Heather Laudie is proud to say that the Laudie family has farmed in southern Missouri for generations, although she admits they “skipped a few generations” when her grandmother decided on city life instead. That farming tradition, however, is what inspired Heather to start Sage Croft Farms six years ago in Higginsville, Missouri.
Together with her six children, Heather raises Animal Welfare Approved Berkshire pigs on 12 acres of pasture that has been specially designed to provide the pigs not only with added nutrients, but with entertainment as well. “Our animals are handled, cared for, and entertained daily,” Heather explains. “We plant root crops in the pastures so that they can engage in their natural rooting behavior, and they love it. They have a pond they can go in and get muddy.” The Berkshire breed, she notes, was chosen not only for its high quality meat, but also for the animals’ temperament: “Our farm is family operated, so I needed to choose a breed that was easy enough for me and the kids to move on pasture. All of our sows are like 400 pound dogs.”
While the original goal of the farm was to provide clean, safe meat for their family, Heather’s goals grew as word got out about her farming practices. “We are surrounded by a lot of very conventional agriculture operations,” she says. “When people heard about how I was farming, that I was hand-feeding my pigs every day without corn, I think that really created a demand for our product.” Choosing to become Animal Welfare Approved seemed like a great fit, not only with her practices, but also with her long-term goals for the farm. “A lot of people would love to learn to farm this way,” Heather says, “but they have no one to go to.” Eventually, Heather would like to offer more farm tours, tastings at local grocery stores, and even create an on-farm education center where people can learn about the benefits of high-welfare, sustainable farming.
Being a part of the Animal Welfare Approved program is an important step to reaching those goals: “Being AWA gives us the exposure and the support we need to show people we are different than everyone else,” says Heather. “We believe that our animals should have joy, and that this is the way it’s supposed to be. We’re glad to have AWA along to help us tell our story.”
For more information about Sage Croft Farms, email firstname.lastname@example.org.