempts at raising rabbits completely outdoors were a dismal failure. Whenever startled, pregnant rabbits abort and reabsorb the fetuses. Loud noises, such a thunder or a loud truck, or unusual sights or movements will easily trigger these spontaneous abortions. During the six months that our does lived outdoors, we had a 100% failure rate for live births.
While we breed, kitter and wean in cages, we keep the brood stock on a rotation so that they are able to spend time on pasture. Additionally, once our rabbits are weaned, they are then put out to pasture to spend their days foraging before processing.
We like to keep everything we produce as natural as possible. We use an organic peroxide-based solution to clean the poultry of any bacteria. Here is a link about the peracetic acid that also has information on the type of chlorine dioxide used by other poultry processing plants.
Due to the small size and limited space in our facility we are not able to air chill our chickens. Air chilling even a small amount of birds takes up a lot of square footage in a facility. We are currently using an ice bath (which includes peracetic acid, not chlorine) to rapidly chill the birds according to USDA regulations. Unlike large facilities who would reclaim and reuse chill water, we use a batch system where we place small amounts (200-300) of birds in an ice bin to chill. We do not use this water to chill any other birds as the water can become contaminated. In an effort to reduce cross contamination with other birds, this water is discarded between batches. After chilling in the ice bath, the birds are hung and allowed to drip dry prior to packaging.
We are raising Royal White chickens, which are a cross between a heritage bird and a Cornish cross hen. They spend the first four (4) weeks in our brooder and are then released on pasture where they live until processing. These birds reach processing weight around eight to ten (8-10) weeks, as opposed to commodity birds, which finish at almost twice our slaughter weight in five (5) weeks. That is about twice as long as it takes an industrial broiler breed but, we think our chickens are worth the wait!
Yes! Finally, we have been able to source non-GMO feed in the quantity that we need to run our pastured poultry operation!
All of our poultry is outside completely unconfined 24 hours each day, 7 days each week. They get a tremendous amount of nutrition from insects in the ground, but we also offer them a non-GMO grain mix. This mix includes corn, soy, barley, and other grains.
These grinds are comprised of carcass backs and cages. This does not include organs. The ratio of meat to bone is approximately 50/50.
After four weeks in the brooder, these birds were set on pasture where they received a non-GMO diet without corn and soy. These birds are true omnivores, foraging our farm for bugs and grubs in the soil. Sold individually, our 8-way birds will weigh 2.5 - 3 pounds each.
*These birds did receive corn and soy in the first four (4) weeks of their lives. This first batch of birds was a trial to be sure we could grow them successfully on pasture. Now that we know we can, we are working towards a starter feed that will not contain corn and soy to use in the brooder for future sets of birds.
Our unwashed eggs have been inspected but not washed, keeping the natural protective bloom that protects and keeps the egg safe. Typically, just rinsing the eggs with warm water before using them is best. Unwashed eggs will last at least two weeks non-refrigerated, and three months if refrigerated. Washed eggs should be refrigerated, and will last at least two months, but won't taste as fresh as an unwashed egg of the same age.
We do ship eggs; eggs are fragile but they typically ship well. If you try an order and receive broken eggs please photo the cartons and send them to us at email@example.com and let us know how many were damaged and unusable. A helpful tip: If there are eggs stuck in the cartons, soak the carton in lukewarm water to release the shells, and store the survivors in the refrigerator.
Plan a trip to come visit! We have beautiful cabins nestled in the woods to offer a place for total rest and relaxation. We have a wonderfully restored General Store in the heart of Bluffton. The town and our General Store offer a delightful opportunity to step back in time and enjoy a piece of history.
Our General Store (plus General Store Reviews)
On-Farm Lodging (book your reservation!)
Workshops & Events
- FREE ground shipping on orders with a product total over $199
- $10 ground shipping on orders with a product total over $99
- Orders containing ONLY non-perishables ship for $10 nationwide
- $40 ground shipping on orders containing perishable items with a product total of $99 or less
- Orders containing perishables and shipping outside our 2-day ground network must be upgraded to express shipping due to the amount of time they would be in transit. These shipping totals are calculated per pound per mile by our shipping provider
- We do not ship to PO Box addresses.
- Want more info on ground vs express shipping? Check out our blog post about how we ship your order.
We ship via UPS.
Everything is vacuum sealed, frozen, and shipped with dry ice within a 3 day transit time.
