Animal Welfare Approved

Archive for November, 2011

AWA Releases New Guide to Real Grassfed Beef

By Andrew Gunther | November 30, 2011

We are pleased to announce that the in-depth guide to the benefits of grassfed beef is now available from Animal Welfare Approved. The Grassfed Primer: Your Guide to the Benefits of Grassfed Beef covers the history of U.S. beef production and the rise of modern intensive farming systems, and provides a detailed description of the wide-ranging benefits that grassfed cattle systems can have for human health, the environment and animal welfare.

As the range of products, labels, and brands making grassfed claims continues to expand, The Grassfed Primer is designed to cut through the confusion and provide an informative, easy-to-digest introduction to the benefits of real grassfed and pasture-raised beef.

The 20-page publication includes chapters titled “Grassfed, health, welfare and the environment,” “The problem with feedlots” and “How do I know it’s grassfed?” Written in an accessible and informal style, the booklet also contains full scientific references for further reading and research.

A Caged Egg McMuffin to Go, Please

By Andrew Gunther | November 22, 2011

McDonald’s has just discovered bigger isn’t always better. McDonald’s – one of the nation’s largest egg purchasers – has just dropped Sparboe Farms, one of the biggest egg producers in the U.S. after undercover filming showed abuse of chicks and hens at facilities in Iowa, Minnesota and Colorado.

McDonald’s is finding out that there is a price to be paid for dealing with industrial egg producers like Sparboe. By their very design these industrial systems fail to meet the needs of the hens, fail to protect the consumer from health problems such as Salmonella and fail to provide farm workers with a safe and positive working environment. However, McDonald’s Europe boasts a much more sustainable supply chain – in fact, over 95% of all eggs used by McDonald’s across 21 European countries are either free range or cage free “barn” eggs. Why then can McDonald’s in the U.S. not learn from its European operation?

Thank a Family Farmer this Holiday Season

By Andrew Gunther | November 18, 2011

Animal Welfare Approved has an annual tradition of taking a moment to thank the family farmers who work so hard to produce healthy and environmentally responsible food for our communities. Farming is not an easy job, and we want to encourage AWA friends and followers to take this opportunity to appreciate farmers you know for their contribution to our holiday tables and to our tables every day.

As the only national nonprofit organization that audits, certifies and supports farmers raising animals on pasture, we are fortunate to have become the most highly regarded food label for sustainability and outdoor farming systems.

With an ever-growing family of certified farms, AWA helps consumers find sustainable, pasture-raised products and connect with the farmers that produce them. We encourage you to seek out AWA farms and purchase their products this holiday season as a way to support pasture-based farms. Please also use this forum and social media to share your thanks.

USE THE COMMENT BOX BELOW TO SHARE YOUR THANKS TO FAMILY FARMERS. OR… to use Twitter to thank family farmers, use the hash tag #ThankAWAFarmers. On Facebook, use @Animal Welfare Approved to tag your message. We will share all of these messages with AWA farmers!

Food is a central focus of any holiday, but it has impacts far beyond the table. While the majority of farm animals are raised in extreme confinement, numerous studies have shown that pasture- and range-based farming is better for the environment and brings a wide range of benefits to both animals and consumers.

Our farmers are providing good, healthy food from animals raised according to the highest standards and are moving us all towards a more sustainable future. Every animal we raise outdoors on pasture brings an environmental benefit to us all – in responsible nutrient management, soil conservation and lower environmental impact.

Join us in celebrating these farmers who work so hard to feed us and who are truly stewards of our planet.

AWA Announces New Labeling Resources for Farmers and Consumers

By Emily | November 17, 2011

In response to farmer interest in labeling, Animal Welfare Approved has launched a new labeling section. The site is designed to help farmers and processors navigate the labeling process and serves as the portal for accessing Animal Welfare Approved’s free labeling service for certified farms. Featuring labeling guidance, information on claims approval and a gallery of approved labels, the new site and service can save producers time and effort in creating an attractive, effective label for certified products. And as with AWA certification, there is no charge for this service for farmers in the program. Farms interested in certification should visit AWA’s Certification page for more information.

