Farm Animals

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Responsibly raised meat and dairy

You’ve probably seen the label claim “responsibly raised” – but what does it mean? To farmers, it’s an uncompromising commitment they take on every day. And, at the core of it all, it’s every farmer’s responsibility to raise safe, healthy food for your table – label or not.

Explore the perspectives of a veterinarian along with pig, dairy and beef farmers as they explain what animal care looks like on their farms.

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Tammy Wakeley


A Holstein dairy calfKeeping dairy cows safe, healthy and warm depends on more than the weather. Although being in the Midwest, weather extremes do have a big impact on animal care (cows don’t like January’s bitter cold any more than we do). It also depends on the animal’s age – dairy cattle have special needs as they grow. While the care we give them at each stage of life might be different, the level of care always remains our top priority.

Housing is one of the ways we cater to these special needs as our animals grow:

  • Our baby calves live in a calf barn, each with their own individual hut and curtain sides that can be opened and closed depending on the temperature outside.
  • At two months old, our calves are weaned off milk and placed in groups that live in pens where they have access to a barn and the outdoors while they grow.
  • At 10 months, the heifers (young females) spend their days on pasture in the spring, summer and fall. We bring them into the barn during the cold winter weather.
  • Our milk cows, dry cows (cows that are resting before giving birth) and pregnant heifers (first-time moms) are all housed in free-stall barns with curtain sides that can open and close and have access to pastures or dirt lots in dry weather.
And, it’s not just about housing. We work very closely with our veterinarian throughout each stage of our animals’ lives. We have scheduled herd health checks every other Wednesday, but our vets will come to the farm any time – day or night – to treat a sick animal. Just like people, cows get sick from time to time, and our veterinarian helps us decide the best course of action to get them healthy again.

Tammy Wakeley

"Cows don’t like the bitter cold any more than we do."

Tammy Wakeley

Tammy Wakeley's Perspectives & Posts

Keeping Our Cows Healthy

When we notice an animal not feeling well, the first thing we do is take its temperature (not unlike what you do for your children).

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Baby It's Cold Outside

​Keeping dairy cows safe, healthy and warm depends on more than the weather. While the care we give them at each stage of life might be different, the level of care always remains our top priority.

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Thomas Titus


If you pick up a package of Farmland bacon at the grocery store, there’s a chance it could be pork from the pigs raised on my farm. And behind that national brand are individual farmers like me who are committed to animal care.

Here are a few things I do on my farm to make sure you get a great slice of bacon:

  • Young pigsSpecialized diet. A piglet weighing 8-10 pounds needs a completely different diet than a pig weighing 250 pounds.
  • Adding beneficial ingredients to their feed. Chili powder helps keep pigs cool, and essential oils and oregano can improve immunity and overall health. Finding alternative ways to keep pigs healthy allows us to preserve and sustain the effectiveness of antibiotics.
  • Keeping them cozy. Pigs prefer a temperature of about 70 degrees. When pigs are comfortable, they don’t spend their energy trying to regulate their body temperature, but instead are growing healthy and strong.
  • Keeping them safe. Enclosed buildings help keep disease, parasites and predators from getting into barns and exposing our pigs to illness or danger.
As a sixth-generation pig farmer, husband and father, there’s nothing more satisfying than knowing I’ve done the best I can to care for our animals and provide safe food for my family and yours.

Thomas Titus

"Behind that national brand are individual family farmers like me."

Thomas Titus

Thomas Titus's Perspectives & Posts

Why buy pork from across the pond, Chipotle?

If Chipotle would talk to me, I would tell them that standard practice on my farm is to treat pigs with antibiotics when they are sick, and only when they are sick.

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What Success Looks Like On My Farm

A farm is not defined by its size, but by the people who work on that farm every day; the people that pour everything they have into raising a quality product.

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Megan Dwyer


Megan Dwyer's kid and a calf sitting in straw togetherWhat do raising kids and cows have in common? Choices – and lots of them. My husband and I have two young children, so the choices around raising them seem never ending. When making these choices, we rely on a variety of resources, including our trusted pediatrician, the experience of family and friends, information from credible sources and good old fashioned parents’ intuition. And when I think about it, the way we raise our kids is a lot like the way we raise our cattle.

The choices start before we buy a cow and continue throughout its life:
  • Which breeds will work best for our farm?
  • How do we keep calves healthy?
  • What kind of housing is best?
  • Do we use hormones to help our animals gain muscle more efficiently?
The choices a farmer has to make when raising cattle are nearly as endless as a parent’s when raising children. The important thing to remember is farmers care deeply about the well-being of their livestock and making responsible choices. The meat we raise not only feeds your family but ours as well.

Megan Dwyer

"What do raising kids and cows have in common? Choices."

Megan Dwyer

Megan Dwyer's Perspectives & Posts

Raising Kids and Cattle – It's all about choices.

My husband and I have two young children, and the choices around raising them seem never ending. And believe it or not, we make a lot of choices when it comes to raising our beef cattle, too.

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4 Farm Moms and the Labels They’re Not Buying

These four farm moms have an insider’s view of how food is grown and raised, so they can see right through label claims designed to make more money rather than inform.

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Wesley Lyons, DVM


In my experience as a veterinarian, farmers want consumers to have confidence that the food they raise is safe. It’s a fair expectation to have farm animals well cared for and raised in a responsible, ethical way and one I take seriously. Meeting that expectation starts with a close working relationship with the farm family we’re helping.

I’m a member of a six-vet team that helps farmers care for sows (momma pigs) on farms across Illinois. We fill a lot of roles, including monitoring overall health, helping farms hire and train employees and working with farms on welfare questions.

A pig sniffs veterinarian Wesley Lyons' handKeeping a clean house means healthy pigs

I think the term “factory farm” has created this perception that animals are just being raised – hold the “responsibly.” People might think barns are overcrowded and dirty, leading to illness and disease.

Most people would likely be surprised by the conditions and layers of biosecurity that ensure animals stay healthy and safe. Much like a medical doctor that scrubs before surgery, there’s a process for entering one of our client’s sow farms to reduce the chance of me bringing in anything that could affect the animals’ health.
  • I sign in on a visitor log that tracks who comes in and out of the barn each day.
  • After spraying sanitizer on my hands, I sit at a bench in an area similar to a locker room and take my shoes off.
  • Then, I swing my legs over to the other side of the bench.
  • Some farms have a “shower-in, shower-out” policy, so I’ll take a quick shower and then change into clothes and shoes provided by the farm.
Inside the barn, there are even more layers of protection. Barns are washed and cleaned frequently. Farmers treat these animals’ homes like their own house. We work together to keep pigs healthy right from the start, because caring for sick pigs costs more for farmers and ultimately consumers. And, just like you, I want to keep pork affordable, too.

Wesley Lyons, DVM

"It’s a fair expectation to have farm animals well cared for."

Wesley Lyons, DVM

Wesley Lyons, DVM's Perspectives & Posts

ABC's of the VFD – What does it mean for antibiotics in your food?

As of January 1, another layer of oversight has been added to the agriculture industry’s use of antibiotics through the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD). So what’s the impact and what does it mean?

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Why hormones aren’t important, why antibiotics are

Are you concerned about antibiotic residues in food? I am too, but for different reasons.

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