If your cooler still contains dry ice on arrival, wear gloves to remove the bag from the cooler and place the bag outdoors. Once completely evaporated dispose of the plastic bag.
Dry ice is solidified carbon dioxide. As the -109°F substance absorbs heat, it turns directly into a gas, releasing carbon dioxide into the air.
What not to do:
Do not place dry ice in water or other liquids.
Do not attempt to dump dry ice in a sink or toilet. The extreme cold will harm sink and toilet parts and pipes.
Do not dispose of dry ice in garbage receptacles or garbage chutes.
Do not leave dry ice in an unventilated room to evaporate. It will release a build-up of carbon dioxide into the air that can cause rapid suffocation.
Do not place dry ice on a tile or laminate countertop. Instead, use a solid surface – a wood cutting board or piece of plywood is best. Dry ice is sometimes used in tile removal and may destroy the bonding agent holding the tile or laminated material in place.
Do not store dry ice in a glass or air-tight container. Pressure will build up inside and could cause the container to explode.
By default, orders ship in styrofoam coolers. While styrofoam isn't recyclable, we rarely have meat spoil in transit. We hope that you can hold onto the cooler and take the delicious meat and poultry you purchased from our farm on a nice picnic! You can also donate the cooler to an animal shelter or food shelter or repurpose the cooler. We love some of these ideas.
We take food safety and shipping our products very seriously. We take as many measures as possible to ensure your order arrives in a safe condition. It is possible that a portion of your order may not arrive completely frozen, especially when the weather is very warm. We suggest consuming any beef within seven (7) days and any poultry within three (3) days or refreeze the items upon arrival. Read more about freezing and food safely.
If any of your order is warm to the touch upon arrival, we suggest sending us a photo of the item with the label and the cooler lid and your order number to firstname.lastname@example.org, and then discard that portion of the order. We will take the necessary steps internally to identify the problem, and work with you for a resolution that's reasonable and manageable by everyone.
The U. S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) advises: “Once the food is thawed in the refrigerator (40℉), it is safe to refreeze it without cooking, although there may be a loss of quality due to the moisture lost through thawing.” After cooking raw foods that were previously frozen, it is safe to freeze the cooked foods. If you believe the temperatures didn't drop below average refrigerator settings, we suggest you refreeze. If you are concerned about any of your products, we suggest cooking them and then freezing. Read more about freezing and food safely.
All orders are packed on our farm, not in some order fulfillment center in the middle of the country. We are a small farm, so we don't have an elaborate warehouse or a high-tech inventory system. Vertical Integration means all functions are kept at White Oak Pastures, where we raise, slaughter, butcher, and package all of the species we offer to our customers. Due to the perishable nature of our products, we ship on Monday through Friday. This means your packages may be delivered over the weekend. If you are traveling or have plans to be out of town, please note this in the comments section of your order. It is the customer's responsibility to let us know if they won't be home to retrieve a package.
We try to process every order within 7 to 10 days, if not sooner. You will get an email with tracking information as soon as your order leaves our farm.
Yes! All of our plastics are BPA free.
Once meat leaves our farm, we are not able to accept returns. When dealing with perishable products, ensuring that the cold chain was never broken is required. When it leaves our hands, we are unable to guarantee that the product is safe for resell. However, if you have a complaint, please reach out to our customer service team at email@example.com
If for any reason you are unhappy with the quality or packaging of an item you have received, please let us know. Contact customer service at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you can, please send a photo of the item label (with the item code and LOT number), packaging, the product, the cooler lid, and any other helpful information. Please include your order number and we’ll be happy to resolve the issue quickly.
To leave a review for a Farm Visit, a Google Review is the best way to share your happy experiences.
Seasonality and weather take part in the way we farm, which affects what items are available from time to time. If you find an item that is out of stock, please click ‘Add to Wishlist.’ When we add more inventory to this particular item, you will receive an email reminder that this item is now available.
We make use of every part of the animals we slaughter. Whether making compost from bones or jewelry from leather, we respect the sacrifice that took place to provide pasture-raised meats to our customers. This method of whole carcass butchery keeps us from mass producing any one item. While some view it as inconvenient, keep in mind--we are farmers, who take great pride in natural production systems and regenerative agriculture. We promise that all items will be restocked, and are committed to keeping your favorite products available as much as possible.