For millennia, grasslands and the animals that foraged on them enjoyed a symbiotic relationship. The grasses sustained the animals and migrating animals mowed and fertilized the grasslands and pushed organic matter into the soil. They result was lush grass and healthy soil full of micro-organisms and nutrients. Both the rangeland and the animals prospered.
This process continued when most people lived on small farms and raised their own animals. However, during the industrial age people left the farming life and migrated to large cities. To feed the masses, big corporations bought out small farmers and agriculture switched to an industrial, mass-production model.
Today, most chicken, turkey, beef and pork eaten by most Americans comes from animals confined in gigantic buildings, crowded pens and feedlot corrals, shot full of antibiotics and hormones. They are fed grains designed to put on weight quickly. Millions of tons of mass-harvested meat are shipped hundreds and thousands of miles.
Grasslands were turned into corn and grain fields. Animals in large feedlots or tiny pens devour the corn and grain-based feed, like a child eating Twinkies. The nutritional value of the meat and eggs suffers. Soil growing just one crop becomes barren and unfertile and requires massive amounts of chemical fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides. Many remaining family farms, unable to compete with the gigantic factory farms, were sold or went bankrupt.
At Hawk Ridge Ranch, we’re simply trying to return to natural farming. Healthy soil and nutritious grass are the foundation. Our animals eat naturally on pasture, enjoy clean air and fresh water, and are humanely treated. Interestingly, producing meat and eggs the way nature intended means these products are healthier, fresher – and a lot tastier.
Many climate scientists have concluded that the best way to combat climate change is to encourage farming the natural way. Traditional monoculture farming that plows and discs the soil and uses chemical fertilizers releases millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Natural, grass-based farming is regenerative. Healthy grasses remove carbon dioxide from the air and absorb it into the soil.
Meat and eggs produced via natural farming cost more. It is impossible for local natural farms to compete with the economies of scale enjoyed by the factory farms.
The upside is nourishing, tastier food, humane treatment of animals, healthy soil, carbon capture, and a natural system that protects and enhances the environment rather than degrading it.