Our cattle and sheep are pasture raised and are never given hormones or antibiotics. Our calves and lambs are raised with their mothers and are outside 12 months of the year with access to shelter whenever they want it. Our herd consists of Angus, Devon and Hereford and their crosses. Our sheep are purebred, registered Icelandic sheep. We graze our animals from approximately May 15 till the grass is no longer growing. Last year the animals were on pasture until the middle of December! In Vermont, that's a long grazing season! Once the grazing season is over, we feed hay for the winter and into early spring. Grass fed beef and lamb is delicious, leaner, and a healthier choice than the feedlot, grain fed beef and lamb you will find at your local supermarket. Our chickens are free to wander through green grass nibbling, and are fed certified organic grain. No GMO's! Pastured chicken is not the same as pastured, certified organic chicken!
Grass fed meat contains:
- Fewer calories
- More omega-3 fatty acids
- A healthier ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids
- More CLA
- More vitamin E
- More beta-carotene
If you are thinking about purchasing our meat, it is best to to plan ahead! Our lamb is available in the fall and winter. Our beef is available throughout the summer and fall months. Beef animals usually take 18-24 months to be finished. Lambs can be ready in four months to a year depending on the lambing schedule and the desired weight. Pastured chicken is available in July and through most of the year. Contact us and let us know what you are looking for! As soon as you have decided to purchase from us, let us know so that we can hold it for you. We sell out quickly, well before the beef/lamb is actually available for market.
How much freezer space do you need? About 50 lbs of meat will fill a 2.25 cubic ft freezer. A 12 cubic ft freezer should hold about 250 lbs of meat. Space for chicken is more difficult to determine because it only comes whole and is more difficult to neatly pack into a freezer.
What about poultry? There is a big demand for farm raised, pastured chicken and not enough supply. Pastured, certified organic chicken is even harder to find. Local growers can grow and process a certain number of birds themselves for retail sale. However, our chickens are certified organic, pasture raised, and processed by a USDA inspected facility, as well as on farm. Farm raised, organic poultry can be a bit more expensive than your grocery store birds because the chickens are raised in smaller batches with more space, and high quality organic (and more expensive !) feed unlike the huge poultry companies. Commercial producers are more interested in quantity than quality and because of their large production, can produce more economically than the small farmer can.
What's the difference between "natural" and" certified organic" beef (or lamb)? Beef from some of our cattle is labeled "natural". This assures that this animal has not been given hormones or antibiotics and is raised naturally, without chemicals. At High Ridge Meadows Farm, our "natural " beef is raised using the same methods as our certified organic animals. All are grass fed on certified organic pasture, left with their mothers , have free choice to shelter and are fed organic minerals and organic hay in winter. An animal that was born on the farm, but did not spend the last trimester of gestation on the property under organic production, cannot be certified organic. For this reason, we sometimes have an animal that is not certified organic, although we have raised it organically since birth. That animal would be classified as "natural". If meat is labeled "organic" or "natural" it doesn't mean it is also grass fed. At High Ridge Meadows Farm, all of our lamb and beef is grass fed and finished. Likewise, meat labeled "natural" does not necessarily mean it has been raised organically. At High Ridge Meadows Farm, all of our animals are raised organically.,
Also, from time to time, we purchase animals that have been raised according to our organic standards, but for whatever reason, the farmer has decided not to certify. We raise that animal organically, but it cannot be certified organic. These are also considered "natural". Only animals that are gestated (for at least) the last trimester, born and raised on our farm, or purchased as certified organic, can be called "certified organic". Both "natural" and "certified organic" meet the same standards for humane and natural conditions. Every year we have a farm inspection by the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont where our pastures, management, and practices are reviewed. At that time, we are also required to present records of livestock health, feed & minerals,water tests, pasture management, crop production and management, as well as all receipts of products used. All our labels need to be approved by the USDA office in Maryland (all labels) and by NOFA-VT (certified organic) . Record keeping is essential!
We are very lucky to be just a few miles from The Royal Butcher slaughterhouse, which is a USDA inspected facility. All of our meats are USDA inspected. Please click the "Humane Handling " tab in the menu for more info on The Royal Butcher.
Grass Finished Beef: One of the Healthiest Foods on the Menu
Like all beef, grass-fed / finished beef is an excellent source of high-quality protein, iron, zinc, selenium, phosphorous, and the B-complex vitamins. But it is superior to grain-fed beef in a number of key ways. It is lower in fat and calories and higher in omega-3 fatty acids and CLA. The differences alone justify a switch to pasture-raised beef.
Fresh pasture offers hundreds of times more of these nutrients than a standard feedlot diet. As a result, grass-fed meat has up to four times more beta-carotene than conventional feedlot meat. Given all these benefits, a steak from a cow raised on pasture is even healthier for you than a chicken breast – the meat that health authorities are so quick to recommend. The steak has about the same amount of total fat, making it an equally good choice for a heart-healthy diet, but it has more omega-3s. What's more it has less cholesterol than chicken and more than four times more CLA. Move over chicken. Make room for grass-fed beef!*
*Excerpts from the book: Pasture Perfect: The Far-Reaching Benefits of Choosing Meat, Eggs, and Dairy Products from Grass-Fed Animals by Jo Robinson
A Note about Hanging (Dressed) Weight...
Hanging weight is the weight of the carcass after evisceration and the removal of head, hooves and hide. Beef is chilled for a couple of days or more and then hung to age for approximately 10 days during which time it loses water, which gives more flavor to the beef.This whole process will result in some weight loss, anywhere from 30-45% of the hanging weight. Approximate beef yield from hanging weight: 30-45%. So, for instance, an animal that hangs at 500 lbs, may yield 275 - 350 lbs of meat.
Approximate lamb yield from dressed weight: The average Icelandic lamb dressed weight will usually range from 25-40 lbs for a whole lamb (similar to the term hanging for beef) and will yield 70-75% lbs. of that weight. Sometimes lamb is slaughtered at lower weights to meet a customer's religious or other preference.