Watson Farm in Jamestown, RI integrated pest mgmt
Some of what we grow is available year-round.
Historic New England's Watson Farm has been managed by Heather and Don Minto since 1980. They raise 100% grass fed and finished Red Devon Cattle and Cross bred sheep for lamb and wool.
Don and Heather are deeply committed to Rhode Island agriculture and developing better economic return for farmers all over the region. They are founding members of Rhode Island Raised Livestock association and the Rhody Warm Wool initiative.
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Jamestown, RI - Don and Heather Minto have been raising sheep and cattle for meat and wool markets for over 20 years. Their establishment is set on the historic Watson Farm (Jamestown, RI), which was bought by Job Watson in 1789 and planted with various crops for five generations. The original farmhouse, built in 1796, is still standing and used as the Minto's home. Many of the fields overlook a very scenic portion of Narrangansett Bay.
All the animals raised on the farm are grass-fed throughout the year. The Mintos employ a rotational grazing method in which they use electrical fencing to block off portions of their fields. The fences are gradually moved in order to allow the animals to graze off of new, full patches of grass and to allow eaten-down sections to re-grow.
Don and Heather are currently involved in a national, grassroots program to introduce a breed of cattle called Red Devon into the United States. This particular breed is very popular in New Zealand because it is an overall strong breed, significantly more than those commonly used for mercantile meat products in the U.S., such as Holsteins (white with black patches). Over the past forty years or so, as the meat industry in the U.S. has become increasingly more commercialized, those common breeds of cattle have actually genetically adapted in certain ways to their grain diets and the small spaces allotted to them. These breeds have become weaker over time; they are no longer optimal for raising healthy grass-fed animals.
Consequently, the Mintos have participated in the importation of a dozen Red Devon cattle from New Zealand and the flushing of embryos for artificial insemination to further incorporate the stronger genetic pool into their herd. Currently, they have pure-bred Red Devons and crosses with their other breeds, and hope to eventually have a complete herd of Red Devons.
Being raised on grass is not only healthier for animals it is better for the environment and creates healthier meat for consumers. All of the Mintos' animals are also hormone-free.
The digestive systems of both sheep and cows are biologically designed to convert grass and other forage materials into energy and to extract the nutrients they need for healthy muscle development. When animals are fed a grain diet (a very common practice in commercial meat production), the resulting fat content is significantly higher than meat produced from a grass-fed animal. Grain diets are simply too rich in fat-producing nutrients for what animals are adapted to do. Not only is a lower-fat, more nutritious diet better for the animals, their meat is much healthier for the people who eat it.
In addition, grass and other forage is infinitely easier and more efficient to grow than any form of grain. To produce grain for feed, crops must be planted, cultivated, harvested, processed, and transported. This process must occur each time a new portion of grain is grown. Raising animals on grass reduces labor, costs, and fuel used for growing, harvesting, and transporting feed crops, making it a much more viable option.