Black Dog Farm - Livingston, MT
Black Dog Farm is a pasture-based pork and poultry farm located in beautiful Livingston, Montana. The farm was established in 2017 and is owned and managed by Tim & Kira, a husband and wife team, along with our dogs, cats, and little girl, Dottie. Tim, a certified welder and welding teacher in his pre-farm life is responsible for the day-to-day animal care and management, vehicle and equipment maintenance, fence construction and fixing, shelter and other infrastructure fabrication, feed hauling, problem solving, and heavy lifting. Kira, a licensed veterinarian, and a practicing veterinarian in her pre-farm life, is responsible for running the business, emails, inventory, farmers markets, payroll & hiring, orders & deliveries, supply purchases, accounting, ALL the various logistics that go into making this work like planning our chick and butchering season, pork processing dates, and scheduling, as well as, of course, any veterinary care for the animals. Dottie is responsible for insisting on gator and tractor rides, feeding the cats, and surveying all of her chickens. Our farm started out of a desire to raise pork and chicken we could feel good about eating; we could not consciously consume meat from animals raised in confinement systems and had trouble finding a source of ethically raised local pork and chicken. We now know that the lack of local chicken in Montana is due to huge processing issues and constraints, but that is a story for another day.
At Black Dog Farm, we work hard every day to raise meat & eggs from animals shown respect and dignity every day of their lives. Our animals live outdoors, rotating around our farm inside portable fencing and helping us rejuvenate our pastures after many decades of neglect. Our pigs, laying hens, and meat chickens eat a corn, soy, and GMO free feed of barley, peas, wheat, camelina, and species-specific organic mineral. Our feed is grown and milled about 60 miles from our farm by another local farmer, and we are really proud to support his feed business with our farm. We employ a team of livestock guardian dogs to keep both our animals, and our resident predators, safe. We believe raising animals outdoors on pasture, where they can express their natural behaviors, produces healthier, tastier food and is better for the animals and better for the environment. We are strong advocates of the local food movement, supporting other hyper-local farmers, ranchers, and producers, both in our own home and via our online store. We are proud of the food we produce and are amazed at the creativity and variety of other local food producers here in SW Montana.
We raise Freedom Ranger meat chickens from the Freedom Ranger Hatchery. These chickens are hearty, active, and excellent foragers. The chicks spend a varying amount of time in our indoor brooder (generally 2-4 weeks, depending on the weather) where they have heat, plenty of space ro run around, and outdoor access on nice days. They then move onto pasture where we provide them with moveable shelters and protection from predators in the form of our guardian dogs. The chickens are closed into their shelters at night during the early season when weather is less predictable and let out first thing in the morning. Later in the season, we don’t close them in at night. This is why we say we raise them under “open sky,” rather than always keeping them in their shelters. The chickens are processed between 12 and 14 weeks right here on our farm in our state licensed poultry processing facility, one of only two of its kind in the state of Montana.
In addition to the plants, insects, and whatever else they forage on our pastures, the birds are fed a mix of barley, peas, wheat, sunflower seeds, and camelina that is grown and milled locally, about 60 miles from the farm. Our feed is free of corn, soy, and GMOs and also has an organic poultry mineral & organic, sustainably harvested, animal welfare approved fish meal for added protein. We are proud to support another local farmer with our feed purchases and are proud of the way we raise our chickens, even if it means a TON more work. The result is chicken you can feel good about eating: birds raised slow & well and a product with tons and tons of flavor — the way chicken was meant to taste!
In 2022, our meat chickens became Certified Animal Welfare Approved. Certified Animal Welfare Approved is an independent, non-profit farm certification program and is the only label that guarantees animals are raised outdoors on pasture or range for their entire lives on an independent farm using sustainable, high-welfare farming practices. We are very excited and honored to have this certification. The standards for meat chickens are very strict and include every aspect of our meat chickens’ lives, from where we source them, how they are transported to the farm, what we feed them, how they are housed, and how they are slaughtered.