Animal Welfare Approved

AWA Grants for Farmers: Past Years

Animal Welfare Approved Good Husbandry Grant recipients are listed below. Profiles will be added as projects are completed.

 

2013-2014

Boggy Creek Farms, Ararat, NC: Genetic improvement
Cambridgeshire Farm, Oakboro, NC: Mobile housing
Cedar Creek Farm, Cedarville, AR: Breeding for pasture-based production
Circle O Livestock, LLC, Vale, OR: Mobile housing and shade
Cricket Creek Farm, Williamstown, MA: Breeding for pasture-based production
Cris-Co Farms, Gray, TN: Improved pasture management
D&A Farm, Autryville, NC: Genetic improvement
Deer Run Farm, Danville, VT: Mobile housing
Double R Farms, LLC, Asher, OK: Mobile housing
Granny Creek Farm, Lamar, AR: Infrastructure to expand pasture access
GrassRoots Pork Co., Beulaville, NC: Non-GMO feed production
Kauai Kunana Dairy, Kilauea, HI: Livestock guardian dogs for non-lethal predator control
Madrone Coast Farm, Felton, CA: Mobile housing
Majestic Farm, Mountain Dale, NY: Mobile housing
Nelson Family Farm, Zionville, NC: Breeding for pasture-based production
Platypus Flats Ranch, Shawano, WI: Mobile housing
Pockerchickory Farms, Union Grove, NC: Breeding for pasture-based production
Rising Phoenix Farm, Morning View, KY: Breeding for pasture-based production
Shelly’s Farm Fresh, Brentwood, CA: Improved pasture management
Simon Boers Chevon, LLC, Hagerman, ID: Breeding for pasture-based production
Swallow Rail Farm, Simpsonville, KY: Non-lethal predator control
The Taylor-Wright Farm, Brodnax, VA: Mobile housing
Vernal Vibe Rise, Renick, WV: Mobile housing
We Rent Goats, Boise, ID: Mobile kidding facility

2012-2013

Dixon Family Farms, Grifton, NC: Improved genetics and handling infrastructure, pigs
Emancipation Acres, Stoughton, WI: Improved mobile housing, chickens
Ferndell Farms, Newark, IL: Mobile housing, chickens
Fox Squirrel Farm, Eagle Springs, NC: Improved pasture utilization, chicken, goats, and pigs
Glendale Shepherd, Clinton, WA: Improved genetics, dairy sheep
Grazy Days Family Farm, Union Bridge, MD: Mobile housing, chickens
H&H Farms, Pink Hill, NC: Improved genetics, pigs
JMB Farms, South Samson, AL: Improved genetics, sheep
Koch Ranches, Inc., San Antonio, TX: Improved breeding stock, beef cattle
McCormack Sheep & Grain, Rio Vista, CA: Improved pasture utilization, sheep and goats
MJ Ranch, Lawrence, KS: Improved genetics, beef cattle
Mountain Lane Farm, Wauzeka, WI: Mobile housing, chickens
Nelson Family Farm, Quantico, MD: Improved genetics, goats
Pinnacle Hills Goat Farm, Pinnacle, NC: Improved genetics and pasture improvement, goats
Puddingstone Organics, Middleborough, MA: Improved rotation, chickens, goats, and pigs
Savannah River Farms, Sylvania, GA: Livestock protection and improvement, pigs, sheep, and cattle
Serenity Acres Farm, Pinetta, FL: Mobile hoop housing, chickens
Sylvan Dale Ranch, Loveland, CO: Improved genetics, beef cattle
The Happy Rooster Farm, LLC, Pilot, VA: Improved genetics and infrastructure, cattle, chickens, and pigs
Tiara Enterprise, Merritt Island, FL: Improved genetics, sheep
True Cost Farm, Inc., Montrose, MN: Mobile housing, chickens
Windy N Ranch, Ellensburg, WA: Mobile housing, chickens

2011-2012

1dr Acres Farm, Prairie du Sac, WI: portable fencing, improved genetics, non-lethal predator control, goats
Albert D. Jones Farm, Chinquapin, NC: mobile housing, pigs
Beedy Tree Farm, Calhan, CO: mobile housing, chickens
Circle O Livestock, Vale, OR: infrastructure improvements, goats, pigs, turkeys, chickens, cattle
Clover Creek Farm, Jonesborough, TN: mobile housing and shelter, sheep
Consider Bardwell Farm, West Pawlet, VT: mobile housing, goats and chickens
Cris-Co Farms, Gray, TN: mobile housing and shelter, sheep
CT Biological Weed and Brush Control, Inc., Wilder, ID: portable fencing, goats
Deck Family Farm, Junction City, OR: genetic improvement, beef cattle
Ebersole Cattle Co., Kellerton, IA: portable watering system, beef cattle
Edwards’ Goat Ranch, Knob Noster, MO: genetic improvement, goats
GingerSnap Hollow Farm, Harlem, GA: mobile housing, poultry
Harmony Sheep, La Cygne, KS: mobile housing and shelter, sheep and chickens
Hemmer Hill Farm, Crestwood, KY: increased outdoor access, sheep
Hog Heaven Farms, LLC, Avon Park, FL: infrastructure improvements, pigs
Indian Creek Angus, Carnesville, GA: shade shelter, beef cattle
Jamie Jacobs Farm, Clinton, NC: improved pasture access, pigs
Kingbird Farm, Berkshire, NY: genetic improvement, poultry
Leigh’s Pork and Beef, Plymouth, NC: mobile housing, pigs
Lindner Bison, CA: breeding stock, bison
Lovers Retreat Farm & Dairy, Saluda, VA: infrastructure improvements, goats
Meili Farm, Amenia, NY: mobile housing, laying hens
Millsaps Farm, Middleton, ID: genetic improvement, poultry
Minka Farm, Efland, NC: genetic improvement, poultry
Okfuskee Farm, Silk Hope, NC: infrastructure improvements, pigs
Palmetto Creek Farms, LLC, Avon Park, FL: mobile housing, pigs
Pereira Pastures Dairy, Abernathy, TX: infrastructure improvements, dairy cattle
Pine Hill, Hemmingford, Quebec : mobile housing, chickens
Sequatchie Cove Farm, Sequatchie, TN: genetic improvement, dairy cattle
SMI Farm, Sidney Center, NY: mobile housing, chickens
The Dixon Goat Ranch, Paris, KY: mobile housing, goats
The Gypsy Ranch, Altoona , AL: genetic improvement, poultry
This Lil’ Piggy Farm, Weirsdale, FL: mobile housing, pigs
Windy N Ranch, LLC, Ellensburg, WA: mobile housing, poultry
Windy Ridge Natural Farms, Alfred, NY: infrastructure improvements, poultry
Zitvogel Farms, Bridgeville, DE: mobile housing, chickens

