Frequently Asked Questions

All your questions answered in one place.


Q. What’s the difference between Free Run and Free Range?

Free Run animals are raised in barns with the ability to roam freely. They do not have access to the outdoors. This type of housing is most commonly used when raising animals where biosecurity protocols are especially necessary to keep animals healthy and safe. This system allows farmers to protect animals from predators and reduce the risk of bacterial or viral contamination.

Free Range animals have access to the outdoors. This system is most commonly used when raising hardy animals for which biosecurity is less of a concern, such as beef and lamb.

Q. Which system are your animals raised in?

• Rowe Farm Eggs – Enhanced Housing System – See “Laying Hens” section for more info
• Rowe Farm Omega 3 Enriched eggs – Free Run
• Rowe Farm Organic Eggs – Free Range
• Beef – Free Range
• 100% Grass Fed Beef – Free Range
• Pork – Free Run
• Tamworth Pork – Free Range
• Chicken – Free Run
• Turkey – Free Run
• Lamb – Free Range

Q. Are your meats certified organic?
Our meats are not certified organic. The biggest difference between conscientiously farmed and organic is that we don’t require the use of certified organic animal feeds. Organic feeds are significantly more expensive than non organic feeds and sometimes difficult to source locally. This has a large impact on the total cost of production and the affordability of healthier options for many consumers.
Q. Are your meats gluten free?
Yes, all our primary meat cuts are gluten free. We do not add any flavour or moisture enhancers to our products.
We do however offer a selection of marinated meats that may contain gluten, including cuts marinated with our jerk, teriyaki and Korean sauces. If in doubt, just ask our retail staff and they will be happy to advise.
Q. How do you source ingredients used in your marinades?
Wherever possible we use local ingredients that are:
• Low in sodium
• Contain no artificial preservatives
• Contain no artificial flavours
• Contain no artificial colours
• No refined sugars
• No moisture enhancers
Q. Why doesn’t all your labeling indicate no growth hormones? Does that mean you add hormones to chicken and pork?
None of our animals are raised with growth hormones. Rowe Farms’ products are produced in CFIA approved facilities so we must comply with CFIA labeling protocols. The CFIA prohibits the use of growth hormones in pork and poultry production in Canada so to label our chicken and pork as hormone free would be misleading. Please see the attached sheet as a guide to labeling.
Q. How do you decide what you pay your farmers?
At Rowe Farms, economic viability for our farmers is of critical importance. We work in close partnership with our farmers to understand the cost of production for their specific farms. With this in mind we work on providing pricing that is consistent and allows our farmers to run a sustainable farming operation with the security of knowing what pricing Rowe Farms will pay. It is our sincere hope that this approach will keep more local Ontario family farmers on their land and will provide future generations with a viable business model.
Q. Can the public visit an operating farm?

Absolutely! We organize an annual “Farm Day” where we invite the public to tour a working Rowe Farm and experience first hand how Rowe supports sustainable farming and the humane treatment of animals. If you’re interested in attending Farm Day, please send an email to and we will add you to our mailing list and email you when the date has been confirmed.

Q. How do you guarantee animals are raised in accordance with your principles?
Ensuring our farmers are dedicated to conscientious farming principles is critical. In order to guarantee our farmers’ commitment to the Rowe agricultural model we have a stringent inspection and audit process including:
• 4 annual Rowe Farms inspections
• Annual Rowe Farms audit
• Annual third party audit
• Farmer signed affidavits covering animals sold to Rowe Farms
• CFIA review and approval of method of production and label claims
Q. How can I join the Rowe Farms team?
We’re always looking for talented people with a passion for creating a more sustainable food system. If you’re interested in working at Rowe Farms please email your cover letter and resume to

If you have any questions not answered here please email for more information.

Animal Feed

Q. Does your feed include animal by-products?

All our animals are raised on strictly vegetarian feeds with absolutely no animal by-products or stimulants. In conventional agricultural operations, animals are commonly fed feather meal, bone meal and fish meal as a cheap protein source. We work in partnership with Grand Valley Fortifiers (GVF), a leading livestock nutrition company, to ensure that our animals are raised on vegetable grain feeds with no animal by-products, no antibiotics and no growth promotants … ever. Our feeds are carefully formulated by nutritionists from GVF, ensuring that animals receive all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients that promote robust immune systems that ward off disease and health stresses resulting in healthy and happy animals. This, in turn, results in the provision of high quality, safe, wholesome and great tasting pork, chicken, beef, turkey and lamb for our customers.

