Ensuring that our animals live a good life is at the forefront of our approach to animal husbandry. We practice low-stress animal handling techniques, respecting each species’ innate mental and emotional characteristics. We pay special attention to each breed’s ability to thrive in Northern California, creating homes for our swine and poultry that allow them to be both comfortable and stimulated. While striving to produce the highest quality meat, we take the long view of agricultural productivity in our day-to-day decision-making and farm practices. We practice management intensive, rotational grazing with our animals, moving our cattle, sheep, goats, swine, and poultry intentionally across the land to make the best use of forage, break parasitic cycles, and create healthy soils. By allowing our animals the freedom to graze and the right to express their natural herd mentality, we are able to raise the highest quality and most nutrient-rich, full-flavored meat possible.
- BeefOur cattle have been selected for their ability to thrive on a grass diet from a breed mix that includes Angus, Hereford, and Wagyu. We run both a fall and spring herd of cows in order to best utilize our forage and water resources. By calving five months out of the year, we are able to stagger maturation and in turn, maximize our ability to harvest finished beef throughout the year. We keep calves and cows together for the first 8-10 months of the calf’s life where the pairs graze, roam, rest, and play on our irrigated pastures and native grassland hills at the foot of Mt. Shasta. Our beef is harvested at 25 – 30 months of age (compared to 18-19 months in conventional operations), which gives it a richer flavor and better marbling. Like all animals at Belcampo, cattle are handled on foot and horseback whenever possible. The majority of our beef is fed an exclusively grass diet. In December and January when our pastures are limited, we integrate a barley ration from our own production for some of our beef – beef that has had this finish is clearly marked at the point of sale. All our beef is certified organic.
- Sheep & GoatWe raise hair sheep and hardy meat goat breeds both for their meat quality and their natural ability to thrive on pasture. Our hair sheep, Katahdin, Dorper and Navajo Churro, are parasite resistant breeds whose natural resiliency supports our ability to raise them organically. Our meat goats, Boer and Kiko crosses, are robust foragers selected for their hardiness and enhanced meat production. As with all our animals, breeding happens in accordance with natural cycles and seasonal changes. Ewes and does browse on the hills surrounding our farm as well as on our rich irrigated pastures while raising their lambs and kids.
- SwineWe raise a Berkshire-Ossabaw crossbred pig, which gives our meat a rich flavor and deep red color. The Ossabaw Island Hog originated from Spanish maritime pigs that, centuries ago, were left on Ossabaw Island, a barrier island in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Georgia state. A descendent of Iberian hogs, the Ossabaw is prized for its dark meat, rich flavor, and incredible fat development, perfect for curing. The Berkshire pig is an English breed of great antiquity, today revered worldwide for its flavor, color, and fat quality. The biology of the breed – tightly woven muscle proteins – allows for high flavor development and moisture retention during the cooking process, ultimately, producing delectable, tender pork. At the farm, we are dedicated to building environments that provide both comfort and stimulation for our swine. From allowing them to forage in our tule wetlands to the forested hillsides of the farm, we are committed to providing habitats that mimic ideal natural environments for pigs. Since our pigs can explore and forage the diverse local landscape in addition to eating custom diets based on farm grown cereal grains, our resulting pork is a true reflection of the Shasta Valley terroir.
- ChickenWe raise slow-growing heritage breeds for our meat chickens. These birds develop better flavor and are hardier on pasture with more natural growth rates when compared to conventional breeds. We use mobile poultry coops that enable us to transport our flocks from pasture to pasture following the movement of our cattle. By following the rotation of our beef herds, our birds help aerate the soil and reincorporate the nutrients found in cattle manure into the land, thereby fertilizing our pastures and promoting stronger and more diversified grasses and legumes. In conjunction to raising broilers, we also raise a wide selection of layer breeds. By maintaining a variety of breeds in our flock, we are able to produce multi-colored eggs – full flavored with vibrant orange yolks – year round. Our birds are given full access to the outdoors, undergo natural processes such as moulting without interference, and are further protected by our livestock guard dogs.
- TurkeysThis year we are collaborating with BN Ranch to raise a limited selection of free-range, Broad-Breasted Whites and heritage turkeys. Raised locally within two hours of the Bay Area, these birds eat a variety of wheat and sunflowers and are never corn-fed. Like all of our poultry, these birds roam freely, which allows them to exhibit natural behaviors and forage for food, ultimately producing full flavored, succulent meat.
- Ducks & GeeseWe maintain Pekin ducks and Embden geese in mixed flocks where the presence of the larger geese alongside the ducks provides an added layer of protection in the wild natural environment where the animals are raised. With streams intersecting our pastures, our waterfowl are given ample opportunities to swim, bathe, and exhibit their natural behaviors. When not playing or preening in the water, they pasture on rich legumes like alfalfa and clover. This diverse diet allows our waterfowl to choose the feeds which best fit their current needs.
- Quail and PartridgeWe raise quail and Chuckar partridges as part of our game bird program. Our birds are kept in secure flights that allow them to fly and move about naturally without the threat of predators. Inherently skittish animals, we aim to minimize injury and other health risks by keeping a low stocking density and handling them as little and carefully as possible. To this end, our game birds have free choice of feed and water at all times.
- RabbitWe raise American Chinchillas as well as a small herd of American Blue and White rabbits. By raising American Chinchillas – a rare breed – we can improve the breeding stock and insure the continuation of these heritage rabbits, an effort that is central to Belcampo’s ideals of sustainability and preservation. Our breeding does are kept indoors, an environment that provides safety, familiarity, and comfort during the littering months. We breed our does only four times a year in order to give them sufficient rest periods between each litter and we house our bucks next to the does so that neither sex is isolated. By finishing our rabbits on pasture and rotating them daily, they are free to forage and ultimately, develop a richer more delicious taste.