Livestock & Restoration Agriculture - Coggle Diagram
Livestock & Restoration Agriculture
Types of niche
A position or role taken by an organism within its ecological community
In the oak savanna model, each woody plant species occupies a specific niche in the spatial structure of the system; all species require the support of others
Locations in time within a single season. It helps understand succession in a bioregion. Some niches in time are thousands of years old in the making.
incorporate beings that move into the calculus of both time and space (more challenging because we don't get to see the animal polycultures all at once in the same place at the same time.)
for example, fewer people have experiences or are unfamiliar with animal polycultures.
Animal polycultures constantly change in both place and in time.
animals, left to themselves, will move to the place where they find the most or highest quality of whatever it is that they can eat at the time. Animals move to where the living is best
people only see the animals that are occupying a single niche at any point in time
what resources (food, water, shelter, reproduction sites, etc.) are available in a particular location
what resources are there during a particular time of the day or season
a successional phase whether it be bare black dirt, grassland, scrubland or early or late successional forest
they take in consideration niches in space and schedules in time
time considerations take into account
changes in the plant systems during a single season
changes in the system through the years
process of creating a viable ecological system based on natural patterns and relationships, that is perennial, and that produces staple foods, fuels, medicines and fibers for human beings while providing an increasing number of available niches for animals both wild and domestic.
this definition makes me think of several permaculture principles such as
replicate natural patterns
each element performs different functions
help with weed control and pest control
provide human beings with food, clothing and other materials
fertilization services (manure, preparing the soil, etc.)
obtain a yield
use and value diversity (here we are talking more about animal polycultures)
it is all about dynamic stability and ecological change through time
perennialism is restored
On a personal note, the organic soybeans statistics are quite shocking to me. Not funny to hear some arguments from vegans about their will to save animals, and yet, their diet destroys the animals' habitats and forces animals to get exterminated in order to grow their soy and all the other soy-based foods. (FYI, I love tofu, it is just sad to see that this "no-meat" movement actually impacts negatively animals that we are supposed to be saving in the first place.)
a solution would be for the vegans that want to create new animal habitats, they could substitute annual crops (corn, soybeans) to perennial staple foods
multitude of ecological niches are created which animals can and do colonize
restoration agriculture plantings of edible woody species provide perches for diversity of wild birds (many of whom came to the system with their intestines preloaded with undesirable seeds)
Things to take in consideration when wanting to incorporate animals into a restoration agriculture system
a goal being the establishment of a polyculture of animal species that provide weed control
certain degree of pest control for the woody cropping system
The KEY is a carefully designed grazing system for a healthy pasture
Lead-follower grazing system
where 1 animal type is let into a paddock first. It has eaten its preferred foods in the 1st paddock, it is rotated to the next paddock and the next type of animal is turned in where the first just recently vacated.
they out-produce other grazing systems for total. Each animal is allowed to eat its optimal foods first animal weight gain
pastures are allowed ample recovery time before the original grazing animal returns to the initial paddock
intentional combining of both livestock production and woody plants
intensively managing an open-canopy tree and forage system (not letting the animals loose in the woods to graze)
Forage/pasture health => Animal health => Human health
Stocking Rates for a good restoration agriculture pasture system
If not done right
not enough feed for the animals
their health and nutrition suffer
land degradation and desertification
no longer any roots penetration to drill channels for water to percolate down into or to add fibrous carbon to the soil
degrades pastures by removing more living plant matter than can regenerate before the next round of grazing happens
Animals only eat their favorite forage when there is too much pasture to eat from. Due to poor management pasture practices, the less palatable forage stays behind, gets stronger, sets seed and soon enough, they invade the entire pasture, leaving no space for the favorite forage.
degrade pastures when not followed up by finish mowing or grazing with other animals in order to prevent undesirable plants from proliferating and setting seed
sheep are good to eat undesirable vegetation "finish mowers".
In a leader-follower system
Cattle - The Starters
They take the first bite at the top of the most nutritious pasture and move on to the "next first bite" until all preferred pasture has been bitten. And they continue after to less nutritious forage.
A- start with young calves for the highest nutrient demand. Before their second bite stage, move them to the second pasture
B- bring the lactating cows in the first pasture. Heavier milk producers cows first and lighter milk producers after
C- Dry cows after.
Hogs - The Plowers
They eat pretty much everything. The ultimate clean-up tool. They plow the ground and eat plants and roots until there are none left.
