Owners Sarah Hui & Gert, Rosalie & Camille Janssens
No chemical fertilizer
No growth hormones
...but so much more...
Grass-based and local!
Our vocation is to model our farm to the romantic idea of a picturesque family farm where animals and people live a good life. This is in stark contrast to the reality of modern agriculture.
The privilege of breathing the country air, working the land and caring for our animals is our reward for hard work under difficult conditions and otherwise unprofitable investment.
Even though we know some fantastic farmers with industrial (family) farms, it is not what we are about.
Environmental agriculture is based on the principle that you are what you eat.
This goes much further than no chemical fertilizers, preventative antibiotics or growth hormones
Good food is natural food. Nature is our template. We let animals be animals. Our animals live outside as much as possible. Herbivores have evolved to eat grass - not grain, pigs have a strong desire to root.
Sunshine, fresh air, hygienic living conditions and a natural diet make for happy animals that rarely get sick and do not need preventative antibiotics.
Good food comes from a diversified farm.
Nature is resilient because of diversity. In a sense, we try to create a balanced ecosystem rather than using chemical fertilizer as a crutch for a depleted soil.
Since we feed very little grain, almost all our land is both pasture and hayfield. This is much better for the soil.
Good food is seasonal food. We follow the rhythm of nature as much as we can.
Good food is slow food. With more exercise, less grain and no steroids, hormones or chemical food additives, our animals grow slower.
That results in lean meat, yellow fat, and more taste. What is healthy for animals is healthy for you!
Good food is local food. Reducing transportation is better for the animals and the environment.
Local food means that more money stays in our community. We sure prefer a local abattoir over a huge one.
Local food encourages openness and a relationship between consumer and farmer based on trust.
Local food forces farms to stay relatively small. We think that that is essential in what we do. Small is beautiful...
Good food is social food. Our food has no hidden social costs. We do not cause pollution and we do not exploit people. We try to keep our prices reasonable.
Good food is family-friendly food. Environmental farming is not just our job, it is our vocation!
Our kids take pride in our farm. We hope to create a little paradise they will always return to.
Good food is community supported food. Rural communities are having a hard time as many young people leave in search for better jobs in the city.
We discovered that most of our neighbours and clients in city and country alike, are really cool and resourceful people. Nothing is more encouraging than your support.
We love living here and we hope to contribute to the development of our region.
Good food is not just food. In our consumption and production decisions, we chose what kind of world we want to live in.
We want you to enjoy our products as you cook and eat a good, healthy and guilt-free meal together!
Environmental agriculture is grass-based farming
that nurtures the original philosophy of the organic, bio-dynamic and permaculture movements.
We are not certified organic. Industrial agriculture -even if it is organic - thrives on cheap grain and cheap fossil fuels. It produces cheap commodities for global markets.
Information for butchers and restaurants
We produce pastured Berkshire pork and Salad Bar Beef for sale to butchers and restaurants. Our products are of constant and exceptional quality, in terms of taste, animal welfare, environment and service. Our prices reflect this quality.
We deliver only carcasses and half carcasses. We can use part of your carcass to make smoked bacon and ham, with our without nitrites. At the moment, we do not offer boxes.
We deliver every week in Montreal.
In principle, every order needs to be placed at least four weeks in advance for beef and two weeks for pork. Between September and December, the abattoirs want us to reserve more in advance in order to guarantee a spot. It would be ideal to foresee all your orders for this period in the beginning of September.
Smoking takes 2 to 3 weeks. We offer two options: frozen ham and/or bacon delivered with your pork, or fresh ham and bacon, delivered with another order, 2 to 3 weeks later; and this to save on transport costs.
In reality, we offer much more flexibility. We know that it is hard for you to foresee demand, so we try to always have surplus animals at the abattoir.
In principle, we freeze this surplus for direct sales at the farm and our delivery points, but in reality these surpluses are there to accommodate your last minute orders. Sometimes we even deliver boxes of frozen cuts to help you out.
All our prices include butchering and transport.
Known as Kurobuta in Japan, this heritage breed provides a very different kind of meat. It likely does not resemble any pork that you have ever tasted with its unique marbling, its short muscle fibres and its low acidity. And the fat is just as delicious! However, to keep the pigs from getting overly fat, we mix in just a dash of Duroc genetics. If this is the best pork in the world, it is because we take care of all the details!
We hired an expert to formulate a diet based on wheat (and barley), rather than corn. Wheat produces a whiter and firmer fat! We only buy the very best wheat on the market. The diet changes as the pigs grow. Since we hand feed and frequently weigh the pigs, we can fine-tune on the go.
Our farm tests negative to all major swine diseases.
A year before your pig is ready, we inseminate its mother. Since one cannot raise high quality meat without a top-quality boar, we carefully selected one of Ireland's finest. After almost four months, 8-16 babies are born and they grow under heating lamps with their mother until they are eating enough solid food. We do this in the barn to provide the best conditions for the baby piglets.
The pigs stay in the barn until they weigh about 35 kg. We noticed that their digestive system cannot handle pasture very well much before that. While they stay in the barn on a deep bed of sawdust and straw, we also give them some toys to play with and some hay to eat.
Come spring, we send the pigs out to pasture. We are not talking about a mud lot adjacent to the barn, as is common in organic farming. We fence dozens of acres. To keep the pigs healthy without chemical dewormers (we use turmeric to prevent), it is essential to pasture every year in a different field. In fact, we rotate the pigs through several small fields before they run out of grass or clover and do too much damage. We then reseed these mini-fields right away and they often become the best fields for our cows later. In the winter, our pigs rotate through deep straw in the barn. If the weather is nice, we sometimes take the pigs out on an asphalt pad behind the barn. In winter, our pigs have about 3 times more space than organic factory pigs, in summer about 100 times.
