If you’re like many others who are becoming more mindful of the fact that organic food products are much better for you and the environment, then you might go as far as having your own livestock.
Whether you have a lilliputian back yard or a large fertile field, it can be done with a bit of expertise using organic methods.
Raising livestock can bring your family together, encouraging confidence and responsibility. Children always need opportunities to prove their skills — not just for their parents and peers, but to themselves. Raising animals gives kids a chance to interact with another living being, care for it and nurture its growth.
The daily chores to properly care for animals, encourages discipline and compassion. Having responsibility for another being gives a respect for the cycles of life. An understanding of where our food comes. Perhaps it can prepare them for parenting or even managing a business?
Heritage Chickens: Poultry in Motion
Many people are raising chickens today largely because of COVID. The heritage breeds are all the rave because they are pretty and lay eggs in a rainbow of colors.
A Heritage Chicken is hatched from a heritage egg sired by an American Poultry Association Standard breed established prior to the mid-20th century. They are slow-growing and naturally mated with a long productive outdoor life.
I am a new chicken owner myself and have had to work extra hard to treat ailments with organic solutions in addition to feeding them with organic feed, scraps, and supplements from the veggie and herb garden. I’ve seen the organic feed option fly off the shelves at my local feedstore, which is kind of crazy here—and perhaps everywhere.
Their eggs are tasty and fresh, and their meat is delicious.
Drive a Steak in the Ground and Consider Raising Cows
If you have the room to pasture a cow or an entire herd, there is much to consider. Organic beef can be raised on a diet of corn or grain, but they must have access to a pasture, so at least some of their nutrition comes from grass or pasture.
One way you might make sure that your animals get enough to eat is by adding a little extra mass to their meals aside from the hay or grains they’re eating primarily. However, these shortcuts aren’t just empty mass for them to chew on; they can actually do some harm and create a gaseous fermentation – naughty!
One of the most common shortcuts that all livestock owners should try to get out of the habit of is feeding them grass clippings. Growing and grazing for the natural food is the easiest way to ensure their local healthy diet.
If you have extra land, grow your own alfalfa and hay – perfect for Regenerative Grazing! However, if you’re growing your own hay, it’s important to make sure that you’re following all the correct processes while baling hay and storing it. Keeping it somewhere dry and relatively sealed from the environment is key when it comes to preventing the spread of moisture, which can lead to rot.
Water is essential – on hot days, cattle need to drink even more, sometimes as much as a gallon per 100 pounds of body mass. Talk about bloat!
Keeping a water tank connected to a trough is an easy way to make sure they have access to drinking water, but you also must put in the effort of keeping it clean from algae growth.
Growing Organic Livestock is Humane and Environmentally Friendly
Raising organic animals uses less feed, fuel, and water than intensive farming, reducing costs and pollution. By growing crops and livestock, you can reduce environmental damage—recycling nutrients and improving the soil.
A recent article from the Organic Center highlights a study on dairy cows under organic management; it showed high animal welfare status.
The cows have more comfort around resting, which was influenced by the amount of time on pasture and more litter in the bedding area.
This study concurred with other studies that more time on pasture means more time comfortably resting as cows prefer to rest in a pasture versus housing. They had fewer injuries, disease and less pain -. Greater access to pasture was the key.
Learn More about Raising Organic Livestock
The Rodale Institute is a great place to begin. Their guide highlights how organic livestock are managed differently than conventional livestock. The emphasis is on pasture and restrictions on antibiotics and hormones. Organic livestock benefits people and the environment.
If you’re up for rolling up your sleeves and really understanding where your food comes from, raising a few chickens, cows, goats, or even crickets may be for you.
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