Farmers and processors can use the information in AWA’s new online labeling resource to help distinguish their pastured products in the marketplace, and consumers and retailers will be able to use these resources to ensure they are sourcing sustainable products.The launch of AWA’s new labeling section coincides with the release of “Food Labeling for Dummies,” AWA’s new comprehensive guide for consumers.

Sprawling Oaks Farm – Arcadia, FL

By Animal Welfare Approved | November 16, 2011

Christine Abbey and her husband, Jamie DeRuyter, left Orlando in 2003 in search of more open space. They settled in Arcadia, a town with a population just over 6,600, where one thing led to another and they ended up establishing Sprawling Oaks Farm. Now the farm is home to Saanen, Lamancha and Guernsey dairy goats and Buff Orpington, Rhode Island Red, Black Copper Maran and Ameraucana laying hens.

U.K.’s Health Protection Agency Warns Against Industrial Farms

By Andrew Gunther | November 10, 2011

When a government’s independent advisory agency on human health publicly objects to proposals for a new industrial hog operation because of the risks it poses to human health, people tend to take heed.

This is exactly what has happened in a small but very significant planning battle taking place in Great Britain. Midland Pig Producers (MPP) has applied to build a state-of-the-art indoor hog production unit in Derbyshire, which would hold 2,500 sows and produce around 1,000 hogs a week for slaughter – one of the biggest industrial hog farms in the country. But in what might prove to be a fatal blow to MPP’s plans, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) – the U.K. government’s independent advisory body on health – has raised a number of human health concerns about the proposal, including the fact that “recent research has found that those living up to 150m [165 yards] downwind of an intensive swine farming installation could be at risk of adverse human health effects associated with exposure to multi-drug resistant organisms.”

Shepherd’s Cross Incorporated – Claremore, OK

By Animal Welfare Approved | November 8, 2011

Peter and Dr. Diane Dickinson bought their farm in Claremore, Oklahoma in 1990 and although they were both from horse and cattle ranches, soon began raising sheep at Shepherd’s Cross Incorporated. Diane was familiar with sheep in her work as a veterinarian, but they quickly learned that the show sheep that they began with were not what they wanted. Now Shephard’s Cross sheep are a cross between Jacob and Suffolk breeds, which they call a Jacob Cross—combining the superior wool and ability to live on the land of the Jacob sheep and the Suffolk’s excellent meat production.

Treble Ridge Farm – Whitefield, ME

By Animal Welfare Approved |

Rufus and Alice Percy raise Animal Welfare Approved pigs at Treble Ridge Farm in Whitefield, ME. Both Rufus and Alice are second-generation farmers from Whitefield. Rufus’s father had a 20-sow farrow-to-finish hog operation, and Alice’s parents had a small pasture-based goat dairy. They both moved away to try other things in their late teens, but soon returned home. They raised their first two pigs together in 2003 and in 2005 they became certified organic and raised their first litter for sale.

Madrono Ranch – Medina, TX

By Animal Welfare Approved |

Madroño Ranch: A Center for Writing, Art, and the Environment in Medina, Texas is both a ranch with Animal Welfare Approved bison and laying hens and a residency for environmental artists and writers. Martin Kohout and Heather Catto Kohout decided in 2005 that raising bison in a high-welfare system was the best use of the 1,500 acres their family had owned for almost 20 years in Texas Hill Country.

Sierra Lands Beef – Prather, CA

By Animal Welfare Approved |

Since 1996, the Sierra Foothill Conservancy has been managing thousands of acres of land in California’s Mariposa, Madera and Fresno counties in order to protect and preserve foothill ecosystems and open space. Like many conservation land managers and researchers, Sierra Foothill Conservancy has found that anywhere non-native grasses thrive, grazing is essential for preserving vernal pools, native wildflowers, small vertebrates such as kangaroo rats and lizards, and invertebrates such as bugs and butterflies. In order to take advantage of these benefits, for many years, the Conservancy invited ranchers to graze cattle on its preserves as an important part of its stewardship of the land it owns and manages.