Georgia Farmer Will Harris Increases Poultry Production and Adheres to Global Animal Partnership’s Five-Step Animal Welfare Standards


White Oak Pastures Owner and Georgia Organics President Will Harris is pleased to announce that at the end of January, his Bluffton, Ga. farm broke ground on a new USDA inspected poultry abattoir and it will be the only poultry plant that processes free range poultry in Georgia, Florida or Alabama.

White Oak Pastures is increasing its poultry numbers in order to further develop its Serengeti Plains rotational grazing model, which means large ruminants (cows), followed by small ruminants (sheep), followed by birds (chickens and turkeys), so pastures are grazed and fertilized in three different ways.  This is the way of life that has existed for centuries in Africa. 

“We have learned that this production model is undisputedly the best management system for our land and our livestock,” says Harris.

As a result of this new poultry plant, the Bluffton farm will be selling chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese after August 2011.

Harris is also now participating in the Global Animal Partnership's Five-Step Animal Welfare Rating Standards program.  Global Animal Partnership is a nonprofit organization that brings together farmers, scientists, ranchers, retailers, and animal advocates in order to improve the welfare of animals in agriculture.  Each set of tiered standards has its own requirements that must be met before certification to that particular Step level is assigned, if appropriate.  Producers have the freedom to aim for any Step level they choose. Each Step rating has its own distinct label that identifies the particular Step level achieved.  In essence, Step One prohibits cages and crates.  Step Two requires environmental enrichment for indoor production systems; Step Three, outdoor access; Step Four, pasture-based production; Step Five, an animal-centered approach with all physical alterations prohibited; and, finally, Step Five+, the entire life of the animal spent on an integrated farm.

White Oak Pastures is one of only two farms in the country to receive the Step Five certification on its chickens, and one of only a handful of farms to receive the Step Four certification on its cattle. More information about the standards can be found here.