When developing our farm system design with Peter Bane and Keith Johnson, it became apparent that intentional livestock management (amongst other practices) was the key to restoring what is now known as Verdant Hollow Farms. Our multi-species livestock are first and foremost “workers” here on the farm. Each one having a unique purpose and skill, all the while providing us with rich compost for our gardens and various forms of proteins for sale. Our system uses holistic and thoughtful practices that are gentle on the animals and our earth. We make our own organic hay and use a rainwater catchment system so that we do not need to pull from ground water to provide for our livestock’s needs. Lastly, most of the animals on farm are Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World. This certification holds the strictest criteria for pasture and humanely raised livestock in the industry.
Sheep (100% Grass Fed Certified)
We raise mostly Registered Katahdin Hair Sheep, known as low maintenance because of their great lambing/birthing record, grazing capabilities, parasite resistance, and you don’t have to shear them! All of our original breeding stock has come from Vince and Nancy Pope of Double Ewe Farms in Wisconsin. In addition to the Katahdins, we also have Icelandic sheep. A heritage breed that loves the cold weather and pasture environment. They also just so happen to be really beautiful as well.
We pride ourselves on our rotational grazing system that not only regenerates the soil, but also helps keep our animals healthy. Unlike many livestock farmers we do not use routine deworming treatments on our ruminants, since this type of management can lead to parasite resistance in these medications as well as damage to beneficial soil insects like the dung beetle. Instead, we FAMACHA score our livestock monthly and run fecal egg counts annually. Animals are either treated based on the circumstances or sent to market.
We will have breeding stock available for purchase in the early fall of 2019. Please contact us for more information regarding our sheep program.
The goats on the farm are always keeping us on our toes and provide much entertainment. Since the goats we raise are used mostly for milk, cheese, and soap making we have selected a few breeds that work well for all of the above. Alpines (French/American) for their high milk production. La Manchas and Nubians for fat content. The goat pasture here at Verdant Hollow is part grass and part forest. They have worked wonders at eating back the Multiflora Rose and Honeysuckle that plague many areas of our woods. As time goes on we hope to expand this program into more of our 130 acres of hardwood forest.
We offer seasonal goat milk shares. Please reach out to us if you are interested in purchasing one.
Our layer chickens are the backbone of our farm. They are incredible workers and do a wonderful job fertilizing pasture, clearing out weeds, and making use of our garden scraps. Our chickens live full time in a “Prairie Schooner” that gets moved 1-2 a week and opens up so that they can have daily access to fresh pasture. They follow our sheep in rotation which helps reduce parasite load on our ruminants. All of layer chickens are fed and organic, soy free, whole grain ration.
In addition to our OG (original guardian;) Dolly the Llama, we now have two incredible Colorado Mountain Dogs to watch over our sheep, goats, and chickens. June and Cash joined us this past fall and have been a valuable asset at keeping coyotes, foxes, and hawks at bay. Their breed is fairly new and is a mix of Great Pyrenees and Anatolian Shepherd, known for their cold hardiness, protective instincts, and kind dispositions with humans.
Last year was our first year raising hogs on the farm and we are hooked! Like the goats, pigs love foraging in the woods so we have created space for them that includes trees, wetland, and pasture. We believe that you can really taste the depth of raising pigs this way in our pork and look forward to including another round in our livestock program this spring!