Ronald Simmons farms on 30 acres of land near Kenansville, North Carolina, with the help of his wife, Laurita, his daughter, Amaya Sloan, and his father-in-law, James McGowan.
“We currently have approximately 75 pigs, which we manage outdoors in roughly 22 acres of woodland,” says Ronald. “Our breeding stock consists of registered Berkshires, Yorkshires and Durocs, which allows us to create various combinations for meat quality production.”
Ronald explains that the most important aspect of animal husbandry practices on the farm include growing their own feed, the provision of fresh water, and shade from woodland: “We grow our own corn to feed our pigs, which not only keeps down feed costs, but also minimizes our carbon footprint. We always offer a number of drinkers in each pen to ensure a continued fresh water supply. The area where we manage our pigs has a natural forest canopy, which provides ample natural shade and a variety of forest vegetation for them to enjoy rooting around in. We are strong believers in the idea that pasture-based management is better for the ecosystem and, ultimately, healthier for the consumer.”
Joining AWA was an important decision for the family: “With the rise of unregulated and meaningless label claims like ‘all natural,’ we joined Animal Welfare Approved to stand out from the crowd,” Ronald explains. “It tells our customers that we really are farming the way we say we are. Our long-term goal is to be one of the leading pork producers with the highest standards for animal welfare.”
Ronald is a member of the North Carolina Natural Hog Growers Association, a long-standing cooperative of AWA-certified hog producers who sell to restaurants, retailers, and food processors throughout the region. For more information visit masterblendfarms.webs.com.