2010-2011

A&J Farms, Fayette, NY, Viable outdoor access for poultry
Abundance Farm, Round Hill, VA, Improvements in the slaughter process
Acre Station Meat Farm, Pinetown, NC, New low-stress loading dock for livestock
Berry Creek Farm, Blanchard, OK, Mobile housing for pastured chickens
Blakes Landing Farms, Marshall, CA, Calf feeding automation improvements
Deutsch Family Farm, Osseo, WI, Improved housing for breeding stock hogs on pasture
Dutch James Farm, Mt. Hernon, LA, Infrastructure improvements to maximize welfare
Eagle Bridge Custom Meat and Smokehouse, Eagle Bridge, NY, Welfare improvements in the slaughter process
Ecotone Farm, Joelton, TN, Mobile processing unit
Finger Lakes Dexter Creamery, King Ferry, NY, Improved access to pasture for improved welfare
Foxhollow Poultry Farm, Elkhart, IA, On-farm hatchery
Fruitland American Meat, LLC, Doniphan, MO, Improved welfare by use of a chin lift system
GingerSnap Hollow Farms, Harlem, GA, Fencing and generator project
Grazin’ Angus Acres, Ghent, NY, Mobile chicken housing
Hens Nest Farm, Cottonwood, AZ, Narragansett turkey breeding program
High Ground Farm, Holly Springs, NC, Predator Control
John Smith Hill’s Farm, Spartanburg, SC, Improvements in processing
Joyner Farm, Faison, NC, Mobile shelter for pastured sheep production
Midsummer Farm, Warwick, NY, Heritage chicken breeding program
Nelson Land and Livestock, Wadesboro, NC, Mobile processing unit
Old Field Farm, Cornwallville, NY, Genetic improvement for pastured pig production
R. Turner Farms, Inc., Albertson, NC, Mobile housing for pastured hogs
River Rock Family Farm, South Weber, UT, Breeding program for heritage breed chickens/ducks
The Royal Butcher, Braintree, VT, New squeeze chute
SMI Farm, Masonville, NY, On-farm processing facilities
Terra Firma Farm, Stonington, CT, Pastured egg production
Williams Farm, Magnolia, NC, Utilizing Port-A-Huts on harvested cropland for hogs
Windy Ridge Natural Farms, Alfred, NY, Mobile henhouse for pastured laying hens

2009-2010

7B Bar Ranch, Roopville, GA, predator prevention
Albert D. Jones Farm, Chinquapin, NC, genetic improvement, pigs
Bedinger Farm, Catlin, IL, genetic improvement, sheep
Border Springs Farm, Patrick Springs, VA, genetic improvement, poultry
Carolina Heritage Farm, Pamplico, SC, outdoor access, pigs
Circle O Livestock, Vale, OR, genetic improvement, goats
Coulee View Farm, Wauzeka, WI, genetic improvement, poultry
D&A Farms, Autryville, NC, genetic improvement, pigs
Davis Creek Farm, Lovingston, VA, improvements in slaughter process
Delmar Farm, Enfield, NC, genetic improvement, beef cattle
Dogwood Nursery Farms, LLC, Maple Hill, NC, genetic improvement, poultry
DreamCatcher Farm, Louisville, KY, mobile housing, cattle, pigs and sheep
East Fork Farm, Marshall, NC, breeding system, rabbits
Eden Earthworks, Mountain View, HI, improvements in slaughter process
Ellis Family Farms, Benton Harbor, MI, pasture improvement, poultry
Generation Farm, Walnut Cove, NC, mobile housing and genetic improvement, goats/sheep
Grassy Way Organics, Arena, WI, mobile housing, cattle
H&H Farm, Pink Hill, NC, pasture rotation, pigs
Hight Farms, Macon, NC, mobile housing, pigs
HomeGrown Poultry LLC, New Plymouth, ID, improvements in slaughter process, poultry
JJR Family Farm, Tebbetts, MO, mobile housing, poultry
Jones Farms, GrassRoots Pork Co., Beaulaville, NC, genetic improvement, pigs
Lil’ Farm, Hillsborough, NC, mobile housing and feeding equipment, poultry
M.R. Goats, Worthington, WV, mobile housing, goats
Organic Pastures Dairy Co, LLC, Fresno, CA, mobile housing, cattle
Patient Wait Farms, Piedmont, SC, genetic improvement, poultry
The Boondockers Farm, Creswell, OR, genetic improvement, poultry
Vargo Farms, Bullock, NC, mobile housing, pigs
Yoder’s Natural Farm, Bloomfield, IA, improved pasture and water access, cattle and poultry

2008-2009

B&B Farms, Grinnell, IA
Becker Lane Organic Farm, Dyersville, IA
Bellecreek Farm, Rosharon, TX
Breezy Oaks Farm, Mebane, NC
Cane Creek Farm, Snow Camp, NC
Catalpa Farm, Columbia City, IN
Cedar Meadow Farm, Ledyard, CT
Chaudhry Halal Meats, Siler City, NC
Cota Farms, Cardington, OH
D&A Williams Farms, Autryville, NC
Dogwood Nursery Farms, Maple Hill, NC
Doolittle Farm, Shoreham, VT
Eastern Plains Natural Food Co-op, Bennett, CO
Flying Pigs Farm, Shushan, NY
Fowl Attitude Farm, Cedar Grove, NC
Fruitland American Meat, LLC, Jackson, MO
Hasselmann Family Farms, Marengo, IL
High Country Meats, Raton, NM
Howe Farms, Thurman, IA
Independent Small Animal Meat Processors Association, Fairview, NC
Laughlin Ranch, Crawford, NE
Lester J. Huls Farm, Carthage, IL
Midsummer Farm, Warwick, NY
O’Brien Farms, Tilden, NE
Parker Farms, Hurdle Mills, NC
Perry Farms, Troutman, NC
Petersen Farms, Decatur, MI
S&L Farm, Louisburg, NC
Stone and Thistle Farm, East Meredith, NY
Thundering Hooves Ranch, Walla Walla, WA
Upstate Farmers Alliance, Pauline, SC
Valley End Farm, Santa Rosa, CA
Veritas Farms, New Paltz, NY
Wild Turkey Farms, Salisbury, NC

Cherrie Nolden, 1dr Acres Farm: Portable Fencing, Improved Genetics, Non-Lethal Predator Control, Goats

1dr Acres grant photo

Cherrie and Lee Nolden raise meat goats, meat sheep and laying hens on 1dr Acres Farm in Prairie du Sac, WI. The couple takes pride in their high-welfare, pasture-based management practices. Since they began farming together in 2001, they have continually sought to improve their farming methods through careful observation and research.

Goats are browsing animals: This means that a large portion of their diet would naturally consist of leaves, soft shoots, and fruits of woody plants, such as shrubs. Grazing animals, such as cattle or sheep, feed mainly on grass or other low vegetation, although they will occasionally browse on bushes and low hanging trees. One of the major challenges that Cherrie noted in her operation was that goats will quickly consume all the brush and forbs on a landowner’s property, eating themselves out of quality forage. Simultaneously, she observed that controlling brush and invasive plant species is a significant problem on private and public lands, but landowners often relied upon environmentally-damaging chemical herbicides and large equipment to control the problem. Although livestock-based brush control enterprises do exist in the Southwest and Northwest of the U.S., Cherrie noted that there was little research and information available regarding similar operations in the Midwest.

With funding through AWA’s Good Husbandry Grant program to purchase moveable electric fencing, Cherrie was able to pursue an in-depth research project using groups of 1dr Acres goats (and those of another family farm) to rotationally browse brush-invaded lands owned by the USDA Dairy Forage Research Center, near Madison, WI. During the first year of this 3–8 year research project, Cherrie monitored the health and welfare of the goats, including their body condition, resistance to parasites, birthing and kid mortality rates, and predation. Cherrie explains that her findings were “exceptional” and more than verified the welfare benefits to goats that proper feed, close management, attention to genetics, and well-trained guardian dogs could achieve, as well as the significant ecological benefits of using goats as natural browsers to control brush and invasive weed species.

