Noble Pastures LLC may have only launched in 2013 in Red Oak, Iowa, but the owners, David and Leslie Carbaugh, come from four generations of Iowa farming families.
High school sweethearts, the couple married and left their family farms to pursue different non-agricultural careers. Leslie worked as a physical therapy assistant. Most recently, David worked as an insurance agent for over 10 years.
But prior to the that, David spent more than a decade at the Nebraska Humane Society where he served as the director of operations. During that time, he became a Shelter Design Consultant for multiple U.S. cities as well as in other countries, including Australia and New Zealand. David also created and taught a course in shelter veterinary technology at Omaha College, Vatterott College and Iowa Western Community College. David cares about the welfare of animals, whether working at an animal shelter or on the family farm.
Combined passions lead to humane farming
A few years ago, Leslie’s passion for holistic health and David’s compassion for the humane treatment of animals combined in a joint desire to return to their family’s roots in farming.
Things got started for the couple when Leslie was “researching health issues related to our modern food system,” says David. “She’s been the driving force to improving how our we eat, drink and think about our food choices – and the driving force in how we established our farm.”
The couple took seminars and trainings on holistic farm management where they learned the key to humane farming is the land itself.
Because they weren’t entrenched in traditional farming practices, David and Leslie say they had nothing to unlearn. But they admit they had a lot to learn in order to to create a farm that was focused on the sustainability of the land and the welfare of animals.
“If you don’t have the best pastures in the world, you will fail your animals,” says David.
So Noble Pastures focused on restoring the land from chemically-maintained corn to an ecologically diverse and sustainable pasture land that supports native vegetation and wildlife to feed their cattle. They implemented a planned grazing system that moves cattle to different pastures every few days and moved some of their cropland back to native grassland.
“The farming we do is not that far removed from what my great, great grandfather might have done,” says David. “We don’t prop up animals with antibiotics or hormones. We don’t feed them animal by-products. Everyone is on pasture, weather permitting, eating native grasses and vegetation that grows on the land.”
Certified Humane perfect fit for farm philosophy
When the couple heard about Certified Humane, they felt their approaches to farming were in sync with Humane Farm Animal Care’s (HFAC) Animal Care Standards.
“We didn’t have to make any fundamental changes to join the Certified Humane® program, instead we found we had lots of good things to report,” says David. “We don’t hoot or holler or use any electric prods to get our animals moving. We lead them with hay and quietly walk them where they need to be on pasture. They get fresh grass, fresh water and lot of sunshine. Through Certified Humane®, there will be audits and inspections to keep us accountable and to show consumers what we are doing and how we are caring for the animals.”
After 27 years, the Carbaugh’s feel they have found their true calling in humane farming. Together they are building a farm where animal welfare and the sustainability of the land are priorities. “This is how all farming should be,” says David.