Sunday, October 25, 2009

Polyface Farms

Location: Shenandoah Valley, Virginia

Years: 1961-present

Founders: The Salatin Family

The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan

Joel Salatin, of Polyface Farms, utilizes natural relationships and cycles to maintain an organic, productive farm. Salatin practices “Grass Farming.” Since cows are natural ruminators, he feeds them grass, and not corn. Salatin is careful not to allow the cows to overgraze or undergraze, so they rotate daily between pastures, which contain different types of grass (clover, orchard grass, sweet grass, bluegrass, timothy, etc.). As a modern grass farmer, Salatin relies on the energy of sun to grow his grass, rather than petroleum. He considers himself a “sun farmer,” because “the grass is just the way we capture the solar energy.”

Salatin invented the Eggmobile, a mobile chicken coop housing 400 hens, that follows the cows in their rotation. The Eggmobile is a 12 ft. X 20 ft. portable henhouse and the laying hens free range from it, eating bugs and scratching through cattle droppings to sanitize the pasture just like birds in nature that always follow herbivores as biological cleansers. This supplies the chickens with plenty of fresh insect life, living in and under the cow patties.

Each season, the 100-acre Polyface Farm produces 30,000 eggs, 10,000 broilers, 800 stewing hens, 50 beeves (25,000 lbs of beef), 250 hogs (25,000 lbs of pork), 1,000 turkeys, and 500 rabbits. Salatin also refrains from shipping any of his food in order to reduce the farm’s carbon footprint.

The Eggmobile
Salatin with Polyface chickens

Polyface cows

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