Q. Are you using feeds that contain arsenic as a parasite control method for poultry?
We absolutely do not use arsenic as a control method for parasites, or for any other purpose on our farms.
Q. Does your feed include GMOs?
At this time, some of our animal feeds contain GMOs. In response to growing consumer concern we are working towards a GMO free policy. In the meantime, we will continue to monitor the World Health Organization’s perspective on the human impact of eating animals fed GMOs. Please see the chart below:
• Chicken – Yes
• Turkey – Yes
• Pork – Yes
• Tamworth Pork – No
• Beef – Yes
• Grass Fed Beef – No
• Lamb – No
• Wiltshire Horned Lamb – No

If you have any questions not answered here please email for more information.

Laying Hens

Q. Are all of your eggs raised in Free-Run environments?
Yes, as a minimum all of our eggs come from birds raised in free-run environments. Our organic eggs are raised in a free-range environment.
Q. What happens to male chicks in your egg laying operation?
All of the chicks supplied to both egg laying, and broiler chicken operations are provided by CFIA approved and monitored hatcheries. As a company, we are far too small to impact these operations and we focus our efforts on the welfare of the birds once they arrive on our farms. At this time there is no commercial value for male laying hens and they are commonly used in pet food. Again, Rowe Farms does not have any visibility to this operation. For more detailed information on how these facilities operate, we recommend contacting the CFIA.
Q. What causes blood spots in eggs?
Blood spots occur when blood or a bit of tissue is released along with a yolk. Each developing yolk in a hen’s ovary is enclosed in a sack containing blood vessels that supply yolk building substances. When the yolk is mature, it is normally released from the only area of the yolk sac, called the “stigma” or “suture line”, that is free of blood vessels. Occasionally, the yolk sac ruptures at some other point, causing blood vessels to break and blood to appear on the yolk or in the white. As an egg ages, the blood spot becomes paler, so a bright blood spot is a sign that the egg is fresh.

Blood spots occur in less than one percent of all eggs laid. They may appear in a pullet’s first few eggs, but are more likely to occur as hens get older. Blood spots may be triggered by too little vitamin A in a hen’s diet, or they may be hereditary – if you hatch replacement pullets from a hen that characteristically lays spotted eggs, your new flock will likely do the same. It is safe for humans to eat eggs with blood spots.

Q. Why do your eggs have more blood spots than the white eggs I generally buy?
Eggs are checked using a process called candling where they are passed over a strong light to identify any imperfections inside the egg. Any eggs with blood spots are usually removed but Rowe Farms eggs are brown and are more difficult than white eggs to examine by candling. Blood spots are not harmful to humans but if desired they can be removed with the tip of a knife before cooking.
Q. Are your laying hens debeaked?
As a general practice, our laying hens are not debeaked. In the event of an aggression problem and when beak blunting is the only viable alternative, beaks of 2 – 3 day old chicks are passed over a laser beam which deadens only the very tip of the beak by restricting the blood supply. Physical cutting of beaks is not permitted.
Q. Why do your eggs occasionally taste fishy?
Flaxseed is rich in omega-3 and it is a volatile fatty acid. It makes fish taste fishy when it gets old. That is why they store flax oil in dark bottles and you have to keep it refrigerated and why they sell flaxseed whole and recommend you grind it at home. Once you grind it and the oils get exposed to air they can go rancid.

There are two possible scenarios causing the fishy taste:
1) The chickens who laid the eggs for some reason ate a higher than normal percentage of flaxseed, likely because the feed was not blended well enough.
2) The consumer who ate the eggs is particularly sensitive to the taste of fish. Some people just don’t like omega-3 eggs because they can taste the fish. We recommend that these consumers eat a different variety.

If you have any questions not answered here please email for more information.


Q. What’s the difference between your regular beef and 100% grass fed beef?
Our standard beef is pasture raised and grass/forage fed for approximately 80% of its life. During the last 3 – 4 months, grains are introduced into the diet as part of their finishing regimen. The grain component cannot exceed 40% of the feed content and 20% is the standard. Cows’ stomachs aren’t designed to digest grain and they often become sick as a result of grain-based diets. Because of this, corn exposure must be minimized or the animal would require an antibiotic to remain healthy. It is the grain regimen during cows’ last 10 weeks that creates the marbling and flavour that customers have come to expect from high quality Ontario beef.

Our 100% grass fed cattle is not finished with any grains whatsoever. The entire diet is grass and forage. This produces a much leaner product that is higher in vitamins, omega-3 and CLA. It is also lower in calories and fat.

Q. Why don’t you sell Grass Fed Beef year round?
We focus on selling 100% Grass Fed beef from September to March. In our experience, this produces the best tasting and most tender product. Although growing, this market is still too small to offer a year round program. By focusing on a specific selling period, we allow our farmers to better plan to support our business.

If you have any questions not answered here please email for more information.

