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Bradley Jolley, Jr. raises AWA cattle on pasture at Turkey Pen Ranch in Doniphan, Missouri. Turkey Pen Ranch is one of several trusted ranches who supply high-quality grassfed cattle to the American Grassfed Beef brand. For more information, see americangrassfedbeef.com.
Although Bill and Deb Robinson were both city-raised, Bills exposure to livestock as young child planted seeds for their dream to own a small farm and raise animals. In 2004, their decision to purchase some land finally gave them the opportunity to raise cattle on pasture as they had always envisioned. When a friend suggested they should look into AWA certification for their cattle herd, Bill and Deb quickly recognized that AWA standards aligned with their own objectives for the farm. “Our goal is to provide a good environment and have our cows well fed, well treated, healthy and calm,” says Bill. “Our potential clients recognize that we do what we say we do by having AWA certification.”
Ryland “Dutch” Meyr raises AWA cattle on pasture at Touchdown Ranch in Jackson, Missouri. Touchdown Ranch is one of several trusted ranchers who supply high-quality grassfed cattle to the American Grassfed Beef brand. For more information, see americangrassfedbeef.com.
Vince and Nancy Pope raise AWA-certified sheep on a centennial family farm in the southern driftless region of Wisconsin. Vince was raised on a dairy farm and worked as a livestock nutrition specialist, and Nancy is a practicing veterinarian. Their skillsets are strong assets in their commitment to pasture-based management of their flock. “Essentially, we have a nutritionist and veterinarian on staff,” Nancy explains. Their combined skills allow Vince and Nancy to identify potential problems in the flock early, and make adjustments or provide treatment as needed.
By Animal Welfare Approved
| December 20, 2013
Polly Cisneros’ story of farming began with inspiration from her grandmother. One of the first women to graduate from Oklahoma University, Polly’s grandmother was ahead of her time—eventually retiring during the 1960s and tending an organic garden. “When asked how she managed pests, she would pick up a tomato worm and squish it,” Polly explains. Fundamental and effective, Polly’s grandmother left the land better than it was when she started, and this left an impression on Polly for years to come.
Circle B Ranch is nestled in the gently rolling hills and woodlands of the southwest Missouri Ozarks. The 90-acre farm is conveniently located in the town of Seymour, just 32 miles east of Springfield. “At Circle B Ranch, we raise hogs the old-fashioned way: outside on the pasture, where the hogs can run and exercise,” farmers John and Marina Backes proudly explain. “It’s the way nature intended.”
Ben Gotschall’s great-grandparents began raising commercial Hereford and Angus cattle in 1936 in Holt County, Nebraska. The ranch was eventually passed to his father and Ben was born and raised on land his family had been farming for three generations. When Ben was 10 years old, he started helping with milking and immediately fell in love with Belle, the only Jersey in his father’s herd of Holsteins. “She stood out to me as the little brown cow who was quite capable of holding her own with her bigger black and white herdmates,” Ben remembers. After a year of milking, his father let him choose one calf to care for and start his own herd and, of course, he chose Belle’s first calf. A year later, Ben used the money he’d saved from milking to buy her second calf and, through the American Jersey Cattle Association’s Genetic Recovery program, soon had a small herd of registered Jersey cattle. In 1997, as a high school senior, Ben had the top-performing Jersey herd in the state of Nebraska for milk and protein production, with just 14 cows.
Although Hamid Markazi’s family owned a farm when he was growing up, he only gained limited hands on experience with farming and chose a different career in geology and environmental engineering. It wasn’t until later on in his life that Hamid and his wife decided to purchase some land in McHenry County, Illinois, and built a house and a barn. The Markazis maintained a couple of pastures for their daughters to keep and ride their horses, and decided to introduce some other farm animals to develop their farming experience. “As the kids moved on to college to pursue their undergraduate and later graduate degrees, we began to focus on expanding our farming business,” says Hamid.
Amy and Tony Jagla acquired a historic 10.5-acre farm in 2005, but it wasn’t until 2011 that they expanded their backyard chicken operation into a business. While producing food for their family, the couple realized just how much they enjoyed farming. Now, with the help of two of their three children, Katlin and Tyler (Justin is currently in the army), they raise 300–350 Dark Cornish chickens and 50 Cornish Game Hens for meat each year. They named their new venture Platypus Flats Ranch after the animal which, like their farm, is a little bit of everything, and the flat lands it sits on.
Sandra Sorensen manages AWA pigs at Sorensen Farm—40 acres of mixed pasture and woodland, situated about 10 miles east of Benton, Illinois. After working in the industry for decades, she eventually became disheartened: “I had always been concerned with the plight of meat animals,” she says. “I could not become a vegetarian, so I decided that I would make sure the animals that I raised would have humane treatment.” What started out a small venture has blossomed: “I now sell pasture-raised pork at local farmer’s market and directly from the farm.”