Operations / Process

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association and the Catoctin and Frederick Soil Conservation Districts hosted an event at Hedgeapple Farm to celebrate and highlight the successful conservation efforts of Hedgeapple and other local farmers and ranchers that are leading to an improved Chesapeake Bay watershed. 

At Hedgeapple Farm we raise Black Angus cattle that have been carefully selected and bred to produce high-quality beef on an all-forage diet. We have two groups of mother cows that we breed to produce calves every year. One group of cows are bred to have their calves born in the early spring (February-March) and another group will have their calves in early fall (September-October). We do this to help balance out our supply of market-ready cattle over the entire year.

Farm overview
Recognition for Innovative Conservation

“The agriculture sector has been a leading contributor for improving water quality in the bay, responsible for 50% of the reduction in phosphorus and 75% of the reduction in sediment runoff since 2009,″ said Jason Weller, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Chief. “NRCS will continue to work side-by-side with farmers and ranchers in Maryland and across the Chesapeake Bay who are voluntarily making conservation improvements to their land. Voluntary conservation works and is a key to improving outcomes for the bay.″

Dr. Scott Barao, Executive Director of Hedgeapple Farm, spoke about the farm's voluntary conservation efforts: "We put 254 acres that border the Monocacy River into a conservation easement. We make use of the Environmental Quality  

Incentives Program and Conservation Stewardship Program with practices which include fencing, a watering facility, pasture and hay planting and Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program planting. These practices improve the bay and contribute to our operation's sustainability in the long-term."

A springtime wagon tour of the farm

Cows are always free to roam

We proudly display our certification outside the market

Hay rolls are stored to supply the cows with food during the winter months

Fresh water troughs are found throughout the farm

The market is a reconstructed 1790s era log cabin

Calves stay with their moms from birth until they are approximately 8 months of age. They initially consume only milk but as they grow, they learn to graze and enjoy the various forages in our different pastures. When the calves are weaned they remain together with all the other calves of similar age, consuming an all-forage diet until they reach 20-24 months of age. The cows are re-bred each year while they are raising their calves with the goal of having a new calf each year.

Breeding
Grass-fed & grass finished

During the spring, summer, and early fall months we harvest and store as much high-quality hay as possible for feeding the herd during the cold winter months when pasture growth stops. Most of our pastures and hay fields are composed of both Orchard grass and Alfalfa which produces a very nutritious mix for both fresh grazing and when stored as hay. Almost all of the hay we harvest is wrapped with plastic to protect it and preserve the quality of the feed. You might have noticed the long white “tubes” along the edge of some of our pastures. That is the stored hay ready to be fed during the winter months.

The final phase of the production cycle at Hedgeapple Farm is the harvest of market-ready cattle for processing, aging, and sale to our customers through the historic log cabin that houses our farm market. When the cattle are of the right age and size, we carefully transport them to Old Line Meats in Baltimore where they are humanely harvested. Then, every carcass is graded for quality and following 14 days of dry-aging, each carcass is carefully broken down, under USDA supervision, into individual beef cuts which are vacuum sealed, flash-frozen, and labeled for sale back at the farm. We carry all of the best-known beef cuts plus a number of other gourmet cuts that you will not find in a supermarket meat case.

Future herds

We maintain a detailed database of information on every single animal that we breed and harvest, all the way through the final cuts of beef. That information is then used to direct future decisions about animal breeding, selection, feeding, and marketing. We like to say that we know each animal intimately from “conception to consumption!”