Judith Genova and Allan Freedman raise their AWA-certified sheep, pigs, and laying hens on B & Y Farms in Spencer, NY. Having lived on the property since 1987, Judith and Allan started farming for a living in 2007.
They began by marketing directly to local customers in the greater Ithaca area, but soon established a meat share for local customers. After applying to sell through the NYC Greenmarket system in 2011, B & Y Farms has since expanded to sell their pastured pork, lamb, and eggs to a wide base of dedicated patrons. “Our customers feel a connection to our farm and animals which we promote through weekly e-mails and updates,”says Judith and Allan. “They see us as their personal farmers. We want our customers to trust that what we describe to them as our farming practices is authenticated and verified by an independent third-party such as Animal Welfare Approved.”
As a part of their sustainable approach to animal husbandry, Judith and Allan have been improving their pasture and developing the farm’s infrastructure to support their pasture-raised and grassfed operation, always keeping the viability of their pasture at the top of their priority list. They chose a forage seed blend well suited for both sheep and chickens, and have arranged electric fencing throughout the property so they can easily move the animals around and prevent over-grazing, which can damage the pasture.
Currently farming 73 acres, they allow their pigs to forage the wooded hills, while their sheep and laying hens live on pasture. The barn that they constructed allows them to lamb under cover when necessary, and to start their chickens in safety under brooder lamps before they transition them to pasture. Judith and Allan have built several portable poultry houses that they surrounded with solar powered portable electric fencing to help protect the hens from predators. This also allows them to move the birds regularly around the farm, ensuring they always have access to fresh pasture and preventing the build-up of potential parasites and diseases.
“We raise Tunis sheep, a traditional breed that was nearly eaten to extinction during the Civil War,” Judith explains. “They are a breed that does remarkably well on marginal pasture, and are excellent in snow.” B & Y Farms is also home to a drove of Yorkshire/Hampshire and Yorkshire/Tamworth-cross hogs. Judith and Allan supplement the pigs’ certified organic feed with foraged hickory nuts and bramble, as well as apples, pumpkins, yams, and greens from their garden. They also raise Rhode Island Red laying hens which spend all day on pasture as their nesting boxes are outside.
Judith and Allan are clearly dedicated to pasture-based management: “We are adamantly committed to raising our animals outdoors and not in a barn. Our chickens roost in the trees, our pigs sleep under the trees. Our lambs are free to roam outside all day or in the cool shade of a barn overhang or tree. It’s completely up to them.”
In the future, they hope to steadily increase the size of their sheep flock and will continue to improve their pasture to further reduce the need to bring in additional grain.
AWA-certified pork, lamb, and eggs are available directly from the farm, by internet mail order, or at the Tompkins Square Greenmarket (Avenue A & 7th Street) in Manhattan, and the Forest Hills Market in Forest Hills, NY. For more information, visit the farm’s website.