Blackbird Farm in Smithfield, RI
Some of what we grow is available year-round.
Fax (401) 568-7009
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At Blackbird Farm we know everything about our beef. We can tell you the pedigree, when the animal was born, what it has been fed, how it was raised, when it was harvested and how the carcass was graded...We just need you to tell us how it tastes!
Bold foods are in season now according to our Harvest Calendar. Call to find out exact availability. Every farm and every season are unique. Most farms are also residences. Unless Farmstand or Pick Your Own hours are noted, please be respectful and call ahead before going to the farm.
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Smithfield, RI - Nestled on a winding country road with the the occasional small plane (from the nearby state airport) flying above, lies Blackbird Farm, with 40 acres of fileds and forest. Accredited by the RI DEM Division of Agriculture, Blackbird Farm is home to over 50 heads of Black Angus, weighing in at an average of 1,600 pounds each. Ann-Marie Bouthillette, her husband Kevin and their kids have made raising cattle a family affair. It entails very early mornings tending to the cattle and not coming in till after dark. In addition to their specific jobs on the farm, the family members maintain full-time jobs and school work off the farm. Over the past ten years they have earned an impressive collection of ribbons and trophies in both regional and national cattle competitions.
At Blackbird Farm, they know everything about their beef. Ann-Marie says one of the keys to the farm's success is the research they put into genetics. Genetics plays a large part in a high quality cow. Black Angus are the most popular beef breed of cattle in the United States with 324,266 animals registered in 2005. Angus cattle are hardy, undemanding, and adaptable. Blackbird Farm's cattle are no exception. They research the bloodlines of the potential cows and bulls, and what is called the amount of types of beef they actually produce on their bodies.
Ann-Marie and Kevin select top Black Angus cows from across the country known for their production quality. The cows are then bred by artifical insemination on the farm with top Angus bulls that carry superior genetics. The better the genetics, the higher the yield with beautiful marbled meat. Angus females calve easily (i.e. give birth without much stress), partly because of the small size of a typical Angus calf, and have good calf rearing ability. After the calves are born, at approximately seven months of age, they are weaned and fed an all natural diet consisting of grain, including corn, hay and essential minerals.
Cattle raised for beef are allowed to roam free on the grasslands surrounnding the homestead and barn. They are fed an all-natural, highly regulated diet of grain including oats and hay that is harvested locally just for them.
Antibiotics are given only when needed, in the case of illness. "I'd never dream of giving steroids or hormones to our animals," says Ann-Marie. The better cuts are usually obtained from the steer. The heifer tends to be kept for breeding. Older animals are used for beef when they are past their reproductive prime.
The steers are processed locally between the ages of twelve and eighteen months then each carcass is dry aged for 21 days. This dry aging process insures tenderness and flavor. Then the meat is sent to Westerly Beef where it is portioned into various cuts. After USDA inspections, the various cuts are quickly frozen and packaged. A 1,200 pound Grade 1 steer yields 750 pound carcass which then produces 518 pounds. They sell the various cuts to consumers who visit them at the farm. They also sell to various Rhode Island restaurants.
As exhausting as farming is, the experience is also very rewarding. The Bouthillettes are devoted to cattle farming and enjoy sharing their passion for farming and their Angus meat with others. "Having a heart is what keeps this place moving," says Ann-Marie. You put your heart and soul into your farm, spending long days with the animals through sickness and health from infancy until meat market day. Blackbird Farm may be a new venture, but Anne-Marie is confident in her farm and her cows and proud of producing high quality beef right here in northern RI.