What does Regeneratively Raised mean?

Regenerative Farming is in our nature.

 

Our animals enjoy open pastures, full of nutrient-packed forage to graze.


At Hickory Nut Gap, we have been practicing sustainable farming for well over twenty years – long before the word “regenerative” was popularly used. Regenerative farming is a complex system, because nature is complex, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be difficult to understand. At our farm, our practices are based on one simple idea: to restore and heal our entire farming ecosystem through sustainable and fair treatment of both our land and animals.

The happiness of our animals is one of our top priorities as a regenerative farm. We ensure that our cows, pigs, and chickens all have a high-quality of life. We do this through our grass-fed and pasture-raised beliefs: our animals live their entire lives with the ability to roam outdoor fields, breathe clean air, and forage the healthiest foods. This ensures happier and healthier animals.

 

Through planned rotational grazing, we can ensure that our grass has the best growth and nutrients for our animals. Our cows can graze down a tall field in a week’s time!


Our scientific approach to regenerative farming consists of more than just healthier and happier animals – it’s also about restoring health to our soil by sequestering carbon within it. This is achieved through something called planned rotational grazing, a way to manage grass growth within pastures, ensuring enough carbon is stored in the soil to benefit both the forage and our animals. This is now being built on a measurable component of regenerative farming, Ecological Outcome Verification (EOV). EOV allows us and all our partner farmers to achieve measurable, consistent results with both our pastures and our animals. We were also recently certified as a Savory Institute Hub, permitting us to teach and guide other farms on how to implement the practices of EOV.

 

Ecological Outcome Verification (EOV) is a measurable component of regenerative farming. This is what allows us and our partner farmers to achieve measurable, consistent results with both our pastures and our animals.


Ultimately, our ecosystem is an intentional connection that honors and respects the planet, our animals, and our farmers. Everything we do works to serve each of these pillars.

Our Regeneratively Raised label claim signifies that we are committed to a different path forward for the food system.

 

Our pigs are especially happy to lounge, graze, and “root” in our pastures. By digging their snouts into the ground – an action called rooting – they can access starchy weeds, delicious and healthy for them, while also helping us to rid our pastures of invasive species!


We recently received approval from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to add “Regeneratively Raised” to our food labels! What does this mean, exactly? Essentially, our new label claim verifies that we are committed to farming practices that reduce carbon emissions and improve soil quality. It’s a sign that we’re making our mark in regenerative farming, but it doesn’t stop here.

How do Regeneratively Raised meats affect you?

We are what we eat.

 

Our 100% grass-fed and pasture-raised meats are both healthier and tastier thanks to our regenerative farming practices.


Regenerative farming is a relationship with people too! Since our animals consume high-quality forage, closer to what nature intended, we are able to provide you with high-quality products that are packed with nutrients. At our farm in Fairview, NC, we also make our own animal feed for our pigs and chickens. We purchase whole grains such as corn, wheat, barley, and soybean meal, and use our tractor-powered hammer mill to grind and mix the non-GMO feed. This ensures that both our pork and poultry receive all the vitamins and nutrients they need, as well as the added benefits of the forage they graze.

While a nutrient-rich diet promises for healthier animals, we also make sure that our animals are treated fairly and humanely. We proved them with ample pasture space to roam, run, and forage, allowing them to live their lives as active, happy animals. With the right diet and the right lifestyle, our animals are both healthier and happier, producing great tasting, high-quality meat.

This is what also allows us to produce meats superior in flavor. Not only does regenerative farming give you more nutritious options, but it also gives you tastier options – it’s a win-win situation!

Regenerative farming comes full circle: we work to improve the land, the land improves the livelihood of the animals, and the animals provide us with meat that improves our own health. We do this while also taking into consideration our animals’ quality of life, which also increases the quality of meat that you consume. Ultimately, Regeneratively Raised is much more than a label – it reflects our decades-long dedication to sustainable farming and animal welfare, and it’s an active choice to improve farming practices that can help restore entire ecosystems.

Our first batch of chickens are now out in the pasture to graze! Did you know that chickens are SUPER GREAT for our pastures? While grazing, they leave their chicken “litter” – full of nitrogen – to fertilize the grass for our cows to eat. This means that our cows are able to eat the freshest, naturally fertilized grass we can provide for them! Here’s how we use planned rotation with our chickens:

  • After spending their first four weeks with us rotating between an indoor run and an outdoor run, our chickens are moved to our pastures, where they can roam and graze to their hearts’ content!
  • We rotate our chickens between fields every few years to help keep them safe from predators.
  • Chickens are rotated within the same field every few weeks, so they have new forage to eat.

With that in mind, you can thank our chickens the next time you eat some of our 100% grassfed beef!

Making Our Own Feed

We are excited to announce that our farm in Fairview is now able to make our own animal feed for our pigs and chickens! We are buying whole grains and using a tractor powered hammer mill to grind and mix non-GMO feed. The rations will consist of corn, small grains (such as wheat or barley), expeller pressed soybean meal, and vitamins and minerals to ensure the animals have all the nutrition they need. This allows us to purchase local grains to help our regional agricultural economy thrive!

 

Pictured on the left, is the un-ground corn (right) and our feed mix (left), full of different grains, corn, and vitamins! The photo on the left shows the teeth of the hammer mill that grind the corn and grains up into our fine feed!

 

Reusing Old Grain Bins

To keep our grain fresh, we store it in grain bins – and we just got new, shiny bins for the farm! So, what do we do with our old bins? We recycle and reuse them, of course! Sustainable farming is not just about ensuring the healthiest grassfed beef and pasture-raised pork, but it’s also about producing less waste in the process. Our old grain bins are currently being cut down to create new huts for our pigs to sleep in and enjoy some shade.

 

 

Why grain?

All this talk of grain… but why do we need it? We only feed grain to our pigs and chickens (also known as monogastric animals) and we NEVER feed grain to our cows! The thing is, pigs and chickens can’t live on grass and forage alone, so they must get energy from other sources, like grain! Our homemade grain is fed to the pigs and chickens while they’re also eating forage, which allows them to receive the energy they need while also getting the added benefits from the grass.

 

 

What are the added benefits to eating pasture-raised pork? Here at Hickory Nut Gap, we ensure that, through planned grazing and the use of annual and perennial grasses, that our pigs get the highest amount of nutrients as they graze.

Here’s how we do it:

  • Pigs can be really harsh on the land, so we make sure to rotate them between grazing pastures. This guarantees that they’re eating the healthiest grass.
  • As they get more mature, the pigs are able to obtain more nutrients from our grass, such as fiber.
  • This winter wheat grass (pictured) is an annual containing a starchy root base, with high fiber in the chlorophyll parts. While the pigs love the starchy roots, they also eat the chlorophyll parts of the grass, absorbing all the added benefits into their bodies.

We are what we eat – which is why it’s so important to us to ensure that all of our animals are eating nutritiously to ensure that you are too!