The Stockbridge Livestock Program
The Stockbridge Livestock Program was established in 2014 with a mission of educating the next generation of regenerative livestock farmers and providing the campus with source of local lean protein. Located at the Agricultural Learning Center (ALC) and working in collaboration with the UMass Student Farm, this program gives students hands-on experience working with a variety of species of farm animals.
Students in our Sustainable Food & Farming majors can gain hands-on experience raising and handling small livestock animals, either as part of our Farm Program Courses, or through STOCKSCH 269 "Small Farm Husbandry: Pigs & Poultry," a course taught by Nicole Burton, Director of our Stockbridge Livestock Program.
All animals are provided environments that allow them to exhibit their natural behaviors while improving the health of our farm land. Integrative and regenerative models used in our livestock program provide real world examples for our students who aim to be the next generation of land stewards that the sustainable agriculture movement needs right now. We market our meat products through a winter Community Supported Agriculture program, retail, and wholesale to UMass Dining services.
Our Meat CSA program is sold out for the 2023 season. Sales for the 2024 season will begin in November of 2023.
As an addition to our successful vegetable-based CSA program, the UMass Student Farm collaborated with the Stockbridge Livestock Program to start a small meat-based CSA in 2022, focused on poultry, pork, lamb and beef. Our limited supplies of farm fresh meat sell out quickly. Each year the decision of how the CSA is marketed is determined by the current class so it may be presented with some small changes each season, but you can assume there is a diversified selection of cuts and meats within a share. This year they will offer a smaller share size, that is 10 pounds per month mixture of chicken, pork, lamb and beef. Monthly pick-ups are at the farm, on Fridays, February through May.
Still have questions? Contact livestock program coordinator Nicole Burton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Each season, lambs are raised at the Agricultural Learning Center within a silvopasture system. “Silvopasture” is an integrative system of livestock grazing under tree canopy. This practice is one of the oldest forms of animal husbandry and has been used worldwide. This project began as a pilot program in collaboration with the UMass Carbon Farming Initiative. Dorset Sheep are purchased from the UMass Veterinarian and Animal Science department and raised at the UMass Hadley Farm until they are ready to move out to the ALC. The sheep are rotationally grazed in the silvopasture from April through September. The rotation not only improves pasture quality but is also crucially important to maintain the health of the sheep. When working with the sheep, students learn how to set up fencing, appropriately rotationally graze, handle sheep, take weight measurements, and load trailers. Through the livestock marketing and finance course, students also learn about preparing sheep cut sheets and the considerations necessary for fulfilling market needs.
Idaho Pasture Pigs are being raised at the ALC as part of the grant funded Woodland Pig Project. This project gives students the opportunity for hands-on work with pigs and demonstrates a regenerative agriculture approach to swine management. Pigs are rotated through low brush forested land, spending their days rooting and clearing the land. Pasture grass blends are then seeded on the newly cleared land with a long term goal of creating new healthy pasture on what was once an abounded woodlot.
All of our poultry arrive as day old chicks from a National Poultry Improvement Program certified hatchery. Breeds chosen by students and faculty include Red Rangers and the industrial breed, Cornish crosses as a comparison. All of our chickens are pasture raised and rotated in student made shelters at the ALC. Their diet consists of locally sourced milled grain, and foraged bugs and plants in fallow vegetable fields and dormant pasture. This practice allows added health benefits to the product which include higher levels of vitamins A and D, higher levels of omega 3 fatty acids, and less saturated fat than chickens raised in a commercial setting.
In addition to meat birds, Bronze Broad Breasted turkeys are being raised by students for Thanksgiving sales to the campus community at the ALC. Our turkeys are also pasture raised, rotated throughout the farm’s fallow fields and supplemented daily with locally grown grain and fresh water. Because of their rich diet or organic matter, Pasture-raised turkeys have higher levels of vitamins A, D, and E, as well as higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids which are important building blocks for cell membranes. In 2021, all birds were in a few days with an average bird weight 16 pounds after processing.