Sand Lily Farms

Sand Lily Farms is a small grass based operation specializing in grass fed beef for direct sale to the public.  We focus on providing high quality meat with all of the nutritional and animal welfare advantages that a pasture based system can provide.   Our system of management intensive grazing keeps our cattle on the move to fresh pasture several times a week, assuring both optimum feed quality, pasture plant health and environmental stewardship.
We are committed to quality meat.   Our animals are butchered in the late fall to maximize the time available to them  to eat fresh green pasture.   It is the consumption of this pasture that gives grass fed beef its nutritional advantage of high Omega 3 fatty acids and substances like conjugated linoleic acid.  Fall processing ensures the cattle are still growing rapidly to improve tenderness.  The USDA inspected butcher we use is familiar with the proper aging and packing of our lean product and seals the meat tightly to maintain quality for a full year.  Customers fill out a cut sheet which drives the ratio of steaks, roasts, and ground meat as well as package size.  They also make cured meats to order.  We do not implant our cattle with artificial
growth hormones.   
Sustainability is our goal.   Sand Lily Farms is grass based and low input.  By letting livestock do  the work they have done throughout human history with modern tools and methods, we try and address the challenges of modern farming.   This does not mean that we don't have significant inputs of fertilizers, fuel and purchased feeds, including some grain.  Grain feeding is a fine tool which has been vastly overused when feeding cattle and other ruminants during the industrial farming era.  It is very handy to have a little grain to balance out hay that is of poor quality for example.  It is also a treat for animals which makes them easy to lead or get them back inside a fence.  We feed very modest amounts of grain compared to the levels feed in the feed lot and nearly zero during the grazing season.  I typically apply 2 applications of fertilizer a season to help smooth out my forage supply and ensure enough feed.   I mow or make hay on most of the pastures once a season.  We compare this to the more typical farm raising beef where lots of labor, fuel, machinery  and fertilizer may go into crop and hay production to feed and clean up after
Animal welfare is our priority.  Our system offers a natural setting for our animals.  We believe in Bovinity!  Cattle should be let out of the barn on a nice day!   The feedlot so many cattle end up in is typically cramped and dirty compared to pasture, and the diet is too high in  grain promoting sour stomachs and tender feet.  Our cattle will eat a high forage diet which promotes natural health and we think happiness.  While we do not routinely give animals drugs, we treat sick animals if needed.  This has only been an issue in the winter or with new calves, meaning we have much more than the needed withdrawal time to safely use these drugs.   We use no barbed wire on our farm to eliminate the chance of injuring livestock, people or wildlife.  Our cattle are provided clean water and free choice minerals in the pasture.  We practice low stress livestock handling, attempting to lead animals quietly and calmly rather than chasing and being noisy cowboys.
Mark Ludwig
Sand Lily Farms
5920 115th Ave
Fennville, MI
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