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JMB Farms

An Alabama couple is running the family farm as naturally as they can
Photo courtesy of JMB Farms

JMB farms of Samson, Alabama has been in the Baxley family for 100-years. Joseph Baxley and his wife Melissa are the fourth generation to work the 80-acres of timberland and pasture.

Joseph says his father and grandfather were in the cattle feeding business, but when he inherited the farm, he wanted a more natural, sustainable environment. He started his operation with meat goats, and transitioned to Katahdin sheep.

"We did a lot of research on the different breeds and we knew in the humidity and heat that we have in the southeast we didn’t want to get into the wool breeds and having to shear them," says Joseph. "So a hair breed was a must, and after looking at genetics and what we could grow off a grass-based environment without having to grain feed, the Katahdin was the best fit."

Joseph said they would never raise hogs, but never say never, right? They had a change of heart and looked into heritage breeds. The Baxley’s settled on the Large Black hog breed because of its docile temperament and excellent meat quality.

Turns out it was a very good decision because Joseph says the sheep and hogs have a symbiotic relationship on the farm, which is benefitting everyone.

"We can rotate our sheep onto the pasture and 21-days later we’re taking them off and rotating the hogs on and vice versa. The hogs don’t tear up the pastures, don’t root up our grass, and they complement each other," says Joseph. "They’re both the end source for the gastrointestinal parasites of the sheep for the hogs, and the hogs for the sheep. So that helps us with some more natural parasitic control."

Joseph and Melissa’s farm is “Animal Welfare Approved”, meaning they raise their livestock with high welfare standards. In addition, the Baxley’s are converting their pine acreage to a silvopasture system, which combines forestry and grazing in a mutually beneficial way.

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