Throughout 2012, Cherrie spoke publicly at over 25 conferences and workshops about her research and gave numerous tours of the research paddocks. She plans to continue to perfect her goat breeding stock and to supply animals to other AWA farmers. Cherrie is also hoping to begin a graduate program in Animal Science in the coming year to continue this line of research.

“The AWA Good Husbandry Grant was incredibly helpful to me, my operation, and my livestock,” says Cherrie, “and I expect that it will have ripple effects for years to come. I cannot thank you enough for your support!”

Albert Jones, Albert D. Jones Farm: Mobile Housing for Pasture and Herd Management

AWA-certified Albert D. Jones Farm raises pastured hogs in Chinquapin, North Carolina, for the North Carolina Natural Hog Growers Association, a local farmer-owned marketing cooperative. Albert Jones grew up on a farm and has been raising hogs on pasture since childhood.

Albert applied for an AWA Good Husbandry Grant to build portable huts. Access to effective shelter improves pig welfare by protecting them from weather, while having moveable shelter allows Albert to rotate his hogs to new pasture, providing clean ground for the pigs and minimizing the risk of excessive damage to the pasture.

Albert hopes that his own success with portable hog shelter will raise awareness among other farmers in his co-op of their benefits. He is delighted to have received this grant and appreciates AWA’s continued support of pasture-based farming.

Chris Wilson, Clover Creek Farm: Mobile Housing and Shelter, Sheep

Clover Creek picture sheep in shed

Chris and Ray Wilson and their daughter, Sarah, raise meat sheep and laying hens on pasture at Clover Creek Farm in Jonesborough, TN. Practicing rotational grazing to maintain the health of their animals and land is an important part of the farm’s animal husbandry practices. Until recently, many of the fields lacked sufficient natural shade or shelter for their sheep, causing the sheep to graze mostly in the early morning and late afternoon when the temperatures are cooler.

Chris applied to AWA’s grant program for funds to build moveable shade structures for her sheep. Since adding the moveable shade structures, Chris has noted a very positive effect on the animals’ welfare: “The sheep graze more in the summer because they can return to nearby shade as they feel it necessary, and by moving the shelters we can ensure the sheep always have a clean place to rest.”

“Receiving AWA’s Good Husbandry Grant has already had a great impact on the farm’s finances,” Chris says. “We would not have been able to provide shade for our sheep in three fields without help from AWA.”

Angela Miller, Consider Bardwell Farm: Mobile Doeling Housing, Goats

Angela Miller and the other farmers at Consider Bardwell Farm in West Pawlet, VT, raise Oberhaslis dairy goats and use the milk to make a range of award-winning goat cheeses. Consider Bardwell’s doelings—young does chosen for their excellent genetics to join the milking herd—have always been housed in a barn with free access to a large barnyard. However, this has led to a problem which Angela calls the “barnyard effect.” The problem is that it was difficult to ensure the doelings had access to fresh pasture, leading to a greater risk of exposing the young does to minute internal parasites, which can rapidly multiply in numbers in regularly used pasture and result in ill health and low weight gain. Severe parasite exposure at a young age can also effect overall milk production and life expectancy, so Angela applied for to the AWA grant program to help build mobile housing for their doelings.

With funding through AWA’s Good Husbandry Grant program, the farmers at Consider Bardwell were able to introduce mobile housing for the young does. This has allowed the farmers to rotate the doelings to a new grazing paddock every two days, thereby eliminating the “barnyard effect” by minimizing build-up of internal parasites in any one area. The housing provides their young animals with shade and shelter, as well as access to higher-quality forage. The farmers are already seeing improvement in Consider Bardwell’s doeling population: “By being able to rotate the doelings on pasture we have been able to reduce our reliance on chemical wormers,” says Angela. “In addition, we have observed better weight gains and overall health in our doelings than in previous years.”

Tim Linquist, CT Biological Weed and Brush Control, Inc.: Mobile Fencing for Animal Welfare and Parasite Reduction in Winter, Goats

Tim and Lynda Linquist and their sons, Cody and Ty, raise 300 Boar Spanish Cross goats on their farm near Wilder, ID. They transport the goats to different locations to provide weed and brush control which would otherwise be managed using chemical herbicides and equipment. The Linquists are proud that their goats meet AWA’s standards for the highest animal welfare and live outdoors on pasture all year long. Until recently, CT Biological’s goats were brought into a small pasture to feed hay during the winter, limiting the amount of fresh grass and forage the animals were able to graze and browse, impacting the pasture’s health and quality, and increasing parasite problems within the herd.

In order to improve his goats’ health and welfare, Tim applied to AWA’s Good Husbandry Grant program to buy electric netting so that goats can be regularly moved to new pastures. Tim says that the moveable netting means his goats “are never held in one area for more than a couple of days, leading to a very low parasite challenge all year.” Combined with the institution of a new winter rotational system, the Linquists have been able to decrease their need to treat goats with chemical wormers to just one treatment in 2012.

“The AWA Good Husbandry Grant program definitely helped improved welfare on our operation,” says Tim. “The goats were much happier and calmer, exhibiting their natural behaviors of grazing and browsing.”

John Deck, Deck Family Farm: Improvements in Galloway Breeding Stock, Beef Cattle

Christine and John Deck began raising black, tan, and brown Galloway beef cattle at their farm near Junction City, OR, in 2007. The Galloway breed is well-adapted to the hot summers and cold and wet winters of Oregon and their smaller birth weights for calves leads to fewer problems requiring human intervention in calving. However, Christine and John encountered a serious issue in their Galloway breeding program when they found that majority of the Galloway cattle available in the western U.S. were genetically related. In order to ensure the future health and vitality of their herd, the Decks applied to AWA’s Good Husbandry Grant program to enable them to expand their search for genetically distinct bulls to the eastern U.S.

With support from their AWA Good Husbandry Grant, Christine and John were able to buy breeding stock that diversified and improved the genetics of their Galloway herd. John recognizes that better adapted animals are happier and healthier, thereby benefitting his farm’s viability. “Having happier, more comfortable animals translates to better weight gains, which has a positive impact on the farm’s cashflow,” says John.

Joyce Keibler, Hemmer Hill Farm: Improvements of Grassfed Sheep Operation through Effective Rotational Grazing

Joyce Keibler raises sheep on pasture at Hemmer Hill Farm in Crestwood, Kentucky. While Joyce and her husband, Gary, have always prioritized the health of their pastures and rotationally grazed their sheep, it was a difficult and ineffective system, because they did not have adequate shade, water or portable fencing to properly rotate lambs.

Joyce applied for an AWA Good Husbandry Grant to make various improvements to her pastures that would allow her to subdivide larger pastures and better manage the flock. Joyce was able to create moveable shade “sails” which can follow sheep to pastures where there is little natural shade. She has also installed a new water system which supplies fresh water to her livestock wherever they are, while new portable fencing allows her to easily move and manage her sheep.

Since making these improvements, Joyce says, “My livestock are now happier to graze new fresh grasses every few days. Beside better nutrition, rotational grazing cuts down on internal parasite and grass fungus problems, therefore providing better, cleaner pastures for my lambs and sheep. My pastures are in better shape, with an increase in new grasses and reduced weed growth.”

