Most meat sold at conventional supermarkets often contains antibiotics, hormones, and comes from animals that were raised in very inhumane conditions. That's what inspired Michael Jones to launch Mae Farm Meats of Louisburg. His operation focuses on ethical and humane livestock production, producing cuts of pork and beef that are moist, flavorful, and come from pigs and cows that lived outside in a natural, free-range environment.
"I did not like producing livestock in the confinement system," he explains. "Using ethical and humane production techniques met my personal desires and gave me an opportunity to sell into niche markets." Jones and his wife Suzanne purchased their farm in 2004. Suzanne is a former flight attendant that wanted a life closer to nature, while Jones worked in the livestock agriculture industry, but wanted to be his own boss and farmer. Mae Farm was born and the name inspired by the first initials of the couple's three children: Max, Audra, and Enya.
The Joneses believe in sustainable agriculture that has as little impact on the environment around them as possible. With traditional feedlots used by the American meat industry, animals are confined in close quarters and the runoff from their waste finds it way into the soil and nearby waterways. At Mae Farm, the animals are never confined and instead live out their lives grazing in the property's vast woodlands and pastures. The pigs and cows are never given sub-therapeutic antibiotics or added hormones and pigs receive a special feed recipe that Jones says produces a better tasting product, while the cows are grass-fed.
Mae Farms' products cost a little bit more than supermarket meat but for his customers, explains Jones, the higher price is worth it. "Many people prefer the taste and texture of the meats we produce," he says. "We use different genetics, different feed and the animals live out their life outside in a more natural, free range environment. Meat sold in the grocery store is produced to be very economical. We focus on producing meat which is moist and flavorful. The extra cost of quality feed ingredients and outdoor production adds to the value of our product."
The beef and pork can be found regularly at the State Farmers Market in Raleigh and at a permanent booth in the Market Shoppes building. A full selection of sausages, roasts, chops and steaks as well as value added products including heat-and-serve pork barbecue, smoked sausages, smoked ham and bacon is available. With Mae Farm Meats, the product isn't just better tasting, but better for its customers and the environment.