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SALEM, MO.

Spring Creek Farms in Salem produces high-quality meat with help from a team of trained farm dogs

Out on a farm in Salem, Missouri, Kayla Wisdom has undergone a transformation from self-described “city girl” to a full-on farmer, producing pork, lamb, beef and chicken. Along with her husband, Josh, she has been running Spring Creek Farms since 2019.

The couple bought the farm in 2012 and initially raised and processed meat just for themselves. The decision to expand came later.

“We have all this land, and we have the means to do this,” she says. “I kind of feel selfish, not being able to share it with people that want to live in a more natural way of life and have these products.” 

Spring Creek Farms prides itself on how it raises and feeds its animals.

“Our beef and lamb are 100% grass-fed and finished,” Wisdom says. “They do not eat grain at all. They live off the land like how they’re supposed to live. That also helps people with the health aspect. You’re getting a lot of extra omega-threes and some of those good fats.” 

Not only is this diet better for the animals, but it also leads to better taste. Compared to beef you buy in the grocery store, the farm’s beef has a more developed fat cap and a deeper flavor, according to Wisdom.

The farm also does its best to ensure the animals lead happy, healthy lives.

“One of our main goals is to just raise things as accurately and humanely as possible,” she says. “All of our animals are loved and cared for. We have four kids, 9 and under. Each animal is very near and dear to every single one of them.” 

A key part of ensuring the safety of animals are the livestock guard dogs. Predators, including coyotes, raccoons and hawks, can pose serious threats to the animals, so Wisdom began training dogs to fend them off. Since bringing dogs onto the farm, the pair haven’t lost any sheep or chickens to predators – but the livestock aren’t the only thing the dogs protect.

“They are also in charge of protecting my children as well while things are going on,” she says. “All of my dogs are still very friendly to my kids, they know that this is their charge as well. I’ve just made sure that’s very clear to them.” 

Wisdom breeds guard dogs that are a cross between a Great Pyrenees and an Anatolian Shepherd. The Pyrenees brings gentleness and a family-friendliness, while the shepherd brings speed and ferocity. Training is a long process; it can take years before Wisdom trusts a dog enough to leave it alone with poultry. She has grown so adept at raising and training these helpers that there is now a waiting list for her dogs – and it is almost always full. Despite the demand, Wisdom makes sure each dogs goes to its perfect home.

“It’s typically other farmers or people that are starting off with their own homestead or farm,” she says. “We have an application on our website that we require everyone to fill out in order to be on our waitlist. I’ve met every single one of those people that are wanting to get a puppy.”

These dog breeds need work and a purpose to feel fulfilled and happy, and Spring Creek Farms is helping them do just that. It will continue to produce high-quality beef, chicken, pork and lamb with the aid of canine assistants. You can find the farm's products at Tower Grove Farmers Market or online.

Spring Creek Farms, 286 Count Road 3225, Salem, Missouri, 573.247.8208, springcreek.farm

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Managing Editor

Mary Andino is the managing editor at Feast. She loves making gnocchi, talking with farmers and makers, and promoting sustainability.

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