In addition to improved pastures and healthier, happier sheep, Joyce believes her profits will improve since her ability to rotationally graze more effectively will mean that they won’t have to supplement their grassfed flock with hay until late winter. This saves money and is better for the sheep, and her customers love grassfed lamb: “I get regular compliments that the meat is sweet, lean and more fine-grained.”

Dennis Barron, Indian Creek Angus: Shade Shelter, Beef Cattle

DIndian Creek grant photoennis Barron and Carol Corbin, along with Dennis’s son, Denny, raise AWA Black Angus cattle on pasture in Carnesville, GA. They believe that cattle should be bred and raised with high-welfare practices, in a natural and low-stress environment. Until recently, two of the farm’s main pastures did not have enough shade in the summer for their cattle. To stay out of the sun, the cattle had to gather together under the few trees at the perimeter of these pastures, effecting their comfort and ability to stay cool in the hottest parts of the day and leading to uneven grazing.

Dennis applied to AWA’s Good Husbandry Grant program to build a shade shed, accessible from both pastures, with plenty of space for his cattle to spread out and stay cool. Dennis observed an immediate improvement in the animals’ welfare when the shed was built: “It was quite a sight to see them head straight into it on the first day we opened the pasture to them,” says Dennis. “The calves played around the dirt pile nearby and the mothers fanned themselves in the shade. Sometimes it is hard to get them to leave it!”

The shed will not only serve as a useful management tool by enabling the Dennis’ to easily handle and sort their cattle at key times, but it will also help to market the farm’s products. Since it can be seen from I-85, which runs past Indian Creek Angus land, Dennis explains that they plan to paint “Grassfed Beef” and include the farm website on the structure to increase the farm’s visibility. Dennis, Carol and Denny are so pleased with the results from the new shade shed that they look forward to sharing their knowledge with other producers to help improve animal welfare on other farms.

Kathy and Ken Lindner, Lindner Bison: Improvements in Breeding Stock

Kathy and Ken Lindner raise AWA-certified bison on Heritage Ranch in northeast California. They raise a closed herd of bison, which means that since establishing their herd, they haven’t brought in any new bison to avoid the introduction of new diseases. But while the herd was safe from outside influences, it has resulted in the potential risk of in-breeding, which ultimately could lead to a less healthy and productive herd.

Kathy and Ken applied for an AWA Good Husbandry Grant to introduce new genetics to their bison herd. The grant allowed them to purchase a proven bull from a quality breeder to “freshen” their herd. They see this as a preventative measure: “We haven’t experienced any genetic defects in their herd thus farm, and this new bloodline should help keep it that way,” says Ken. They expect that the strengthening of the genetic pool of their bison herd will not only prevent potential health and productivity oissues, but will result in more calves and, in the long run, larger meat animals.

Debbie Millsaps, Millsaps Farm: Genetic Improvements through On-Farm Incubating/Hatching from a Local Family Farm, Laying Hens

Debbie and Mark Millsaps’s flock of pasture-raised laying hens include Brahma, Americana, Welsummer, Naked Neck, Black Cuckoo Maran, Barred Plymouth Rock, and Delaware breeds. Although the hens at Millsaps Farm are able to roam free and peck and scratch for grubs and seeds and dust bathe on pasture, Debbie was not satisfied with their reliance on commercial hatcheries to buy in chicks to replenish the flock.

In order to improve the welfare of her laying hens and to raise chickens that are best-adapted to the conditions on Millsaps Farm, Debbie applied to the AWA Good Husbandry Grant program to buy an incubator so that the farm can hatch their own chicks, as well as to enable them to build additional mobile housing and fencing to ensure better pasture access for their expanding flock. Hatching birds on-farm eliminates the need to order young chicks from hatcheries, which often have to be transported long distances to farms. In addition, hatching their own breeding stock will allow Debbie and Mark to breed chicks using only the healthiest, most productive adult birds, ensuring future hens will thrive in the specific conditions on their farm.

The Millsaps are already pleased with the results of their on-farm incubating and hatching operation and look forward to not only meeting their own need for chicks, but to supply chicks to other local family farms, including AWA-certified farms. Debbie also believes that their on-farm hatching operation will be further rewarded by the increased loyalty of their customers who “demand high-welfare, truly range-free chickens.”

Jim Wood, Palmetto Creek Farms LLC: Mobile Housing for Pasture and Herd Management

Jim Wood raises hogs at Palmetto Creek Farms LLC in Avon Park, Florida. He applied for an AWA Good Husbandry Grant to build huts for his hogs in order to protect them from inclement weather.

The new huts keep his animals cooler in warm weather, warmer in cool weather, and drier in wet weather. The hogs can choose of their own free will as to how to remain as comfortable as possible. As well as improving the welfare of the hogs, having adequate housing for all animals has lessened the stress on the farmers at Palmetto Creek by decreasing their workload, as they no longer have to move huts to pigs or move pigs to huts as frequently.

Dominick and Jeanette Siniscalchi, SMI Farm: Mobile Chicken Housing for Pasture and Flock Management

Dominick and Jeanette Siniscalchi have been raising livestock on their farm in Delaware County, New York, since 1988. In addition to beef cattle, they raise dairy goats and laying hens. The couple applied for an AWA Good Husbandry Grant to help them to integrate their laying hen operation into a rotational system with their beef cattle.

With grant funds, Dominick and Jeanette built an additional moveable chicken coop that will allow them to move their chicken flock to follow the cattle around the farm. Chickens will help spread the manure left by the cattle and eat insect larvae, which will help to decrease cattle pest populations such as biting flies. This lightens the workload at SMI Farm since the Siniscalchis won’t have to spread manure themselves, and benefits the chickens, which love to eat the grubs they find. Dominick and Jeanette are also able to move the flock more easily, so the birds will have better access to pasture to graze and range. The new housing will also allow for a larger flock of laying hens, thereby increasing egg production.

Kim and Cricket Adams, The Gypsy Ranch: On-farm Incubating/Hatchery

Kim and Cricket Adams raise AWA-certified laying hens on 16 acres of pasture and grow produce on 10 acres for local farmers’ markets, stores and a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture, or subscription-based sales) in Altoona, Alabama. Until recently, the Adamses had to order replacements for their laying hen flock from hatcheries that would ship chicks to their local post office. While they picked them up promptly, and used the highest welfare practices once they received them, the couple had no control over the birds’ lives until they arrived.

Kim and Cricket applied for an AWA Good Husbandry Grant to build an on-farm hatchery to produce different breeds for themselves and other local farmers. The grant allowed them to build an 8’ by 8’ chick house for young birds, and an 8’ by 12’ room for hatching, with full temperature control and water delivery. The grant also funded the creation of a 300’ by 300’ pasture with a mixture of grasses and other types of vegetation to improve bird nutrition and encourage full use of the range.

The Adamses hoped that developing an on-farm breeding program will reduce the chicks’ stress and lead to healthier, more productive flocks. “The hatchery is actually doing better than we anticipated!” says Kim. “The birds have a much better personality than the birds we were buying. We have sold a few chicks to other farmers and we’ve gotten great reviews.”

In conjunction with improvements in pasture management, their new breeding program has led to decreased loss of birds, improvements in flock health, and increased egg production. Now the Adamses are thinking about adding a flock of meat birds to the farm, which has been featured in newspapers locally and as far away as Texas—and they’re even receiving calls from the UK! Their farm-hatched eggs also recently won first place in the Buffalo County Fair.