Chicken & Turkey

Q. Do your chickens go outside?
Our chickens don’t have access to the outdoors. They’re raised in large barns with lots of space to roam and unrestricted access to feed and water. Careful consideration is given to lighting and air quality to simulate a natural environment and ensure animal comfort. The challenges associated with raising chickens outdoors include increased vulnerability to predators and susceptibility to bacterial or viral contamination.
Q. Do you debeak your chickens and turkeys? What’s the process?
Chickens are not debeaked and do not receive physical alterations of any type. Our farmer has found that the combination of solid genetics, sound nutrition, a stimulating environment and light management can reduce their aggressive nature and eliminate the need for alterations.

Turkeys are a far more aggressive bird and feather pecking is a common problem. Our turkey producer uses beak blunting to minimize the impact to the flock. Birds have the tip of their beaks passed under a laser which deadens the skin so the tip falls off. This is performed on birds when they are only 2 days old and it only affects the very tip of their beak. Beak cutting is strictly prohibited. It’s important to note that both the Organic and Certified Humane standards allow beak trimming.

Q. Why feed chickens and turkeys vegetarian diets if they are omnivores?
It is true that in an open environment, chickens and turkeys will naturally eat grubs, bugs and other insects. However, in conventional agricultural systems, they are fed feather meal, bone meal and fish meal. These products are all by-products of other processing systems (feather meal is produced by pelletizing the chicken and turkey feathers removed from birds at the slaughter house) and represent cheap sources of protein or omega-3. At Rowe Farms, we do not support the practice of feeding animals the by-products of other animals. We use vegetable grains such as flaxseed for our omega-3 source.
Q. Why are your chicken and turkey air chilled?
In conventional chicken processing operations, birds are submerged in vats of ice water to chill after slaughter. Although the water chilling system is faster, water gets absorbed into the meat and dilutes its natural flavour. This adds unwanted weight and means that the customer is paying for dirty water used to cool hundreds of birds. We are firm believers in the air-chilled system for the enhanced tenderness and flavour it produces.
Q. What is your breed of chicken?
The Ross Ross breed. We have found this breed to provide a consistently great tasting product. The Ross Ross breed has strong bone structure and solid genetics which reliably provide healthy birds.

If you have any questions not answered here please email for more information.


Q. Are your pigs raised in gestation crates?
In conventional farming models, sows are restricted in gestation crates when pregnant. Rowe Farms strictly prohibits the use of gestation crates and tethering of sows.
Q. Do you use farrowing crates?
Farrowing pens must provide open access for piglets to move away from the sow and out of the farrowing pen.
Q. When medicating is required (including deworming) is the entire herd medicated?
Yes – the herd would be dewormed in sequence.
Q. What happens if a hog dies during transport?
If a hog dies during transport, it is disposed of at the abattoir. The death is documented and Rowe Farms follows up with the farmer to investigate what happened.
Q. What makes your bacon so tasty?
Our bacon is cooked and naturally smoked in a smokehouse using maple hardwood. Bacon is brined using minimal water and salt and thick sliced. The result is bacon that is full of the natural flavour and goodness that our customers have come to expect.

If you have any questions not answered here please email for more information.

Deli Meats

Q. Do you use nitrates in your cured meat?
Nitrites and nitrates are preservatives used in meats to inhibit bacterial growth and preserve colour. Nitrates are vastly more commonly used as they are more effective at preserving colour and extending shelf life. The problem with nitrates is that during their reactive process they can in some cases produce nitrosamines (known carcinogens). Our meats our 100% nitrate-free. Instead, we use a combination of nitrites and vitamin C, which act together to reduce the formation of nitrosamines while preserving meat.
Q. Why do you use nitrite in your cured meat?
The CFIA requires that cooked deli meats made of pork and poultry and sold refrigerated include a preservative in order to prevent the formation of botulism. Some manufacturers have begun using celery salt and a bacterial culture to create nitrite inside the formulation and avoid putting the preservative on the ingredient panel. At Rowe Farms, we feel this is potentially misleading to customers and we therefore add nitrite in the minimum amount legally required and declare this on the label.
Q. Do your frozen beef hotdogs contain preservatives?
Our frozen all beef hotdogs contains no fillers, artificial additives or preservatives. They’re sold frozen and are therefore an exception to the CFIA requirement for preservatives in deli meats.

If you have any questions not answered here please email for more information.


Q. Do you have your own abattoirs?
Unfortunately, we are far too small to own and operate our own slaughter processing facilities. However, we use only CFIA approved abattoirs with both a CFIA inspector and a veterinary on site during the process to maximize animal and human health. We select only the best of the best of these facilities and monitor them closely.
Q. How do you ensure your animals do not become contaminated with conventional products?
Our animals are processed first thing in the morning and only on clean tables so there is no cross contamination with other animals. One major advantage to using CFIA facilities are their tracking and control processes that ensure we receive ONLY our animals back from the abattoir.

If you have any questions not answered here please email for more information.