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Our four founding farms are located in the northeast corner of Missouri and western Illinois, alongside the Mississippi River. The Wood farm is near Canton, Missouri; the Leeser Farm is in Taylor, Missouri; the Suter farm is near Wyaconda, Missouri; and the Crum farm is near Virginia, Illinois. Our other products come from our co-operative of family farms around the country.
All U.S. Wellness Meats pastures and animals have been maintained with organic principles in mind since 2000.
None of our animals are fed antibiotics or growth hormones throughout the course of their lives.
Unfortunately, the state of Missouri dropped a state-run organic-certification program and turned it over to a private certifier several years ago. The private certifier wanted 3% of the gross income of the preceding year to maintain the license. We politely said no, and felt if Thomas Jefferson were still alive he would concur. Sadly, greed has infiltrated a noble cause. 50% of the Missouri organic producers have let their certification lapse since this situation was create by the Missouri legislature.
With a 30 to 45-day rest period between grazing, we increase the density of existing plants in our pastures and allow for the
re-introduction of new native plants. As a result, all of our grassland is deeply rooted, and this better root structure and thicker sod enables the landscape to catch and hold nearly all of the rain that hits it, resulting in virtually no soil erosion or flooding. In the most recent local floods, our neighbors' fields suffered erosion and, in extreme cases, were underwater, while ours were able to absorb the excess water. Finally, this sustainable eco-system is a natural carbon recycler: the carbon our animals produce is reused by our plant life for further growth.
Are the cattle finished with grain?
Never. From the moment our animals are weaned from their mothers, they consume high quality forage for the rest of their lives. Not only is grain-finish counter to the values of grass-fed farming, but a change to a starchy grain diet can undo omega 6:3 ratios and CLA values in 30 days.
What do cattle eat in the winter?
The onset of winter doesn't mean the end of grazing for our animals—there is still stock-piled forage that they consume until it is harvested or snow is an issue. When snow makes grazing impossible, we feed our animals our own hay, which is pasture grass that is harvested and stored when dry. Baleage, fresh pasture grass that is cut at optimal freshness, stored and vacuum packaged while moist, allows for nearly green grass in January. During harsh weather, we supplement with a starch-free grass plant protein for added energy and protein. We never use grain (starch) as it will ruin excellent lipid chemistry.
Where are the cattle harvested? Is it humane?
The animals are tended as humanely as possible up to point of slaughter to minimize stress. The process is done as quickly as possible to eliminate animal trauma or suffering. And we are sticklers about cleanliness: We demand a steam-cleaned facility for the slaughter process in order to eliminate all risk of cross contamination with grain-fed animals, and we are committed to a strict adhere to the USDA's Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) standards. In seven years with the current abattoir, we have yet to see any evidence of adrenaline-rush damage (an immediate stress indicator) in the meat tissue after slaughter. Finally, the facility we use in the Midwest is one of only three in the U.S. that is approved by the European Union. And in keeping with our tradition of supporting outstanding family businesses, our facility is family-owned with six members of the same family involved in overseeing daily operations.
How do I know that your pigs are treated well?
The pork we carry is Compassionate Certified Pork. This excellent certification is third party verified to ensure accuracy. Among numerous requirements, the animals are not allowed to be given any growth stimulants or hormones, antibiotics are prohibited, a vegan diet is fed and outdoor access is available. In the event that an animal requires antibiotics, the animal is treated but removed from the program. The animals are allowed outside as often as they want. Larger pigs may be outside more than smaller pigs which is weather driven, as cold weather is harder on smaller pigs. The animals have full bedding available at all times; slot floors and gestating crates are not allowed. Ozark Mountain Pork is the coop of farmer-members who raise the pigs. Heritage Acres buys the pigs from Ozark and markets the pork.