MOUNTAIN LANE FARMS EARNS ANIMAL WELFARE APPROVED SEAL FOR HIGH-WELFARE HUSBANDRY PRACTICES
Mountain Lane Farms has recently been awarded the Animal Welfare Approved seal for high-welfare animal husbandry. Animal Welfare Approved is a free certification granted to family farmers adhering to the high animal welfare standards outlined by the non-profit program. Accredited farms use the Animal Welfare Approved logo on their products, assuring consumers that the animals were raised humanely on pasture or range and allowed to exhibit natural behavior with minimal environmental impact.
Tom Martin has known since age four that he wanted to be a farmer. Farming is in his blood—his father, grandfather and great-grandfather were all farmers. “When I was young, I never wanted to take naps or watch television. I wanted to be out the fields with my dad,” he laughs. His childhood memories of farming with his father have inspired his dedication to the land and his animals and to leaving both in even better condition for the next generation. “There’s a different way to do things these days that is healthy and productive,” Tom says. “Raising our cattle on pasture is one of the things I can do to make sure that my sons will be able to farm healthy land with healthy animals.”
Tom and his wife Sharon started raising grassfed Angus cattle in 2000 and now have about 100 head on 75 acres. Familiar with conventional systems, the transition to intensive grazing was a learning experience for Tom. “I needed a lot of fencing and to learn about grass, among other things,” he notes. “But I met so many tremendous people along the way—a real community of farmers dedicated to raising cattle on grass and to helping each other out.” Tom has volunteered with Wisconsin’s Johne’s disease control program and is a pioneer member of the Wisconsin Grass-fed Beef Coop, already giving back to those who helped him get started.
One of the benefits of Tom’s intensive grazing system is that he interacts much more with his cattle. He checks on them twice a day, getting to know them individually and adapt their care as needed. Concerned about protecting the soil and preventing erosion, Tom has also seen the benefits to the land of a rotational grazing system. “The cattle,” he says, “are our partners in growing the grass and fertilizing the soil. It’s a wonderful, natural system that works.”
Tom and Sharon are also firm believers in third-party certification, believing that it gives consumers another level of confidence in their beef, while giving them a chance to double-check their practices and take advantage of the support Animal Welfare Approved provides to approved farmers. “We read about what Animal Welfare Approved stood for and found it was synergistic with our approach,” Tom explained. “There was no question we wanted to be part of the program, especially since it assures our customers that we take the welfare of our cattle seriously.”
Tom and Sharon are working on building the market for their beef. “When people sit down to the table, they know they are feeding their families with beef from a farm serious about animal welfare and environmental stewardship. We’re hoping to start selling at farmer’s markets and online soon. People are interested in supporting local farmers, so we anticipate being able to develop a customer base quickly,” he says.
For now, Tom enjoys working with farm with his sons, Gabriel, Zach, Nate and Jacob. Four-year-old Jacob is especially interested in helping out the farm and Tom has been impressed with his youngest son’s composure when working with the cattle. “He really has a feel for it,” Tom says proudly. “He’s my right-hand man.”
Tom and Sharon Martin may be contacted at 608-874-4414 or email@example.com
Animal Welfare Approved audits and certifies family farms that raise their animals with the highest animal welfare standards, on pasture or range. The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) has lauded these standards as being the most stringent when compared to other third-party certification programs. Visit www.AnimalWelfareApproved.org for a searchable database of approved farms and restaurants, shops and markets where their products are sold. Choose the one independent food label that means healthy, safe, environmentally responsible and humanely raised.