Our Practices

Pastured Eggs and Poultry

Chickens are raised year-round at Milk & Honey Farmstead, and turkeys are raised seasonally. All of our birds are given access to the outdoors, so they can exercise, and do what they love most which is search for their own innate food sources. Chickens and turkeys are naturally omnivorous, and it’s important to us they maintain their natural instincts. We supplement their foraging with non-GMO animal byproduct-free feed and food scraps from our farm.

This well-rounded diet coupled with access to the outdoors is not only better for the birds, but better for our customers as well. Eggs from pastured hens outperform conventional caged eggs by providing more vitamins and Omega-3 fatty acids.1 Milk & Honest will not ever use antibiotics when raising our poultry, but rather we opt for apple cider vinegar in their water to naturally strengthen their immune systems and prevent disease.

Pastured Pork

In their natural state, pigs do not discriminate. They love to eat tubers, nuts like acorns and walnuts, grubs, and whatever else they can find. We raise pastured pork year-round. We like to give our pigs access to the outdoors, so they can root around for those treats, even in the snow during winter. We supplement their foraging with a non-GMO animal byproduct-free feed as well as food scraps from our farm. We also give our pigs a small amount of apple cider vinegar in their water to naturally stave off disease and infection.

Pastured pork is leaner because our pigs are able to exercise, root around, and use their muscles. Because of this, you’ll find our pork is a darker shade of pink than conventionally raised pork. The flavor profile of pastured pork is much deeper and robust. Studies have shown that pigs raised outdoors have a higher concentration of Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins like vitamin E.2

Pastured Beef

We raise Scottish Highland pastured beef year-round. Highlanders are one of the oldest breeds in the world and are well-known for their large horns. They have a thick, shaggy coat with a wool-like layer beneath, which makes them well-suited for Illinois winters. We raise our cows on pasture because their digestive systems are conducive to eating grass. Ruminant animals such as sheep, elk, and cows have a digestive system which processes plant matter, so they are able to break down and utilize plant material as an energy source.3 Cows are meant to graze on pasture- it provides a happier and stress-free life, which creates more nutritious milk for their calves, and results in healthier meat for our customers (in at least ten different ways4).  We give our cows a mineral supplement, and our signature apple cider vinegar in their water to guard against disease and infection. Milk & Honey Farmstead does not ever use antibiotics or hormones.

We employ sustainable rotational grazing, so our animals continually have access to fresh pasture. Rotating our animals around the farm gives our land a chance to regenerate and natural fertilizers to be distributed evenly, which contributes to soil fertility and new growth.

In the winter. when access to pasture is unavailable, we supplement with chemical-free hay. Our cows are given shelter from the cold but are also provided access to the outdoors. Our Highlanders love winter and prefer to spend time outside, even in the freezing temperatures.

Organic Produce

Organic foods are two sides of a coin, as they are a return to tradition and the wave of the future. Organic crops are scientifically proven to be higher in antioxidants5 and are 48% less likely to contain the toxic heavy metal, cadmium.6 A recent study found organic tomatoes to be higher in sugars, vitamins, and lycopene.7

Our farming practices begin and end with soil health. We use compost and organic fertilizers to naturally enhance soil fertility. Trusted methods like companion planting allow us to reintroduce crucial soil nutrients naturally.

Synthetic pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, and the like have been widely linked to negative effects on human and animal health.8,9 The pandemic use of pesticides in agriculture and landscaping have been linked to colony collapse in our bee population,10 a correlation with illness in humans and their pets, and comparatively lower nutritional content versus organically raised crops.

We choose to raise our crops according to USDA organic standards because the research is clear. Organic farming is all in all better, meaning more nutritious and healthy for our families and neighbors, our animals, and the environment we live in.

Resources

1Karsten, H.d., et al. “Vitamins A, E and Fatty Acid Composition of the Eggs of Caged Hens and Pastured Hens.” Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, vol. 25, no. 01, Dec. 2010, pp. 45–54. Www.cambridge.org, doi:10.1017/s1742170509990214.
2Bach, Alex, et al. “Assessing Farm Animal Welfare from a Nutritional Perspective.” Animal Welfare Nutrition and the Welfare of Farm Animals, 2016, pp. 115–134., doi:10.1007/978-3-319-27356-3_6.
3“Nutrition | Cow’s Digestive System.” Aglifesciences.tamu.edu, 14 Apr. 2012, aglifesciences.tamu.edu/animalscience/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2012/04/nutrition-cows-digestive-system.
4Duckett, S. K., et al. “Effects of Winter Stocker Growth Rate and Finishing System on: III. Tissue Proximate, Fatty Acid, Vitamin, and Cholesterol Content.” Journal of Animal Science, vol. 87, no. 9, May 2009, pp. 2961–2970., doi:10.2527/jas.2009-1850.
5Ren, Feiyue, et al. “Higher Antioxidant Activity, Total Flavonols, and Specific Quercetin Glucosides in Two Different Onion (Allium Cepa L.) Varieties Grown under Organic Production: Results from a 6-Year Field Study.” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, vol. 65, no. 25, 2017, pp. 5122–5132., doi:10.1021/acs.jafc.7b01352.
6Barański, Marcin, et al. “Higher Antioxidant and Lower Cadmium Concentrations and Lower Incidence of Pesticide Residues in Organically Grown Crops: a Systematic Literature Review and Meta-Analyses.” British Journal of Nutrition, vol. 112, no. 05, 2014, pp. 794–811., doi:10.1017/s0007114514001366.
7Oliveira, Aurelice B. “Organic Tomatoes Accumulate More Vitamin C, Sugars than Conventionally Grown Fruit.” ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, 20 Feb. 2013, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130220184945.htm.
8Vakil, Dr. Catherine. “Cancer Health Effects of Pesticides.” Can Fam Physician, vol. 3, no. 10, Oct. 2007.
9 Annamalai, Jayshree, and Vasudevan Namasivayam. “Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals in the Atmosphere: Their Effects on Humans and Wildlife.”Environment International, vol. 76, 2015, pp. 78–97., doi:10.1016/j.envint.2014.12.006.
10Henry, M., et al. “A Common Pesticide Decreases Foraging Success and Survival in Honey Bees.”Science Magazine, vol. 336, no. 6079, 2012, pp. 348–350., doi:10.1126/science.1215039.
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