Useful to the farmers when they want to disturb the soil in order to plant a new crop
Hogs can really diminish forage health by rooting it all up (the forage wouldn't achieve optimal productivity and optimum health)
Author recommends nose-rings so they don't root, they just graze
but, we learned in class that it is more of a moral issue and animal wellfare. It would be going against their own nature (DNA), pigs love to root, let them root, just place them in areas that are suitable for rooting :smiley:
We also learned that they aren't really meant for pastures, they enjoy more the wooden areas. Pigs can't sweat. They prefer shaddy areas.
Rule of thumb: fewer or maximum 2 mature pigs per adult cow
Turkeys - Pest controllers and Mineral spreaders
They nibble grass and forbs, but they prefer to eat big seeds and insects. They scratch around the debris to find their food.
they introduce mineral amendments to the pasture in a lost-cost manner. Coarser-grit minerals are brought to the paddocks with the turkeys. The birds will ingest the minerals as they graze and will get defecated onto the very pasture that needs that very mineral
low maintenance. Only 1 flock needed for the summer grazing season
2 turkeys per hog is adequate
Sheep - Weed controllers
Eat the first plants that rebound after the grazing pressure, which are the ones that are least preferred by the cattles and hogs. Mostly plants that have large and fleshy roots with lots of stored energy. Over time, these weeds will become less and less prevalent in the pasture
Ideally, portable chicken pens and mobile chicken coop. Challenging to let them free in the pasture
they scratch the remaining manure from all their leaders searching for insects and seeds. There will be little animal mess
Graze broad-leaved plants. Good turkey followers.
Fencing is the same as the pig and turkey one
Practical for their natural "alarm services"
Higher value income stream
produce high-quality meat and dairy products on the coarsest, most degraded forage. Eat almost anything
Gain weight well, produce surplus milk, cream and 1 or 2 kids per year
excellent to manage the succession of a site by browsing economically undesirable plants
However, they can eat small trees, jump fences (build it higher). Goats not for beginners farmers starting restoration agriculture (as the author seems to insinuate)
If a pasture is not of high quality, do not use goats as it could lead to desertification
PS: obviously, the author is not a fan of goats!! :smiley:
Other potential problems
Need to be moveable for at least 2 paddocks
Additional strands of low or higher fences wire for other animals like pigs, sheep, goats
more fence posts and fencing for contouring the water capture
Additional handling facilities for loading animals for sale on trailers (can be unnecessary if you are in friendly terms with your animals and the animals are trained to load in a trailer at a young age)
additional housing for carryover stock
Supplement feeding of minerals and trace elements should be monitored. Some species (cattles and hogs) need it, but others, like sheep can be toxic.
soil testing and forage testing are prudent
Ways to limit parasites
understand what the parasite potentials are
understand the parasite life cycles
not combine livestock with similar parasites in the same or even the following paddock. Always have a species break between one host species and the next susceptible species
maintaining a diverse pasture mix and especially mix that includes perennial plant species that are known to be parasiticides (ex. wormwood, garlic, fennel, etc.)
ways to limit diseases
avoid direct transfers (ex.: sheep should not be grazed in a system that includes elk, deer or bison)
Avoid mouth and nose contact in the feces
Cattle must be separate from pigs
pigs must be separate from fowl
fowl must be separate from sheep
Give them good care
Clean water available all the time (tanks and troughs should be emptied and purged between species)
pastures should not be grazed until the soil is exposed. Healthy pasture must have long periods of recovery between grazing
Separate quarter for the animals are a good idea to help prevent transmission of cross-species health problems
Advantages of having a multiple livestock species doing a rotational lead-follower grazing system
balance the forage plant communities and lead pastures to:
recover more quickly from grazing
develop deeper root systems allowing then to recover deeply leached nutrients
tolerate weather extremes (ex.: excessive oil moisture or prolonged drought)
utilize the pasture resources more uniformly
utilize the pasture more effectively (ex.: sheep eat unpalatable and toxic plants for cattles)
ensures that somebody in the system somewhere likes that plant for food
this grazing system makes me think of the permaculture principles
produce no waste
creatively use & respond to change
total livestock production production is higher
increase in site fertility and total productivity
different food sources used by the different animals
the total pounds of livestock weight per acre will be greater even if you have less animals
diversifying the species can even out market fluctuations
When I read the article, all I thought was:
Wow, the dream to have a big land to do that rotating pasture grazing system!
Wow, the dream to have that many animals!
Oh boy! it must still be a lot of work, manpower
these whole livestock lectures we got in class really opened my eyes to a world I didn't know at all
For me, livestock would be in the last phase of my project, once I feel that I will be in control of my land and that I can manage or delegate some responsibilities in order to free time to take care of the animals in the most loving and caring ways