At Acabonac Farms, our philosophy goes beyond simply producing meat. We believe how food is produced is an essential ingredient in the ultimate nutrition and flavor of the final product. Our job is to enhance the health of Long Island's soil via regenerative ranching practices and utilize this enhanced soil health to grow better forage that feeds our animals – resulting in the best tasting and most nutrient dense meat available.
How do we achieve this? By letting four different animals – cattle, lambs, pigs, and chickens work together as nature intended with each animal bringing their unique benefits to the soil, each other, and ultimately, to our customers. Here's how our integrated approach to husbandry and land management works:
Cattle & Lambs:
Our cattle and lambs live on the pasture together and are often the first animals to begin grazing a rested piece of land. Together they will graze on a particular patch of pasture, munching down on grasses, stimulating new growth, and leaving behind their manure.
The cattle and lambs each have a preference for different types of vegetation – cattle preferring tender grass and lambs gravitating more towards weeds and legumes. This means they each play a role in controlling weeds and diversifying the plant species in our pasture.
Through careful observation of pasture conditions our cattle and lambs will spend between one and three days on a plot of land before being moved to an adjacent plot. Once moved the land will rest for period of time before it is used again. This cohabitation and frequent rotation allow us to produce well marbled delicious beefand flavorful tender lamb.
Bring In the Chickens
Once the land has had time to rest from an initial grazing we move our chicken sleds in and allow our birds to play cleanup crew. They scratch around in the soil, spread out the lamb and cattle manure, and eat up any insect pests, especially the larvae, breaking the pest life cycle.
Chickens also provide a different, nitrogen rich, form of natural fertilizer that helps promote vigorous growth in our pastures. This additional boost of energy supercharges plant growth and root formation – leading to even better soil health.
To help keep our animals safe and healthy we space out the time between when our chickens visit the same plot of land as our cattle and lambs. This resting time is essential to curb the spread of potential zoonotic diseases and parasites.
By allowing our chickens to eat their natural diet, supplemented by high quality, non GMO feed to round out their diets we are able to produce nutrient rich and deeply flavorful chicken for our customers.
The Role of Pigs
Our pigs do not pasture on the fields like our other animals. Instead, they live in the protective tree stands adjacent to our pastures. While in the forest our pigs can express their natural behaviors and live like pigs while enjoying the shelter of towering trees. They root the soil which prevents compaction and improves water infiltration, eat plants and fungi which helps keep underbrush in control, snack on insects and larvae to control the pest population, and of course deposit natural fertilizer. All of these activities lead to happier, more healthy pigs and trees - ultimately resulting in flavorful and nutritious pork.
At Acabonac each animal brings its unique set of benefits to the farm, and their combined activities create a system that's more than the sum of its parts. We believe in working with nature, not against it. This philosophy not only rebuilds and enriches Long Island soil but also produces superior meat – a direct result of the way we raise our animals. By understanding their complementary roles and benefits these animals bring to our land we harness age-old practices - creating a sustainable, regenerative farming model that benefits the earth and provides delicious, nutrient dense meat to our customers.