Frequently Asked Questions
Click on one of the following boxes to see the answers to the question in the box.
Are the Hot Dogs Gluten Free?
Yes. The hot dogs have no gluten. They are also Nitrate and Nitrite free (which is why they are frozen).
Do you offer CSAs?
CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) are membership driven programs where the members receive a pre-determined amount of product (meats, produce, fruits, syrup, fish, ...) on a periodic basis. The memberships are purchased in advance.
Miles Smith Farm's current CSA is described in http://www.milessmithfarm.com/farm-share-csa-spring-session-2.html (That page has a brochure and an order form.)
Do all the animals become meat?
In short: No!
About a third of the animals that are birthed in any given year end up in the "food program". The rest are either sold, end up in a training program, or become breeders.
Does MSF use GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) feed for their cattle?
The short answer is: "No".
The longer answer is: "We try not to, but without GMO labelling on products, and restrictions on the reproduction of GMO products, we can't be sure."
Also, because we avoid mono-culture pastures (pastures and hayfields with only one or two species of grass), it is easier to avoid GMO plants. The assumption being that any GMO product will be crowded out by other plants.
What is the difference between Grass Finished and Grain Finished?
All of our cattle are fed grass and hay (except when they're nursing from their mother). However, about six weeks before they are due to "go to market", some are fed grain to "fatten them up", thus increasing the marbling in their meat. The last six weeks (more or less) is called "finishing".
Miles Smith Farm is not equipped to grain feed cattle, so the animals that are grain fed usually come from one of our suppliers (typically PT Farm in North Haverhill, NH). The Scottish Highlanders and other cattle present at Miles Smith Farm never get grain.
Some people prefer the leaner meat that grass finished animals produce, others prefer the "juicer" meat produced by grain finishing. So we offer both kinds. Also, there is evidence that grass finished meat is more healthy than grain finished; our feeling is that either is fine for healthy humans; but some people are on fat reduced diets and still love meat. Our product lines are designed for both.
How many calves are born on your farm each year?
That's very difficult to answer because of so many variables. The biggest variables are:
- How many cows (female cattle) do we have
- How good was the bull
As of 2011, we've been targeting about 20 newborns a year, this to a herd of about 45 breeding cows. Most of the calves (cows and bulls) less than a year old will be sold to other farmers - typically for breeding, as pets (or for helping a young farmer), and a few as eventual beef animals. Of those not sold, about half will go into our "food" program (where they'll be raised to an economical weight and then taken to a processing facility), and the remainder will stay on the farm for training as riding, pulling, or ambassador cattle.
Since we don't use artifical insemination, the bull and his attitude to the cows is a major factor. If the cows shun the bull or if the bull is too aggressive, then the cows won't conceive or produce viable offspring.
Some lesser factors are:
- Ability to conceive; some cows will be too young to breed, others may have had problems during the last birthing and need a year to "rest".
- Improper calf confirmation... This is more a genetic problem and is mitigated by purchasing bulls and cows with the correct and compatible traits. For example, we want a bull that produces smaller babies to lessen the chances of a breech birth or wrapped umbilical cords.
- Nutrition and cow condition. If we have a bad hay year, then winter feed will be "off" and a pregnant cow could become stressed. We reduce the chances of this by buying hay from several different vendors at different places around the state. However, every year is different thus, our hay suppliers change from year to year.
How should I behave around the cattle?
Cattle (and most non-household animals) take exception to the following actions and may move suddenly and unpredicably. Please avoid performing these actions when you are around our animals:
- Sudden movements.
- Loud noises.
- Running (or moving quickly) toward them.
- Waving your arms. (Highlander cattle look at our arms as equivalent to their horns; the movement of horns (our arms) is used to "warn" other cattle, so if you wave your arms around erratically, it may be interepreted as a challange, and they may return the challange or turn and run away.)
Additionally, avoid the following situations:
- Getting between a cow and her calf.
- Getting between a bull and a female cow.
Do not enter our fields without being escorted by one of our staff members.,
A relatively good document on animal handling is Behavioral Principles of Livestock Handling.
To other farmers: Our management principles are rather unique; please consult with the farm staff before entering the pastures or operating any equipment (gates, etc...) Also, we are a Bio-Security aware farm!
Does all the meat you sell come from your animals?
Yes and no.
Our herd size is only about 60 animals. And we sell an average of 3 animals worth of meat a week (including wholesale and retail sales). We would go through all our animals pretty quick.
Almost all of our grass finished animals are raised on our farm. But we are starting to push the numbers a little too close to be sustainable. So we purchase animals from other farmers who have feeding practices similar to ours. We've seen these animals and know how the farmers raise them. Some are raised with grain, some are raised entirely on grass and hay. The grain fed ones go into the grain finished product line, the grass finished ones go into the grass finished product line. And we make it very clear to our slaughterhouses that we need to know which animal produced which package of meat.
Purchasing animals from other farmers has several benefits:
- It "spreads the wealth" throughout the local economy.
- It encourages other farmers to adhere to grass raised practices.
- Its better for the soils to have cattle working them instead of machines.
- Machines don't do well in most of New Hampshire's ground, but animals do much better.
"It seems to me to be too dangerous to allow inexperienced people - especially children - that close to those [horned] animals."
We never allow inexperienced people "in with" cattle, unless accompanied by a farm hand. There are several places on the farm where inexperienced people can interact with our animals in a controlled environment; where the animals are behind a wall (that they can stick their head through), or are behind electric fences. Additionally, we ask anyone taunting or cajoling the animals to leave the farm immediately because they could be enticing the animals to misbehave.,
Our animals are bred for docility and temperment. Don't forget, we have to handle them too! Furthermore, any animal exhibiting aggressive behavior is sent to slaughter as quickly as possible, and non-farm workers are not permitted near an aggressive animal until it is removed from the farm. Also, a lot of people have a pronounced fear of horned animals. To put this in perspective, there are far more traffic deaths than gorings caused by horned animals. See http://www.cdc.gov/Mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5829a2.htm. Also, most cattle-related injuries/deaths are not caused by horns, but by blunt force injury to the chest and/or head. So the animal's weight/size difference tends to be the determining factor in injuries/deaths more than horns. In spite of all the above, we request that visitors please keep in mind that cattle can have more than ten times the weight of an adult human, and to keep this in mind with interacting with the animals. Do not place your hands or other body parts between an animal and an immovable object!,
During the "cow riding" events, there is an experienced handler with the animal, and someone (usually the parent) with the rider. The animals walk slowly and are not permitted to walk freely with a rider. Only certain qualified and trained animals are permitted to work the cow riding events.
Because the animals can toss their heads (typically to ward off bugs or stray hair), we will frequently "ball" the tips of their horns during events to prevent accidental injury to handlers and riders. However, the balls are removed between events to permit the animals to use their horns in their natural state. (There are predatory dog packs in the region, and they have taken one of our calves in the past.)
What is the difference between Silage and Baleage?
Technically, Silage is "ensiled fodder" for ruminants (sheep and cattle), and is typically made from grasses (including corn, timothy, sorghum, orchardgrass, alfalfa, ...). However, in current non-technical usage, "silage" is frequently used to refer to corn silage; and the term "haylage" is used to distinguish corn silage from hay (or non-cereal) silage.
Balage is a form of haylage that is formed into large round bales.