We know that the food our customers choose to feed their family matters, and because of this, customers have many questions about our products. Here, you’ll find a round-up of the questions we are most commonly asked. If you have others, please let us know by emailing, calling, or stopping in at one of the farmers markets that we attend.
Are your meats organic?
Becker Farms is not nationally certified as an organic farm. However, many of the practices we use fall under those necessary for an organic certification, and some are even considered beyond organic.
What do the animals eat?
Our cattle, sheep, and goats (which are types of ruminants — animals that ferment forages, such as grasses, herbs, legumes, and forbes) are grass-fed and grass-finished. This means that the animals do not receive grain in any part of their lives. To ensure that all nutritional needs are met, our chickens, ducks, turkeys, pigs, and rabbits (monogastrics — animals with simpler stomachs), while out on pasture, are also limit-fed a diet of sea kelp, sea salt, non-GMO corn, non-GMO soy meal (note: we had eliminated soy from the diet but due to an unstable supply of the cold-pressed canola in the quantity that we need, we had to work soy back in so that the ration would have sufficient protein; in the event that we can maintain a steady supply of the cold-pressed canola, we will remove the soy), sunflower, cold-pressed canola, black beans, and field peas. We grind and mix our rations on-farm. Peas and black beans are used because they contain high levels of lysine, which complements the low-levels of lysine found in corn and canola. Field peas contain less than 1% fat and therefore help reduce the amount of fat fed to our pigs and poultry. Sea kelp is a component of all of our livestock diets because it contains over 90 essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids in a biologically-active and absorbable form. Of note, sea kelp contains high levels of niacin and vitamin A which are important for plant and animal health. We believe that a healthy animal is a nutritious animal and we strive to raise the most nutritionally-dense food possible. We also feed Redman’s sea salt which also contains 90+ minerals, including high levels of biologically-active iron which is important for red blood cell development and is generally found lacking in biologically-active forms in many American’s diets. Redman’s sea salt is approved for use in organic production. Limit-feeding promotes active grazing, as the feed containers are placed around the perimeter of the pen. We move our poultry to new areas of pasture several times each week, to ensure that they have fresh grasses to eat and to help fertilize the fields.
Is the feed GMO-free?
Yes, all of our feed is GMO-free.
What is your position on antibiotics, hormones, etc.?
We make every effort to maintain healthy animals so that treatment is very-seldom needed. We abstain from using antibiotics, hormones or injectable vitamins as growth promotants. We do feel that vaccination is important for our cattle. We only use commercially-available vaccines and animals are never slaughtered within 6 months of receiving a vaccination. Kyle is a licensed food animal veterinarian and works diligently to preserve the health and well-being of our livestock.
Do you raise the animals you sell?
Yes, we raise swine, cattle and poultry (broilers, turkeys, and hens) on our farm. We also keep some of our livestock on three other farms, in an effort to create efficiencies and manage risk. For example, one year we learned (the hard way) the lesson of 'not putting all of your eggs in one basket'--we had just moved the hens to a different part of pasture and the next day, our area suffered a flash-flood, causing about 500 hens to drown. This unfortunate experience made us think about some of the systems on our farm and how we can better hedge risk; the result being, that we now raise hens at two other locations, in the event of predator or weather-related disasters. We also raise some of our broilers at another farm, because of the efficiencies that location has compared to our farm's set-up.
Do you process the animals?
No, we do not process our livestock. According to state health department regulations, livestock that is intended to be sold to the public (i.e. not for personal use) must be processed in a state (or federal, if crossing state lines) inspected facility. Fortunately, there are several small-scale processors in our area where we are able to process our products efficiently while also supporting the local economy.
Can I buy meats in an un-frozen state?
All of our meats are sold frozen with the exception of holiday turkeys. According to state health department regulations, we must sell our stocked meats from a frozen state.
What is the safest way to thaw frozen meat?
The gold-standard thawing method is to do so in the refrigerator; depending on the size of meat you are wanting to thaw, this can take from overnight (i.e. a 1 lb package of ground beef or bacon) to a few days (i.e. a 4+ lb chicken or roast). If you are short on time, other safe methods include: under cold-running water (note: this can also take some time), in the microwave (be sure to cook it directly afterwards), or as part of the cooking process (i.e. browning frozen ground beef, putting a frozen chicken in the crockpot, etc.). The most dangerous way to thaw meat is at room-temperature (i.e. leaving it on the counter top or in the sink). Why? Because the meat would be in what the food safety professionals call the “Temperature Danger Zone” which is the range in between refrigeration (41F) and hot-holding (135F). In this temperature range, any micro-organisms present are given a wonderful opportunity to grow and reproduce, which could lead to food-borne illness.
Do you offer nitrate-free bacon or other cured meats?
Many of our smoked pork products (smoked ham, smoked ham steaks, bacon, smoked pork chops) are processed with sodium nitrate. However, these cuts can be kept ‘fresh’ (meaning uncured) and you can then brine or season the product to your liking. For example, many customers order whole or sliced fresh side (pork belly) and make their own bacon from it. One customer who frequently purchases this option calls it, “Nothing short of fantastic!” When we prepare fresh side, we season it with a simple dry rub (consisting of salt, pepper, and a type of sugar–such as white, brown, or even coconut). After months of searching for a palatable alternative to traditionally-cured pork products, we are pleased to offer a natural-cure bacon, smoked pork chops, smoked ham steaks, smoked ham roasts, and an all-natural hot dog, which use celery root powder, cherry powder, and beet powder in place of the sodium nitrate.
Do you have bones available for making stock/bone broth?
