Tyler Snider, a third generation family farmer, raises AWA-certified beef cattle at Mountain Foot Farms in Neelyton, Pennsylvania. Tyler’s grandfather raised a small herd of beef cattle on the same property, a farm situated in a valley along the foothills of the Tuscarora Mountain. After purchasing the land in 2009, there was a drastic increase in grain prices, and Tyler found he was struggling to make the business profitable. Hearing more and more about the benefits of pasture-raised beef, he decided to experiment with finishing the cattle on forage, and received excellent customer feedback about the beef. The decision to transition the farm to pasture-based management was simple and he’s been able to grow the business ever since. Today, Mountain Foot Farms is home to 90 cow-calf pairs and 90 steers raised outdoors on pasture according to the highest animal welfare standards in the U.S. and Canada.
Tyler has found many benefits in transitioning the farm to pasture-based management. “Any type of livestock does better when outside,” he explains. “The more you put them into their natural habitat the better they’ll do. They have paddocks, water, and shade here. An animal that is confined all the time is not healthy—it should be outside moving around instead of in a tight-spaced, fly-ridden building. Our cattle always have access to pasture here, they can always be outside.” Tyler also notes that the animals aren’t the only ones who have benefited from the transition—the business has seen positive change as well. “It’s simply more cost-effective. When the animals are outdoors eating grass there is less feed to make manually,” he explains. “Pasture-raised beef is also a higher quality product and can be sold at a higher price point, which means more profit for me and a better life for the cattle.”
Searching for a program that would show his customers he was adhering to the highest animal welfare standards, Tyler came to learn more about Animal Welfare Approved and decided it was the best certification to pursue. “Before it was just my word,” he says. “Now I have a third party to verify that what I say I’m doing is the truth.” He also explains that finding time to work on his business’s marketing has always been difficult, and AWA’s range of free marketing support has been a real bonus.
Looking forward, Tyler plans to continue to produce quality meats and grow the cattle herd at Mountain Foot Farms with hopes to eventually purchase more land. Mountain Foot Farms currently sell AWA-certified beef by appointment only. Customers can buy beef by the half or whole. For more information about Mountain Foot Farms, or to make an appointment to purchase beef, contact Tyler at (814) 259-3232. For news and photos from the farm, visit Mountain Foot Farms on Facebook.