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Animal Care

At Potter Family Ranch, we are open and look forward to any discussions or questions our customers would have about the care and raising of our animals.  With so much fear around animal agriculture built on the internet, we encourage folks to ask the people they trust to raise their food, rather than believing everything they read or see online.  Though we admit, we also google any question we have to learn the answer, there is way more to farming and raising animals than the first page of hits on a google search.  Farmers care so deeply for their animals as well as the product they are raising for you to eat and this is often times, not seen online.  Lots of farms are different, and that is perfectly OK!  We would like to tell you a little bit about how we do it on our farm.  We raise all our animals on pasture year-round.  In the northern foothills of the Catskill Mountains in New York State, this is difficult to do at least half of the calendar year.  During that time, our cows eat round bales of grass hay or baleage and a grain and mineral mix.  Baleage is grass hay that is wrapped in white plastic wrap when it is harvested.  With the little bit of moisture in it and the air-tight conditions of the plastic wrap, the hay will ferment, just like beer or wine.  This makes a yummy feed for the cows as well as a hay that is a little better quality for them to digest.  When a steer (a castrated boy cow) is around 20 months old, he will be offered a grain mix as well has all he can eat grass hay.  We feed steers a special diet extra grain the couple months prior to him becoming food for us, because it makes the meat taste amazing. 

If any of our cows were to get sick, and they sometimes do, our veterinarian would recommend a treatment plan both to make them feel better and to cure what ailment they may have.  Cows can get pneumonia, diarrhea, mastitis and also get injured just like we can.  We believe, as the caretakers of these animals, that we need to provide the best possible care we can offer and we use all the medicines available to do so.  As cows are food producing animals, all farmers, take great care that none of the medicines that we give a cow will ever be present in the meat.  For example, the drug penicillin is very common and will cure a cow of pneumonia and many other sicknesses.  If we were to give penicillin to a cow, he or she cannot become food until that drug is completely out of their system, which takes a very long time.  To put it in perspective, if you are spending extra money on a food product labeled ‘antibiotic free’, you are being misled into wasting money.  ALL FOOD IS ANTIBIOTIC FREE.  In addition, we do not use any added hormones on our farm although this point is moot as well.  Any living thing has hormones in it, it is simply a naturally occurring part of life.  So, any food that is labeled hormone free is not accurate as well.  The hormone levels in meat are naturally very low, while the naturally occurring levels in many plants, such as soy, are notably much higher.  These are just a couple examples of things that any farmer would be happy to discuss with you.  We encourage you to ask questions and look openly for discussions with the farmers who produce any of your food.