Here at Heritage Farms Northwest, we try our best to tailor our feeding practices to each individual species so that we can ensure that all their nutritional needs are met and also to ensure that we produce the best product possible for our customers.
The hogs that we raise are born in a pastured setting and live their lives out in the fields. They do eat a considerable amount of forage (grasses and clovers) from the pastures and in the winter time they always have access to clover haylage (fermented clover “hay”) that a neighboring farmer grows for us. However, because hogs have a simple, mono-gastrointestinal digestion system (just like humans) they do not do a thorough job of digesting grasses and other highly fibrous feeds. Additionally they need a fairly high protein content to their feed in order to properly develop their muscles and to grow at a normal rate. Most pastures do not contain enough high protein plants (clover and alfalfa) to totally supply hogs with enough high quality protein to meet their needs. In order to supply a complete and nutritious diet for our hogs, we do feed them a mixed grain ration daily. Currently the primary ingredient in our feeding program is locally grown wheat that we buy from a neighboring farmer. We grind the wheat ourselves 2x’s a week to ensure freshness and then we mix in a vitamin/mineral/protein supplement to bring the ration up to where it needs to be in terms of protein levels. Our protein supplement does contain soy meal products, but the supplement is just one small part of their total diet. We figure the soy meal to be about 10%, or less, of the hogs’ total diet.
As with all of our animals, the hog feed does NOT contain any antibiotics or added hormones.*
Our chickens and turkeys are honestly and truly free ranged after they have feathered out enough to keep warm (3 weeks for chickens). This means that we have very little control over what they decide to eat. They spend much of their time foraging for bugs and seeds and whatever else they come across. When the chickens (and turkeys) are young, they eat a home ground mix of wheat , organic soy meal and vitamin/mineral mix. Once they are out in the field, they look for their own dinner and we occasionally supplement them with a non GMO home ground feed. Again, our feeds are free of all antibiotics and added hormones.*
Our rabbits are raised on a commercial rabbit pellet which contains ground alfalfa hay and a vitamin/mineral component. In addition to the rabbit pellets we also feed clover hay and grass hay to the rabbits daily. We are working on setting up a system which would allow us to put the rabbits on the ground in “pasture tractors” so that they can live more naturally and do some of their own foraging. As with all our animals, the rabbits eat a diet free of antibiotics or hormones.
*It is illegal to use hormones in either pork or poultry production.