Learn the true source of the food you eat

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By Heather Lang, PDt

All Stirred Up is highlighting one local producer each month and asking questions about the products they supply to you. This month we spoke with Joe and Lorenda Ebbett from Ebbett’s Meadowbrook Farm in Tatamagouche (www.ebbettsmeadowbrookfarm.com).

The Ebbetts raise their own pigs, cattle, chickens and turkeys. At their farm market and country kitchen they sell a variety of fresh cuts, smoked products, sausages and deli meats prepared in-house from their naturally raised livestock. They also sell a variety of products sourced from other local producers across Nova Scotia.

Whenever you are visiting a local producer it’s a great idea to ask questions about where the products come from and how they’re produced.

 

1. Are the animals you raise born on your farm? 

All of our pigs and some of our cattle are born on the farm. Our chickens and turkeys are purchased when they’re a day old.

2. How are you animals raised? How much access do they have to the outdoors?

Our piglets are kept in a pen with their mother. They’re free to nurse as often as they like. After weaning they’re moved to pens with others the same size and age. The feeders/markets are housed in pens in a bright, open, airy tarp barn.

Our cattle are pastured outdoors from May to November each year. During the winter months they’re in a fenced yard adjacent to two barns. They move in and out freely depending on the weather. The calves remain with the cows until early winter when they’re weaned, and then grouped into an indoor pen until spring. The next summer they are pastured with the cows and calves. Once the feeders reach the appropriate age and size for finishing, they’re housed loose indoors for three to four months so they can be fed the optimum protein and energy feed requirements for proper gain and marbling.

Chickens and turkeys are kept indoors in a well-ventilated brooder pen for the first two to three weeks, depending on the outside temperature. The birds are then moved to small shed buildings in a two-acre pasture. They can graze and range as they please during the days. If the weather becomes inclement, they have access to the shelters. They’re shut in at nights for protection from nocturnal wildlife.

3. What do you feed your animals?

Cattle are fed silage, hay and grass, but during the final three to four month finishing period about 15 per cent of their feed ration is supplemented with grain for the added protein and energy needed for flavour and finish.

Our pigs, chickens and turkeys are fed an all-vegetable grain diet.

All or our livestock receive mineral supplements required for growth and development.

4. Are your animals ever given hormones, steroids or othergrowth promoters?

None of our livestock are ever given hormones, steroids or other growth promoters.

5. Are your animals ever given antibiotics?

No antibiotics are fed as a regular part of the feed rations. They’re only administered on an individual basis if a need is identified.

6. Why should the community support local farmers?

By purchasing products from local farmers people can know where their food is coming from, and dollars spent locally help build a stronger local economy.

7. Is there anything else you would like to talk about?

Approximately 15 years ago when we established the business our goal was to raise meat products the natural way. Our animals wouldn’t be fed meat meal, only grain and grasses. Our animals wouldn’t receive unnecessary antibiotics or hormones. We wanted to market directly to the consumer so they would know where their food was coming from and how it was raised. Each year we raise approximately 5,000 chickens and 700 turkeys. Our farm is also the home to: approximately 160 head of cattle (cows, calves and a bull) and 140 pigs (sows, two boars, piglets and feeders).

For more good food facts in Colchester and East Hants, visit www.allstirredup.ca.

 

Geographic location: Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia, Colchester

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