Dorothy Adkins and her husband, Tony, raise Animal Welfare Approved hogs in the North Carolina Sandhills region. The farm comprises 20 acres of flat, partly wooded land that is a mix of sand and silt soil, with a 2 acre pond and three barns.
The Adkinses raise Large Black pigs—a slower growing traditional breed known for its excellent temperament, hardiness, and large size. Dorothy says, “They look like a Volkswagen sitting out in the pasture,” but adds that their size can be misleading: “We call them ‘gentle giants.’ As soon as you pat their belly they roll right over.” Another reason she and Tony chose this breed was flavor—according to Dorothy, the bacon is supposed to be the best you can buy.
Dorothy didn’t grow up on a farm but believes this actually gives her an advantage. She is open to new ideas, eager to learn, and willing to research to find the best solutions. Pigs at Twin Oaks Farm are rotated through fresh pastures and fed certified organic, non-GMO feed and hay. The Adkinses have anywhere between 20-40 hogs on the farm at a time, staggering production to meet market demand. All pigs are registered Large Blacks and are fully traceable to their parents. This is an important attribute of Twin Oaks pork, says Dorothy: “I can tell my customers exactly which pig each pork chop came from, who its parents were, and who its grandparents were—I can even show you the pig’s birth certificate.” Other important husbandry practices include breeding, maintaining a closed herd, and keeping high biosecurity protocol to prevent diseases from coming on the farm.
Dorothy and Tony chose to become AWA-certified because they appreciated what the label stood for. Dorothy explains AWA is an important part of their marketing strategy: “I want it to come through very clearly that animal welfare is a big part of what we are doing. When we go outside and see the pigs lounging in the sun and having a great time, it makes us happy. We want our customers to know that these animals have the best life possible.”
Twin Oaks Farm’s business has three foundational principles: caring for the animals, being gentle on the land, and ensuring the highest product quality. “We know if we stay true to these principles, the money will follow,” Dorothy explains. “I feel very responsible for the food we produce. If everyone ate like this we really would have a much gentler impact on the planet.”
Information about purchasing AWA pork from Twin Oaks Farm is available online at: http://graysonspremiumpork.com/.