Forums Community Forum Animal systems

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    Steve Rush

    I was trying to ask on your blog comments but the recaptcha is broken.

    What plants do you grow to feed your livestock? If there is one topic that is notably incomplete from permaculture it is information regarding animals.

    Very little information is given on edible plants, less is given on palatability/toxicity and nothing seems to be know about free range systems. Ironically the least diverse section in permaculture is animals and largely they are confined and fed by labour intensive cut and carry.

    Tom Kendall

    Hi Steve, A big topic.
    We rotationally graze our cows in a flexible variation of Holistic Management with daily moves. They get a daily breakfast of a small portion of copra, which helps to give them a small amount of minerals.
    The goats have 6 cells they rotate through with 8 days access giving 40 days rest. They only get three hours of grazing per day at this stage and then we give them a copra/meusli/garlic/kelp/“stocksaver” breakfast followed by a cut and carry forage that changes each day. In time hopefully a “silvo pasture” forage/grazing hopefully will be established to lessen the cut and carry.
    The chickens we do a cut and carry clucker tucker and garden cleanup waste. We still purchase grains unfortunately however are endeavouring lessen this external input.
    As our biomass growing capacity increases more animals are hoped to be included.
    Maybe pigs, turkeys, ducks geese etc.
    A valid question you have broached.
    Self sufficient animal systems needing minimal external inputs and low labour needs.

    Steve Rush

    Thanks for replying. I think this area merits more exploration. Before modern pasture agriculture Europe had a history of coppice/pollard forest agriculture as sources of winter feed in place of hay. Much like our own foods many contain alkaloids/toxins as well as variable minerals so a balanced diverse feed is required. Acacia sp., moringa, tagasaste, leucaena, honey locust, ash, alders, silky oak, kurrajong, pidgeon pea, cowpea, carob, causarina, willow, poplar, Rowan’s. Some of these may become rampant ‘weeds’, so grow them inside animal pastures/enclosures and use browse pressure to keep them manageable. Many also fix nitrogen, provide shade/shelter for stock amongst other benefits.

    John Seymour’s complete book of self sufficiency details some old field fodder crops and silviculture/agroforestry are decent resources for animal friendly plantings.

    What are the plants in the various animals cut and carry feeds?
    Do you sow any grasses or herbs into your pastures?
    Do you grow supplementary feed for overwintering? (assuming you get more dry then relative cold)

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