Spring is an exciting and typically really busy time for our farmers. Childhood picture books suggest it’s the season of birth. True. But birth actually happens more year-round than you might imagine. If animals were only born in the spring, we’d only be able to offer fresh meat on a seasonal basis.
Female hogs (sows) actually have two litters of pigs each year and our hog producers work together to stagger their schedules so there are top hogs available continuously. It’s trickier with beef production.
A typical cow/calf operation in North Carolina will schedule calves to be born in the fall, wean in the spring and sell the calves before the summer. We ask our producers to keep those calves and raise them to full maturity, which takes another year plus. As we’ve grown our beef network, some of our producers have transitioned to also calving in the spring to extend our supply and most of them use a high fiber supplement to help regulate weight gain.
The fact that we have lamb available year round is something of a miracle. Lamb is the most seasonal of all livestock with ewes typically giving birth only once a year in the spring. For the past three years, we have been working with a small group of producers to extend the lambing season, coordinating and staggering schedules, keeping ewes in tip top shape and strategically managing pasture rotation patterns and nutritional supplementation to adjust maturity rates. We’re proud to report that this will be the first year we will have NO break in our fresh lamb supply.
So, yes, we celebrate spring as a time of renewal and are grateful that for the ingenuity and commitment of our producers to manage their livestock to ensure we have a year-round supply.