Customers who purchase meat and eggs from Wian Prinsloo know and appreciate that the animals involved were raised in a truly holistic manner. The pastured chickens and pigs, and the free-range turkeys, enjoy a stress-free, happy life. They receive high-quality feed and plenty of fresh air, sunshine and exercise.
“My philosophy is to raise animals with compassion in a way that enhances the ecosystem and in a way that builds community and positive relations between growers and consumers in which there is mutual respect, understanding and integrity.
“I believe that sound farming practices can enhance the local ecosystem and environmental quality through the use of practices that promote efficient nutrient cycling, energy conservation, improved soil health and increased biodiversity,” says the Pilot Mound, Manitoba-area farmer and student.
Prinsloo’s affinity to agriculture goes back to when his grandparents bought him a small flock of chickens when he was five years old.
Prinsloo attended the University of Manitoba focusing on classes such as soil science, animal science, and forage and pasture management. Today he works with a couple in the area on a land-for-labour exchange. “This amazing family truly walks the walk when it comes to helping young farmers get established. They are good friends and I am very grateful to them,” he says.
Prinsloo raises broilers, turkeys, heritage breed layers, Berkshire pigs and a flock of sheep.
When the newly hatched chicks arrive, they are moved into an insulated brooding building where they are kept warm and dry. They are given barley or wheat sprouts to encourage an appetite for fresh greens. From four weeks of age the chicks are raised in a lush fresh pasture in pens which simulates a natural group size and affords protection from wind, rain and predators.
“Chickens are encouraged to display their natural behaviour which drives them to forage on insects and tender legume and grass shoots. A ration of hemp meal, barley, peas, wheat, corn and soy is also provided fresh twice daily. I make my own ration using “Top of the Hill” and “DeRuyck’s Organic Farm” organic grain screenings and their food is absolutely free from antibiotics, hormones or artificial growth promoters. They are moved daily to a new area of fresh pasture which prevents parasite buildup.
“Sheep and goats ‘mow’ the pasture ahead of the chickens to make sure it is the exact height the chickens prefer — four to six inches,” he says.
Prinsloo’s pasture-raised pigs are never kept in cramped quarters. They’re fed a mixture of wheat, barley, peas and flax and also do not receive any antibiotics in their feed or otherwise.
“It’s a matter of personal belief and ethic. If you’re going to use animals for food and landscape management, then they should be treated well and allowed to express their uniqueness as a species.
“Using animals as landscape management tools is a smart way to reduce labour, increase soil health and forage production while at the same time increasing biodiversity and complexity on the farm and practising ‘biological risk management’ like small diversified farms have done for generations.”
Prinsloo is pleased and grateful for the positive response he’s received to his products. He feels it’s important to communicate with his customers regularly to ensure they feel ownership to what he is doing and the products they purchase. “These are people who care about the quality of their food from a variety of perspectives and I am privileged to be able to serve them,” he says.
He markets his products from the farm gate and through Harvest Moon Local Food Initiative. The goal of the Harvest Moon Local Food Initiative is to “try and create a more local, fair and sustainable food system right here in Manitoba.”
For more information about Wian Prinsloo’s products phone him at (204) 997-4105 or email him at [email protected] Check out www.harvestmoon.ca for additional information about the Harvest Moon Local Food Initiative.