Pasturing, barn space and straw are very expensive. Our pigs grow a little slower because they move more and have access to more low energy fibrous feed, the result is a better tasting, and darker meat.
The last month or so, the pigs root in the woods. This adds even more complexity to the taste.
The development of the ham muscles is complete when the pig weighs 130 kg. Quality stays perfect until at least 170 kg. Should a pig get bigger than that, we use it to make all kinds of charcuterie.
Home-made loading chutes and a specialized trailer minimizes stress on the way to one of the two clean, government inspected, local abattoirs we work with. The hot carcass, that will be dry-aged for a week, weighs 104-130 kg. A professional charcutier smokes the hams and bacon. He does not use nitrites.
We also work with professionals for sausages and charcuterie.
Some of our Berkshire pork is sent fresh to specialized neo-butchers and restaurants in Montréal, the rest is cut, vacuum packed and frozen at the abattoir for direct sale to our clients.
We can sell whole and half animals (fresh or frozen) or we can sell by-the-cut (frozen only). We always have some in stock. We deliver in Magog, Bromont, and Québec and at several drop-off points in and around Montreal. To ensure quality during delivery, we have a freezer box on our truck.
In our minds it is obvious, but we should probably mention that we do not use any antibiotics, growth hormones, etc.
Salad bar beef
There are different types of grass-fed beef, depending on the age of slaughter. Baby beef weighs up to 900 lbs and comes from young animals. It is extremely lean and the taste is...neutral. On the other end of the spectrum, there is what we could describe as grass-finished beef, to indicate both that the animals only eat grass and that they have matured to the frame size needed to start to 'fill out', 'finish' or 'fatten'. We feel that the finished beef has a richer taste and it is easier to cook right.
We are slowly moving in the direction of finished beef, which is much harder to produce than baby beef. It takes at the very least 20 months to reach good finish on grass alone.
Contrary to a common belief held in North-America: leanness, maturity and marbling do not go hand-in-hand. Marbling depends heavily on breed: Angus, North-America's number one beef breed, is heavily marbled, while Belgian Blues, with very little marbling, are considered the highest quality meat in Europe. Likewise, finished Salad Bar or grass fed beef has less marbling than corn-fed beef. It is however important to note that leaner meat has to be cooked slightly differently.
We feel strongly that grass-fed beef should eat only grass and minerals: no corn, no corn silage, no grain, no grain silage, no urea, no growth hormones, no ionophores, no routine antibiotics, no cement, no cakes and no chickenshit. While other definitions may be valid, it is important to ask your producer what your grass-fed beef has actually eaten. Often, you will find out that the animal was finished on...grain.
Frankly, we know only of a handful of producers have the know-how and the genetics to finish on grass.
Anyways, we feed grass and vegetable cuttings that we recycle from a small local vegetable processing plant. And since we do not want to lie to you, we call our beef salad bar beef.
We do this because growing calves' stomachs are simply not big enough to eat enough hay to satisfy their energy requirements in winter. So, they will mobilize energy from their fat cells. Such metabolic stress leads to tougher meat. The vegetables also allow us to finish a small framed female calf before its second winter.
And then still, everything -from genetics to feed- needs to be absolutely perfect.
Our brood herd consists of very productive, medium framed and heavy milking F1 Angus-Simmental animals from a great Sakatchewan herd.
About three years before a calf ends up on your plate, our cows are artificially inseminated in mid-summer. A.I. gives us access to the very best bulls in the world. It also allows us to match every cow to a different bull. We look for the perfect match. In 2016, we used Simmental, Angus, Charolais, Limousin Wagyu and Belgian Blue sires. We really hope that the Belgian Blue cross will work out as planned: leaner meat, less marbling, extreme tenderness, shorter fibres, and heavier muscling... but we will not know for sure before the fall of 2018!
Since finishing depends on frame size, using different bulls helps us to optimally finish year-round, while keeping the herd synchronized. We measure frame size and weigh our calves regularly in order to determine perfect finish.
Our calves are born on pasture in the following spring. It is not cold or muddy and the cows really need the best spring grass. Calves stay with their mothers for 6 to 8 months before they are weaned. A good cow with enough pasture provides enough milk to get the calf to 750 pounds by then. We castrate bull calves at 3 months of age because we need to be able to run them on pasture with the calves.
Since our cows and calves only eat grass, we import huge quantities of manure and match it to soil samples and forage growth curves to keep the grass growing. We move the animals to a new pasture every two to three days to keep the grass at its growing peak.
Our animals winter outside. They do have a well-bedded three-side barn, an asphalted exercise yard and a winter-pasture. This keeps the animals as clean as possible.
For insemination, pregnancy tests, vaccinations and shipping, we use a Bud Box. The Bud Box is a corral that uses the animals' natural instincts to guide them into the cattle squeeze where they can be weighted, sorted or inseminated. There is no cussing, no cowboying and no stress!
While supermarket beef travels about 1500 miles in its lifetime, we bring the calves to a clean, local, inspected abattoir 25 minutes away. The abattoir is set up to dry-age the carcass for 3 weeks to tenderize the meat. About half of our production goes to neo-butchers and restaurants in Montreal. The rest is vacuum-packed and frozen by a certified butcher.
We sell this meat directly to our clients via our website www.fermedoree.com, either per quarter or by-the-cut. We deliver at several drop-off points in and around Montreal, in Quebec and along highway 10, with a freezer box on our truck. We always keep a few Salad Bar Beeves in our freezer but if you want a special cut, you may have to wait for about a month.