Rhonda Williams, This Lil’ Piggy Farm: Mobile Housing for Improved Pasture and Herd Management, Pigs

Millsaps Grant photoThis Lil’ Piggy Farm, located in Weirsdale, FL, is owned and operated by Rhonda Williams, who breeds and raises traditional Yorkshire, Duroc, Spots and cross-bred pigs. Although Rhonda believes deeply in the benefit of pasture-raising her hogs, she found it challenging to ensure that her pregnant sows, postpartum sows, and new piglets had access to the highest-quality pastures but remained safe and stress-free when they had to mix with boars and un-bred sows. Sows can be particularly protective of their piglets after giving birth, which can sometimes lead to fighting with other pigs.

Rhonda applied to AWA’s Good Husbandry Grant program to enable her to build additional mobile housing and fencing so that she can partition sows and piglets for optimal safety and comfort. Separating pregnant and post-partum sows enables Rhonda to ensure they remain safe and happy, without the risk of aggressive contact from other pigs. The new fencing and mobile housing encourages sows to an easy transition back into the breeding herd after they have given birth, while they get some well-deserved pampering as they get back to a healthy weight and proper nutritional status. Rhonda explains that being able to keep her newly weaned piglets up to feeder-size pigs separate has allowed them to perform their natural behaviors without competition from larger pigs: “The changes have allowed the piglets to do what pigs do best! Lots of rootin’, playin’, exploring, swimming in a safe, large pasture,” she says.

In addition to the direct benefits to the farm and animal welfare, Rhonda says that the grant has also resulted in greater recognition from the local community: “It’s been a positive advertisement not only for our farm, but also for the AWA program. It’s awesome to see the interest we get from other small farms when they find out our farm and our husbandry techniques have been recognized by AWA.”

Albert D. Jones, Albert D. Jones Farm: Genetic Improvement, Pigs, $1,550

Albert D. Jones raises Duroc, Berkshire, and Chester White swine in Chinquapin, North Carolina. His farm sits on forty acres of woods and pastures where the hogs are free to roam and forage. AD Jones Farm has been in operation for forty-six years. Jones applied for the Good Husbandry Grant in order to improve his breeding stock.

“Good breeding is hard to obtain, as it is not available in North Carolina” explains Jones. “The cost of breeding stock, which includes transportation, is high.” Jones is constantly striving to improve his stock, and applied for an AWA Good Husbandry Grant to purchase and transport two new pigs. Incorporation of these new genetics into his herd has positively impacted his pigs’ body length, loin, mothering abilities and growth. The improvements are beneficial to both animal and farmer. “This project will benefit the animals because there will be less crushing and crippling of young pigs because the sows will have good mothering abilities,” says Jones. The other attributes will help increase meat quality and improve the profitability of the operation. Jones reports that the results of the new genetics have been positive. “The new boars have increased litter size,” says Jones. “The quality of the pigs is good.”

Rob and Michelle Stokes, Circle O Livestock: Genetic Improvement, Goats, $5,000

circle o 300Rob and Michelle Stokes of Circle O Livestock in Vale, Oregon raise Boer and Boer/Spanish cross goats. Circle O sits on 265 acres of irrigated and dryland pasture and hay fields, allowing for rotational grazing and natural ranging. Over the past several years, the Stokes family built their herd up to almost 500 goats, and in doing so, became more aware of the presence of Johne’s Disease in their herd. Johne’s Disease, which affects ruminants, is caused by a contagious bacterium found in the small intestine.  The disease can cause weight loss, decreased milk production, roughening of the hair coat, diarrhea, and wasting. Goats from all four herds tested positive for Johne’s, which resulted in a severe reduction of their herd.  “Our goal in applying for this grant was to source healthy individuals with superior genetics to begin improving our operation and others,” says Rob.

With the Grant, Circle O was able to purchase fifteen purebred goats to add to their herd. In addition to the new goats, Rob and Michelle were able to conduct extensive testing for Johne’s Disease.  The results have been very positive. “Last year was the first year we had been able to keep female replacements that were free of Johne’s,” says Rob. “Our animals are healthier and we feel that makes them happier.”

Tony Francis, Delmar Farm: Genetic Improvement, Beef Cattle, $2,500

Delmar Grant 220Tony Francis of Delmar Farm wanted to raise 100% grassfed cattle, without subtherapeutic antibiotics or added hormones, to produce all-natural, AWA, grassfed beef. Tony was finding that the cattle on his farm in Enfield, NC, were not finishing well on grass pastures after weaning so he decided to change the breed. He applied to the AWA grant program for two Red Angus cows whose genetics are better suited for a pasture-based environment.

AWA awarded $2,500 to Delmar Farm for the new animals. Animals now thrive on mineral and forage with less stress and have better body scores. These traits will be passed down from generation to generation, allowing Tony to raise grassfed, pastured cattle for many years to come.

Neena and Atto Roumell, Eden Earthworks: Mobile Processing Unit, $5,000

Eden Earthworks grant 300Eden Earthworks is a sustainable, eco-friendly organic farm in the heart of the highest food-insecure region on the island of Hawaii. Owners Neena and Atto Roumell strive to promote healthy human-ecological relationships while contributing to their local food system. The farmers applied to the AWA grant program for improvements in the chicken slaughter process, with the goal of maximizing food safety and increasing the quality of their meat products – while also encouraging other farmers in their community to adopt high-welfare processing methods.

AWA awarded $5,000 to Eden Earthworks for a complete poultry processing unit, including a stunning knife to ensure high-welfare slaughter. They invite others to observe the process, including community garden participants, university interns, 4-H students, and other interested farmers. “We are looking forward to encouraging a ripple effect throughout our community,” says Neena.

John and Julie Rice, JJR Family Farm: Mobile Housing, Laying Hens, $2,825

JJR picture 299John and Julie Rice of JJR Family Farm raise organic, free-range laying hens in Tebbetts, Missouri. Due to increased demand and limited housing options the Rices had moved the flock into a barn that had “less than ideal poultry facilities.” Drawbacks of this housing included limited outdoor access and increased susceptibility to predator attacks.

The Rices applied for a Good Husbandry Grant to create two mobile, 8’x12’ predator-proof laying houses with outside runs. These laying houses would give their poultry much more outdoor access, and would enable them to comply with AWA standards while keeping up with the increased demand for the farm’s eggs.

According to the Rices, the mobile laying houses have been incredibly beneficial to the animals and the farm. “These houses have made raising pastured poultry easier,” say the Rices, “and the project has allowed us to keep up with the demand for pastured poultry.”

Mike and Lorie Renick, M.R. Goats: Mobile Housing, $5,000

MR Goats grant 232M.R. Goats is an 80-acre meat goat farm owned and operated by Mike and Lorie Renick in Worthington, West Virginia. The couple raised Kiko goats on pasture, but only had limited fixed structures to use as shelter which reduced the goats’ ability to rotationally graze year round. The Renicks approached AWA about funding mobile housing to allow the goats access to more acreage and forage, thereby improving the animals’ health. They also requested a portable handling system to decrease handling time and reduce stress to the animals.

AWA granted $5,000 to M.R. Goats for Port-A-Hut mobile shelters and a working stand and chute for low-stress handling and transport. The Renicks’ goats now have 24/7 access to mobile housing units and are able to access all pastures for rotational grazing. “They are able to come and go as they please,” says Mike. “They are much healthier and have lower stress.”