YES! In addition to beef soup bones (which have some meat around the bone) we also have beef bones without any meat. We also have options for poultry-based stock, including chicken frames and turkey wings and necks. For space purposes, we do not always bring a lot of these along to the farmers market, so if you know you would like some, please just let us know and we will happily bring the desired quantity along.
Do you have all of your products available at farmers markets?
Yes, we try to maintain a good supply of all the various cuts we offer at both the winter and summer farmers markets. Whether in the summer or winter, if you know you want specific products (5 packages of filets, for example), we encourage you to pre-order those products before the market so we’ll be sure to have them on hand for you. We ask that pre-orders be submitted by 8 a.m. on Mondays and Wednesday; this allows us sufficient time to gather and pack your order. Give us a call (765-524-8697) or place an order on our online store.
Am I able to buy in bulk?
Yes, we have a number of bulk options for our pork, beef, and chicken. More information about bulk purchasing is available on our Bulk Ordering page.
What is a CSA?
A CSA (community supported agriculture) is a relationship between a farmer and customer. A customer commits to purchasing a set number of items each month, and the farmer has it packed and ready for them to pick up on a set schedule. Our CSA operates in 2 six-month rotations, corresponding with the winter and summer market seasons (November-April and May-October, respectively). We have three bundle options from which to choose, or you can customize your own bundle. This method of shopping saves time, money, and takes the guess-work out of what to cook each month. Learn more about our CSA program on our CSA page.
Can I come to the farm?
Yes, we welcome guests to our farm. Please call or email to schedule your visit in advance so we have someone available to show you around. If you are interested in setting up a group tour, we are happy to accommodate small school groups as well as adults. Additionally, each summer, we try to have a farm open house. The open house is typically in August, so check our website around that time each year for more information.
Do you have an on-farm store?
Not yet, but it is on our list of projects that we are working towards. We had hoped to have had this completed by now (and even made substantial renovations to the building that we had ear-marked for the store) but are realizing we may need to re-think our plans, as the intended-location of the store would interfere with the workspace where we load coolers, unload and sort meat, etc.
What kind of laying hens do you have?
We currently have ~1500 hens — a mix of Hudson Golden Comets and Amberlinks. Each hen lays about 6 eggs per week which means we collect, wash, pack, and label a LOT of eggs each week!
Why are your eggs rated “grade B” and sized as medium?
For a dozen eggs to be considered “size large”, the dozen must weigh 24 oz. As we have a limited staff and limited time at the farm, we label our eggs “size medium (or larger)” to save ourselves the resources of weighing each dozen, which is in accordance with the State Egg Board labeling guidelines. In reality, many of the eggs in your carton are a size large — some are even jumbo — and you’ve also likely got a couple of mediums in there. We do our best to ensure that each carton contains eggs large enough to meet all of your cooking needs. Similarly, our eggs are labeled “grade B” because we do not candle our eggs. Candling is an interior grading process that involves shining a bright light on the egg to determine whether the egg is fertile or not and to check for cracks or spots. According to the IN State Egg Board labeling regulations, you must candle eggs to label them “grade A”. Again, this decision is a time and resource saving measure for us. (Note: We do not have roosters on our farm, so none of our eggs have the potential to be fertile.)
When will my eggs expire?
According to Indiana State Egg Board regulations, we are required to label the expiration date 45 days from day the eggs were collected.
Do you refrigerate your eggs?
Yes, after eggs are collected, we are required to refrigerate them and keep them cold (at or below 45F) until the point-of-sale, to be in compliance with IN State Egg Board and the local health departments.
Do you sell milk?
Currently, we have two options for purchasing milk from our farm: 1) by being a member of our herd share or 2) as 'pet' milk. The milk we offer is raw (un-pasteurized), cream-line (non-homogenized, meaning the cream will rise to the top; gently rock the container to swirl the fat throughout all of the milk before using) and from A2A2 cows. Once our Stoney Creek Creamery is completed, the milk will be minimally-pasteurized to be in compliance with state regulation.
What is pet food supplement?
Pet food supplement is a mixture of ground organ meat and bones from our cattle and poultry. It is offered frozen in 1 lb packages and once thawed, is ready to serve to your pet. As with any changes to your pet’s diet, we suggest incorporating a small amount of the pet food supplement and then gradually increasing the amount, as you pet becomes used to it.
Do you have any cooking tips?
We love to cook here at the farm and have many recipe suggestions for everything from breakfast to dessert. If you’re new to cooking with products such as grass-fed and grass-finished beef or a whole chicken, the recipes will be a helpful resource for you.
Where else can I find Becker Farms products?
We are honored to work with a variety of specialty restaurants, grocers/markets, and processors including: Turchetti's Salumeria, Wildwood Market, Rooster's Kitchen, Pots & Pans, Oakwood Retreat Center, Twin Archer, Coat Check Coffee, Love Handle, and Taxman Brewing Co, just to name a few.
Do you raise Thanksgiving turkeys?
Yes, each year we raise turkeys that are ready for the holiday season (November-January). We offer three size ranges: 12-15 lbs, 15-19 lbs, and 20+ lbs. We also offer whole breasts, drumstick, wings, and necks. We also have fresh and smoked hams available for the holidays.
Why do you do what you do?
We raise our livestock and produce the way that we do, not because it is the easiest or the cheapest (far from it!), but because we feel it is the responsible and best way to feed not only our family but also for our customers (and their family).
How do you get everything done?
We don’t (ha!)–while we do put in l-o-n-g hours pretty much every day, we know that there will always be more work to do than can realistically be done in a day. We try our best to prioritize and then focus on getting those tasks done. It is always a work-in-progress around our farm. We are also fortunate to have a several people that help in various ways and we are SO appreciative of their efforts.