Environmental sustainability and humane care guides practices at Dingo Farms

At Dingo Farms humane care of the animals is paramount, as is proper care of the land and environment. This Bradford-local farm sells naturally-raised beef, pork, lamb and seasonal poultry.

Animals are fed with a mix of hay and silage grown on the farm and pasture feeding. Non GMO grains and trace minerals supplement the animal’s diets, antibiotics and hormones are never used. The practice of pasture feeding allows the animal to work hand-in-hand with nature. At present, animals are pasture fed seasonally, but plans are underway to seed down more pastures to allow for rotational grazing and expand the amount of time the animals feed this way.  Not only is this beneficial to the animals, it also returns nutrients to the soil in manageable amounts, helps with seed distribution, reduces the need to transport animal feed, and reduces land maintenance. Moving the animals regularly between pastures allows the vegetation to recover and eliminates damage related to overuse.

Describing their farm as a closed-loop, members of the Harrison family (owners and operators of Dingo Farms) will explain how animals are born and raised on the farm, how feed– including non-GMO grains– and nutrients are grown on the farm, and how manure is composted on site to use as a soil amendment for crops. The key to this system working effectively is keeping the flock population a manageable size that does not require more than the land can provide. Land around watercourses is kept in a natural state to act as a buffer and protect water quality.

As food for the animals is grown on the farm, planting and irrigation practices used also reflect a concern for environmental sustainability. GPS technology allows the operators of Dingo Farms to specifically identify areas that require attention. Highly efficient sprayers that can target specific areas keep water, fertilizer, pesticide and herbicide use to a minimum. Watering systems for the animals draw from four wells on the land, but equipment needs such as filling sprayers are met by using rainwater harvested from the shop roofs to conserve water.

Future plans include the purchase of a Strip/Till machine which allows for planting while reducing the need to till soil. This machine leaves earth between rows undisturbed and therefore it is not lost due to erosion. GPS technology allows for precise tilling, and fertilization.  Other farming technological advances include a machine that “knifes” liquid fertilizer right into the ground beside plant root beds which maximizes plant uptake. Dingo Farms is also experimenting with planting cover crops in between crop rows, and planting two compatible crops side-by-side.

When animals are sick, they are separated from the herd and treated holistically if possible. Antibiotics are only given to individual sick animals when absolutely necessary. They are then removed from the herd and sold on the conventional market. Green foods and essential oils are given to the animals to pro-actively promote good health. Visitors to the farm are not allowed to come into contact with the animals to reduce the risk of disease spread.

The on-farm store uses biodegradable/compostable bags, and boxes that contain recycled content. In fact, Dingo Farms operators make an effort to find sustainable providers all the way up the supply chain. A geothermal system provides some of the heating and cooling required on the farm. Recycling is a high priority on the farm, including all the bale wrappings, net wrap and twine.

Dingo Farms meats can be purchased online, at the farm (either by appointment or on Saturdays 9-3), or at the Dingo Farms stand at the East Gwillimbury or Bradford farmers markets.

 

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