Kallan and KayDee Maxwell, Grassy Way Organics: Portable Calf Hutches, $3,935

The Maxwells live in Arena, Wisconsin where they raise beef cattle on their farm, Grassy Way Organics. Prior to receiving a Good Husbandry Grant Kallan and KayDee housed their calves individually in huts. This collected manure, required frequent changes of bedding materials, attracted flies and also isolated the calves.

Unhappy with this scenario, the two used their grant to build portable outdoor hutches for the calves to be housed in groups on pasture. Kallan and KayDee report that the calves are excited with their new access to the outdoors and expect them to begin grazing at a younger age. Their manure is spread out evenly on the fields now, and a flock of laying hens spreads it further, reducing fly infestations. In addition Kallan and KayDee have found feeding the calves in groups to be more efficient.

“Our calves were so happy to be let free into the pasture to run,” the Maxwells reported. “They get plenty of exercise and have adequate shelter to lie in when it is raining or to escape from the sun when it is hot.” The new portable shelters have made a huge difference in the lives of the Maxwells’ calves, but this farm improvement has made a difference for Kallan and KayDee as well. They are thrilled to be continually improving the efficiency of their farm and the lives of their cattle.

Gail and Mike Cooley, Patient Wait Farm: Incubator and Mobile Coop, $4,850

patientGail and Mike Cooley are the owners of Patient Wait Farm in Piedmont, South Carolina. They operate a combined laying hen and turkey farm, but in recent years became concerned about mail-ordering their turkey poults. Although they hoped to move away from this practice because of the stress put on the young turkeys, they found time and again that there were no farms selling poults locally that would thrive on pasture.

In order to improve the welfare of their turkeys Gail and Mike decided to raise their own poults on the farm. They received a Good Husbandry Grant that was used to build a mobile coop for their breeding flock as well as a reliable incubator. The turkeys are able to move into the coop during the day for some shade or relaxation, or to leave to do some bug hunting on pasture. They remain in the coop at night to protect them from predators.

Gail and Mike are excited not only to be able to discontinue ordering young turkeys through the mail, but to also give that opportunity to other South Carolina farmers. Gail explains, “We have already supplied a couple farms with poults, as well as another hatchery with eggs to serve the lower half of the state. And while this year we are filling small orders we are also focusing on educating and empowering other family farms to do what we are doing.”

Mark and Aaron McAfee, Organic Pastures: Calf Hutches, $4,410

pastures1Organic Pastures is a dairy farm in Fresno, California. Mark and Aaron McAfee, along with the help of their whole family, produce raw organic milk from pasture-raised heifers, as well as value-added products such as butter and cream. After becoming Animal Welfare Approved, the McAfee’s decided they needed to change the way they raised their calves and heifers. Without enough space for good health, their overcrowded herd of dairy cattle and calves suffered from some common ailments like pink eye and diarrhea.

The McAfees applied for a Good Husbandry Grant to create more space for their herd, and to improve their overall wellbeing. After using the grant to build calf hutches twice as large and with fewer animals per pen, the farm nutritionist noticed a substantial improvement in health. In addition, a new heifer pen built on pasture has allowed them more grazing space.

These improvements have not only positively impacted the cows’ health, but have also made the farm itself more marketable. Organic Pastures offers free farm tours, and the McAfee’s now feel that their pens and hutches reflect their farm values while demonstrating their Animal Welfare Approved certification.

Robert Yoder, Yoder’s Natural Farm: Improved Pasture and Water Access, $3,964

yoder1Robert Yoder, owner of Yoder’s Natural Farm, used his Good Husbandry Grant to build a creek crossing for his cattle and chickens. Prior to obtaining the grant, the creek bed was often too muddy and eroded for Robert and the animals to navigate. Now he is happy to observe his cattle easily traversing the landscape to fresh pasture and also using the creek for clean drinking water. “They have stable footing and don’t have to wade through mud to get across. And I can easily follow the cattle with the chicken flock now as they graze, mimicking nature,” he explains. Robert is excited for this new project to help not only with the animals’ welfare and mobility, but also with hauling hay and manure to pasture.

Steve Petersen, Steve Petersen Farm: Mobile Housing, Pigs, $5,000

petersen 300Steve Petersen raises mixed Berkshire, Duroc and Chester White hogs on his farm in Decatur, Michigan. Located on 227 rolling acres, Petersen’s farm has been in operation for over thirty year. With the increasing demand for his pastured pork, Petersen realized that he would need to begin farrowing hogs in the winter; a more challenging endeavor in the cold weather as many piglets were not surviving the chill before they were able to wean off their mothers. In order to decrease piglet mortality Petersen applied for an AWA Good Husbandry grant to purchase Smidley farrowing houses. These mobile structures are safe, secure, draft-free houses that allow sows to birth their piglets and keep them alive pre-weaning.

With the grant from Animal Welfare Approved, Petersen was able to purchase 20 Smidley farrowing houses for his farm, and the results have been positive.  “With the increased survival of baby pigs, the overall profitability of the farm should improve,” says Petersen. The Petersens have also moved the huts closer to the family’s house. Steve explains, “This allows us to keep closer track of farrowing and to showcase our pasture pig operation to visitors.”

Lee Dixon, High Country Meats: Welfare Improvements in the Slaughter Process, $5,000

Lee Dixon and his wife Alexis operate High Country Meats, a privately owned family meat processing operation in Raton, New Mexico that has been in business for fifteen years. High Country Meats prides itself on commitment to quality assurance; it is USDA-inspected and all work is overseen by the Dixons. High-welfare slaughter is a vital part of High Country Meats’ operation, and to maintain this commitment some updates to their handling pens were needed.High Country Meats grant final report 4

“The biggest challenge at High Country Meats was the flow of animals into and around the livestock holding area and kill box,” say the Dixons.  The area was dark and open, creating shadows that scared the animals. With funds from AWA’s Good Husbandry Grant program the Dixons were able to completely redesign the holing are to drastically improve animal welfare. “Animals now move naturally and quietly through curved solid panels, entering the holding area and continuing to the kill box on their own will. Improving the lighting in the kill box also encourages animals to now flow naturally to this spot,” explain the Dixons. The improvements have reduced stress for animals and workers at High Country Meats.

From a business standpoint, the Dixons note that they get more inquiries about how the animals are treated. Lee says, “I’m proud that I can now inform customers of the humane handling standards used at our operation, and that we follow the standards of Animal Welfare Approved.”

Independent Small Animal Meat Processors Association: Stunner, $2,500

The recent explosion in demand for pasture raised chickens, turkeys, and rabbits has opened new markets for independent farmers in Western North Carolina. However there is a shortage of state and federally inspected slaughter facilities accessible to farmers. The Independent Small Animal Meat Processors Association (ISAMPA) in Fairview, NC worked with multiple stakeholders to create a plan for addressing this shortage, and in 2009 ISAMPA began construction on the Foothills Pilot Plant, a facility that would serve independent poultry and rabbit growers of the region. AWA was able to provide $2,500 toward this project for an electric stunner to ensure that chickens, turkeys, and rabbits will be stunned before slaughter, according to AWA standards. ISAMPA members and customers will learn about how animals are treated during processing, raising awareness of high-welfare standards on the farm as well.

Lee Menius, Wild Turkey Farms: Mobile Processing Unit, $8,000

mpu workshop 012 300At the time of the grant North Carolina had only one inspected poultry plant that was accessible to small-scale farmers. Due to this shortage of inspected facilities, many farmers process poultry on the farm under the processing exemption. Because proper equipment to ensure humane and sanitary conditions can be cost-prohibitive, Lee Menius of Wild Turkey Farms applied for AWA grant funds to build a Mobile Processing Unit (MPU) to be shared among farmers in his region.

