Saturday, September 30, 2017

Polyface Farm, Part Deux

Featured in "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and "Food, Inc.", Polyface Farm challenges the way we do farming today.  While their system is not a completely closed loop, it's close, and certainly a far cry from the way most Americans get their meat and eggs:  For example, grass grows, then cows are moved into a space where they graze for a day, then chickens are moved in a few days afterward to eat the fly larvae out of the poop left behind by the cows.  Why not move the chickens in immediately?  Because they want to give a few days to let the fly larvae get big, fat, and delicious first.  Nom nom nom!  Essentially, they've built an assembly line wherein they turn fly larvae into chicken eggs.  Now, who wouldn't want to eat that?!  :)

I had the privilege of touring Polyface Farm many years ago.  This is my second rodeo, and admittedly, my brother and I got lost on the way and couldn't find the place, so we were kind of really, really, ridiculously late.  But I have a few photos from the day that I hope capture the day.

Young broiler chickens
Young broilers being raised for meat. They're moved daily in
120 sq ft. shelters after cows have come through.  Chickens
do not like long grass -- predators that like to eat chickens
tend to live in long grass.

Hay bales
Oh hay.
Stewing hens
Stewing hens. Called as such because you have to cook them a
long time (e.g. through braising) or else they'll be tough.  They
produce eggs for 2-3 years and then are usually slaughtered for
meat.  In the time they graze, they are brought in a few days
after the cows come through and eat the fly larvae right out of
the cow patties (mmm...protein). They keep them a few days
behind the cows to let the larvae get plump and delicious.
The white electric fence is deliberately white:  Somehow, the
birds see it blend into the sky and to them it goes infinitely
high.  Predators such as bears and coyotes see the low fence
and assume that there's an easy way in without jumping.
When they finally realize there isn't and they decide to charge
the fence, they get zapped and then walk away.

Cow with shit on it
I like to think of this one as the Donald Trump cow:
Full of sh*t and completely unaware of it.

Cattle on the move
The cattle move once a day. While cattle have a reputation for
being difficult to move (requiring a team of people and dogs).
these cattle are not hard to move because they associate
moving with new food.  The farm says that this type of farming
allows the land to be about twice as productive as other farms
in the state of Virginia.
Polyface also has pigs (none seen on this trip).  But I didn't
know that they had goats.  Learn something new every time
you come here.

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