AWA granted $8,000 to Menius to construct the MPU, which is mounted on a trailer for easy transport from farm to farm. AWA also awarded a pneumatic stunner to ensure that the poultry slaughtered at the MPU will be done so according to AWA standards, and farmers renting the unit will be trained in its use. The MPU makes small-scale processing more accessible to area farmers and increases marketing options for independent pastured poultry farmers.

Steve Howe, Howe Farms: Portable Housing, $800

Steve Howe raises crossbred hogs and row crops on his farm in Iowa. He applied for a Good Husbandry Grant to improve his hogs’ access to forage while utilizing the natural resources on his own land. Looking at the corn rows left over after harvest, Steve decided he would fence in the 90 acres of fields and allow his hogs to have the leftover stalks. In addition he would plant alfalfa for farrowing sows to dine on, and tasty cover crops for the other pigs. He applied in his Good Husbandry Grant specifically to put portable housing in the fields so the hogs could find shelter while foraging.

Prior to receiving the grant, Steve was raising his hogs in lots that were mostly dirt. This was costly both to the animals’ health and in feed costs. Not only has the new pasture reduced Steve’s feed bill, but it has also allowed him to break the parasite cycle naturally and easily replace old bedding. The hogs have benefited greatly from this upgrade which has also improved the farm’s viability. It is now more efficient for the hogs to be rotated and easier for Steve to keep them clean and healthy.

Suzanne Castello and Robert Bahrenfuse, B&B Farms: Mobile Housing, $5,000

B&B Farm grant picSuzanne and Robert raise pastured pigs in Iowa; however they had been running into complications when their sows were farrowing. Suzanne and Robert used their Good Husbandry Grant to build 12 farrowing huts that were designed to maximize the safety of both the young pigs and the mother. Indeed, they happily found that once the huts were constructed the pigs made soft nests inside and lay down with their noses to the door.

To further maximize the pigs’ welfare on pasture Suzanne and Robert also plan to install a water pipeline for easily accessible fresh water. A wet season delayed this construction, but they plan to move ahead with the project as spring arrives and the ground begins to settle. Once there is no risk of cracking pipes they will finish cementing the water lines and be able to pipe fresh water directly to their pastures.

Bay Hammond, Doolittle Farm: On-Farm Hatchery, $4,730

Bay Hammond of Doolittle Farm applied for a Good Husbandry Grant to enhance her farm’s ability to produce poultry from “egg to table”. With the encouragement of her family and local support in her community for pasture-raised, sustainable products, Bay decided it was the right time to expand into the niche market for slow-growing, heritage meat products. doolittle birdsLargely out of a desire to get off of the commodity grid, Bay and her family decided that part of this process was switching their chicken flock from the commercial Cornish breed to a slow-growing breed that could sustain itself easily by foraging on pasture, and thus reduce their reliance on grain.

While moving to a more sustainable breed of poultry was important, being able to raise and process their chickens and turkeys on-farm held equal weight. For this reason Doolittle Farm purchased more advanced processing equipment, as well as an incubator, transportation cages for processing, and range feeders to enhance feed access on pasture. The Hammond family hopes to breed and sell slow-growing chicks and heritage turkeys within the community, and to offer their upgraded processing facility to neighbors looking to raise their own meat. In addition, they are now proud to offer poultry meat that has been born and raised on their own farm, and to support breeds of birds adapted to life outdoors on range.

Brian and Julia Cronin, Cedar Meadow Farm: On-Farm Hatchery, $812

Julia and Brian Cronin of Cedar Meadow Farm received a 2009 Good Husbandry Grant to build an on-farm hatchery. Conventionally, day-old chicks are sent to farmers through the United States Postal Service. This method can be high in stress for a number of reasons including exposure to inclement weather and tight confinement. Although Julia and Brian never experienced any shipment disasters they felt that for the chicks’ welfare, starting their own hatchery was important.

Already, Julia says, the chicks seem healthier. “We are experiencing a much lower rate of 5 day mortality hatching chicks on the farm, compared to having them shipped to us. We also have a larger degree of control over the quality of birds we hatch and raise, and can focus on heritage breeds.” Julia and Brian are using their learning experience to teach others, giving eggs to classrooms for children to hatch, and then having the birds returned to their farm. “Bringing agriculture into the classroom is an immensely rewarding experience,” they explain.

In the near future, Julia and Brian plan to expand their turkey-hatching experiment into a full on venture. They also hope to continue providing educational opportunities to their community and involving students in agricultural learning.

Jennifer Small and Michael Yezzi, Flying Pigs Farm: Poultry Infrastructure, $5,000

In 2009, Flying Pigs Farm expanded its flock of hens from 350 to 1,100 birds. While a huge benefit to their customers seeking out humanely-raised eggs and meat, accommodating this number of birds required new infrastructure. Flying Pigs Farm applied for and received a 2009 Good Husbandry Grant to build another 30’ x 100’ hoop house for its growing flock of chickens.

This new housing has benefited the flock and entire farm in a number of ways. There is now a dedicated space for the chickens, rather than partitioned areas of the original barn that housed both pigs and chickens. The new hoop house also has custom built roosts that can be moved easily for cleaning, cement floors that facilitate changing bedding, and improved ventilation that avoids drafts. Because the new barn has freed up more space, the farm has also been able to expand its breeding program.

The additional space for piglets and chickens alike has reduced stress and created more room for the animals to move around. The improved pens, roosts, and laying boxes have enhanced the chicken flock’s daily routines and health, while allowing Flying Pigs Farm to expand an important humane, pasture-based farm program for the surrounding community.

Dr. Patricia and Mark Whisnant, Rain Crow Ranch: Slaughter Facility Improvements, $2,500

Fruitland American Meat is an important link for local farmers trying to find humane slaughtering facilities nearby, and Fruitland American Meat used a Good Husbandry Grant to improve and expand on that relationship. The facility purchased a new knock box and also improved their alleyway so that they can safely and humanely handle smaller animals such as lambs, hogs, and calves. This is a huge benefit to a business that previously had to turn smaller animals away, and also to farmers looking for a local processor. At Fruitland American Meat, the improvements are seen as a way to help multiple farms through a single grant, and they foresee a great benefit to the animals and farmers. “These processing plants are pivotal in the journey from farm to table,” they explain. Reducing stress for the animals and increasing safety is essential. Fruitland American Meat is committed to expanding their services to area farmers, as a business and as an animal welfare asset.

Laughlin Ranch

Russell Laughlin, Laughlin Ranch: Natural Shelter, $2,000

Russell Laughlin of Laughlin Ranch runs a herd of almost a hundred beef cattle. As a rancher committed to his cattle’s welfare he keeps them on pasture and takes care to handle them humanely. However, Nebraska winters are severe and Russell was concerned about winter pasturing for his herd. Exposure to blizzards, extreme cold, and high winds were some of a few challenges he was faced with while trying to give them access to the outdoors. To lessen the risks to his cattle, Russell wanted to fence off a portion of his land that offered natural windbreaks and shelter to the animals. With such a large herd this seemed too costly at first, but after receiving a Good Husbandry Grant he was able to get the materials and labor to begin construction. Russell is thrilled to offer year-round pasture access to his herd and still maintain a high level of animal welfare. It’s a win-win situation for the ranch and for the cattle.

Eliza MacLean,Cane Creek Farm: Multi-Species Shelter, $4,000

Cane Creek Farm’s owner, Eliza MacLean, recently changed properties. At the new farm there is plenty of pasture, but it became clear that there was a shortage of shade and cover. In order to provide shelter for her livestock and poultry, Eliza used a Good Husbandry Grant to begin building a multi-species pole barn. Prior to building the barn her animals had been unprotected in sun, rain, wind, and inclement weather. Now they have access to dry bedding that is easily cleaned between uses, and safe protection from predators. Eliza also explains that the process of sorting animals has become less stressful for them in the enclosed space. Eliza’s long-term plan is to cement one-third of the barn to use for a poultry brooder facility. Expanding the facility, though, is a long process, so for now Eliza is glad to have eased the transition to her new farm by building a dry shelter for her animals.

Jerry & Soni Fitch, Catalpa Farm: Incubator, $2,850

Like many farmers in America, Jerry and Soni Fitch of Catalpa Farm originally purchased their new chicks through the mail. This process began to concern Jerry and Soni in the winter months because of the noticeable stress the cold caused the small birds, and particularly after one fatal incident. Using a Good Husbandry Grant Jerry and Soni purchased a large table top incubator to hatch their own birds instead of purchasing them from a hatchery. The incubator is a vital to raising their animals’ welfare—cutting out long travel times to the farm and exposure to harsh weather conditions. It also has allowed them to raise more meat birds on pasture, which means better public exposure of humane farming methods, and more consumer access to their products. They explain, “We received many phone calls and visitors, all requesting more information on the best way to raise pastured poultry. We’ve enjoyed meeting these people and creating a network of local farmers who want to raise their birds the same way we do.”

Dennis & Angela Adams, Cota Farms: Stunning Knife, $2,700

Dennis and Angela purchased an electric stun knife using a Good Husbandry Grant. Rendering the birds unconscious before dressing them was, in the Adams’ minds, crucial: it saves the birds from suffering unnecessarily. “The stun knife allows us to do the job of processing our poultry more efficiently, while improving the care and treatment of the birds during the process. We can now do more birds, more easily, in less time,” they explain. In addition, they save money and give consumers access to humane, sustainable meat products. Reducing stress on their poultry has made Dennis and Angela more confident in the products they offer. They note, “Although similar in appearance to factory farmed meat, humanely-raised poultry products are actually very different. And a part of that is how they are processed. Before we can offer the turkeys, ducks, and chickens to our customers, we must dress the birds as best we can. One thing that means is taking measures to ensure that our birds do not suffer during the process.” This has been one of the biggest challenges for them on the farm thus far, making the purchase of their stun knife a great leap forward for their business and the strength of their family-run operation.

Jim O’Brien, O’Brien Farm: Low-Stress Loading Facility, $8,549

Before receiving his Good Husbandry Grant, Jim O’Brien was using an outdated loading facility for his hogs. The loading chute was made of old wooden planks and the gates were hardly suited for enclosing a group of grown hogs. In order to provide a safer, more efficient system for his animals Jim made plans to build a new facility. This would lower stress on the animals when they were put on a semi-trailer to be moved to market. In addition, other local farmers needing to both unload and then reload their hogs onto the semi-trailer would avoid escaped animals and stress.

Jim constructed a cement loading ramp with shallow steps, with a steel bar at the bottom to prevent slipping, and a see-through gate. In addition new gates were installed for holding pens for different groups of hogs, and he feels someday they could even be used for cattle if the opportunity arose. The pens have rounded corners, drain easily, and are positioned between natural windbreaks on the property. Jim foresees this set-up cutting down loading times significantly, while reducing the discomfort of the hogs. He notes, “I know there is a group of young hog farmers looking forward to loading hogs out in this project.”

Sharon Grossi, Valley End Farm: Mobile Poultry Housing, $3,300

Sharon and Clint of Valley End Farm had an unmet need for better chicken housing. Using a Good Husbandry Grant, they were able to build portable housing that met both their welfare and safety requirements. Both are thrilled with the structure, explaining,“It has windows, ventilation, plenty of room, and many exciting features. This is a beautiful chicken house that meets our highest standards.” They are looking for innovative ways to use the new house, including showcasing it to their CSA members to demonstrate the importance of animal welfare and to provide education on chickens. They feel the benefits of the happy chickens will extend to their customers through high-quality eggs, and look forward to sharing this improvement with others.

Dallas Gilbert, Eastern Plains Natural Food Co-op: Mobile Poultry Housing, $4,000

Dallas Gilbert applied for a Good Husbandry Grant in order to provide safe housing for his large pasture-raised flock of chickens. Animal Welfare Approved’s grant enabled him to build secure and comfortable nighttime housing for the chickens as well as a perimeter fence around daytime pasture, with room to grow in the future.

Dallas believes that receiving this grant could show other farmers that humane, high-welfare farming is both possible and advantageous for them. The improvements made, he explains, “Demonstrate to my customers my commitment to humane animal care and differentiates me from confinement operations.” With the profits from a growing chicken flock Dallas plans to continue farm improvements and growth.

“I wanted to expand my chicken operation to be able to take advantage of increased interest in free range heritage poultry food products. The grant provided funding that allowed me to implement a plan that ensured the improvements to my operation provided humane and safe living conditions for my poultry,” he says. He is excited by the opportunity to both expand his poultry operation and also protect the flock. The stress-free growth of his farm is a boon to business, and a great example of high-welfare planning.

Renee and Randall Parker, Parker Farm: Pastured Poultry Projects, $4,472

Renee and Randall Parker worked on a number of projects to increase the welfare of their chickens using their Good Husbandry Grant. Not only did they assemble a Chick Inn for brooding hens and general housing, but they also installed larger water troughs, a range feeder, incubator, and egg mobile. The water and feed troughs improve access to food and water, while the shelters provide nighttime safety for the chickens and greater mobility. The versatility of the equipment allows Renee and Randall to also focus on decreasing stress for hens that are brooding as well as newborn chicks.

The improvements in animal welfare have also made Parker Farm more efficient. Waterers and feed bins need to be refilled less, and there is more freedom to move the chickens to green pasture. Randall calls the grants a “blessing” for many farmers. “Raising animals is a costly business,” he explains, “but with the help of the grant we are able to be more aware of our animal’s needs and to raise their welfare on the farm.”

Barbara and Mark Laino, Midsummer Farm: Livestock Guardian Dogs, $1,500

Barbara and Mark Laino at Midsummer Farm used their Good Husbandry Grant to create a predator-friendly defense system for their flock of chickens. The farm was being frequented by both foxes and hawks, causing deaths from predation as well as chronic stress on the chickens. By using the grant money to purchase two livestock guardian dogs (LGDs), Barbara and Mark were able to provide better security for the flock without harming natural predators in the area. Their two new puppies watch over the 3 acres of pasture on the farm where the chickens roam, with access to an outdoor hut that overlooks the fields.

Barbara and Mark purchased two trained 6-month old Maremma puppies after research into LGD breeds. In explaining the uniqueness of the breed they note, “Maremmas are very adept at preventing hawk predation. One dog gathers the birds to the side and guards them and the other stays out in the open and jumps and snaps at the hawk. We cannot wait to see this happen.”

All details relating to the farms featured—including farm status—were accurate based on information available to the AWA Program at the time of publication.