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Armyrick's Land Healing Farm...

ArmyRick

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I do not feed them oats. They eat grass and legumes and a few forbs. Either fresh on pasture or cured in the form of hay. I let the cattle select their feed. I supplement with sun dried kelp, trace mineral salt, dietamocious earth and black earth (for mineral mostly). I have been told my cattle are in excellent health and great condition.

Feeding them annuals such as oats, wheat, grain, corn is NOT a part of my operation.
 

ArmyRick

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One more photo for fun. My gutsy wife took this picture. The bull, having a munch...
 

Colin Parkinson

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Got one cousin raising cattle and the other bison. The cattle spend most of their lives on the range, but he supplements their diet with various feeds at different times of the year, he grows his own oats for that. the Bison are kept in large fenced areas as you will likely not see them again. They require some feed, but no need to assist with calving, unlike the cattle who calve in March in middle of snowstorms and like to hide in the bush.
 

ArmyRick

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Cattle do not require supplemental feed. people do it usually to get them larger faster.

My cows, pure bred Dexters are excellent calvers due to their smaller size and all my calves are born on pasture with no human assistance. Highlands and White Park Cattle are very similar in this manner. Standard industry dairy and beef cows that usually require assistance.

You can time calving anytime of the year you want, expose the bull 10-9 months prior to planned birth time and you will have calves. People typically want March calves because it puts calves on feeding in time for spring grass. But is has drawbacks. march is still too cold for calves and you may be forced to keep calf and cow indoors (never good).

Bison keep more of their natural qualities. They require 70% the feed that a cow of equal size requires. They are less selective and will eat more variety of plants. Bison however are challenging to keep in with electric fencing (or any fencing except concrete and rebar). Bison bulls are far more dangerous than cattle bulls. Most Bison operations I know of cheat and feed them grain and/or corn as well (kind of defeats the purpose of raising "game meat").
 

Colin Parkinson

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I suspect the supplements is also based on the range feed available, in this case the Cariboo http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cariboo

I suspect it varies from year to year depending on how much range grass there is. 
 

ArmyRick

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Do you mean caribou or Cariboo? As far as range vegetation being available and quality, it is up to the farmer to make decisions. if it is going to be a rough year, cull hard and thin out the herd. keep only the strongest and best breeding animals. So in terms of a semi drought or drought year, there should be lots of steaks and burgers available. Why try to sustain animals at huge expense to the farmer?

The quality of the vegetation will improve with proper rotational cycles, ideal stocking density and supplemental minerals. the minerals will pass through the ruminants and back into the soil. Good stocking density and proper rotations will allow for improved soil health. Good soil health will result in better plant quality on ranges, farms, ranches, etc, etc. It is similar to an OODA loop. You must constantly monitor and replan depending on the feedback on the animals performance and the condition of the plants.
 

Navy_Pete

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Thanks ArmyRick,

I find this stuff fascinating.  You mentioned you trained under HMI; do you have any particular recommendations for reading?

Some background; our long term plan is to have a small farm and to be more or less self sufficient.  We have some land in the family and some of the know how already, but would like to manage the entire thing as a whole.  Have been reading some permaculture books and have been having some small scale successes in the urban setting, but don't think I'll have much chance of raising a few hens in Orleans at any point in the near future! (Yes, I live in the nearly dead suburb of the NCR; we stumbled across an old bungalow on our HHT and it just felt like home when we walked in the door).  Have lots of time though; think this is at least 10-15 years down the road once I'm out of the mob.  I think ideally though we'd have a few cows, some chickens, possibly some goats/sheep and some various crops.  I think it might be kind of a hard go normally financially, but if I do at while semi retired with a pension and figure out something to do on the side, should be okay.
 

ArmyRick

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For grass fed cattle operations, there is a book, I will put the name of it and the author on here later when I get home. it is almost a bible.

HMI has a lot good literature on its web site and their workbook is awesome. If you get the chance spend the money and do their training session, it's worth it.

How much livestock experience do you have?
 

Navy_Pete

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I have none; fortunately my wife is an animal husbandry guru and has done cows, chickens, goats and a few other random animals before (assisted with alpacas I think) as well as some time working in a vet clinic.  I'm more of a green thumb and a tinkerer.  I think I'll probably doing the fun stuff like putting up fences, digging ponds, building things, etc.

May be a pipe dream, but also would like to have some bees.  Aside from the benefit to the foodstuffs, seems very zen.

I think for now though it will be confined to converting most of the yard to raised beds for food, some pollinator/butterfly gardens, and a bit of landscaping.  It will give me a chance to play around with the sq foot garden concept and a few other things.

Incidentally, took your advice on the grass and didn't cut it all that often; might have driven the neighbours a bit nuts as it was relatively shaggy looking (at 4" long) but it is now really thick and a nice mix of clover and some other wildflowers as well.  All I did was weed every few days to get rid of the spiky plants but it turned out great.  Also did the same with the food/flower beds.  Aside from the areas with low plants (parsely etc) after the tomatoes etc were established just left the 'weeds' alone and it all turned out great.  Had no issue with erosion despite the frequent rain, and all the plants pretty much flourished. It was pretty much an ideal growing year, so hard to tell if they grew any better, but the fact there was no washout despite the frequent heavy rain was a huge plus.
 

ArmyRick

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Thick dense plant life provides good drainage and a proper water cycling system. Deeper and healthier roots are part of the equation.

The book you want is called "Raising Grass Fed Cattle" by Julius Ruechel and it is a MUST

http://www.amazon.ca/Grass-Fed-Cattle-Produce-Market-Natural/dp/1580176054

WARNING if you plan to keep any cattle at all, you must understand how to safely handle them. Even if your wife has the experience, you need it to. Volunteer at a nearby cattle farm and volunteer to handle and look after calves, steers, bulls and cows. Learn how to move them, understand their instincts, etc. Be calm and patient. Cattle are great creatures but can be real dangerous real fast,
 

Colin Parkinson

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ArmyRick said:
Do you mean caribou or Cariboo? As far as range vegetation being available and quality, it is up to the farmer to make decisions. if it is going to be a rough year, cull hard and thin out the herd. keep only the strongest and best breeding animals. So in terms of a semi drought or drought year, there should be lots of steaks and burgers available. Why try to sustain animals at huge expense to the farmer?

The quality of the vegetation will improve with proper rotational cycles, ideal stocking density and supplemental minerals. the minerals will pass through the ruminants and back into the soil. Good stocking density and proper rotations will allow for improved soil health. Good soil health will result in better plant quality on ranges, farms, ranches, etc, etc. It is similar to an OODA loop. You must constantly monitor and replan depending on the feedback on the animals performance and the condition of the plants.

Cariboo as in the region. The difference I think is he is ranching and you are farming, they may look the same to a city type but are very different operations with different outcomes. Last years Wolves and cougars were a real problem, lost around 22 calves to them.
 

ArmyRick

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Ranching is spefic form of farming or agriculture that raises livestock specifically on land. So while a feedlot can be a type of farm, it can not be a ranch. There are many, many ranchers in the organization I trained under (HMI) and our farm follows a similar pattern to many western ranches BUT scaled down for a smaller pasture.

Modern ranches may or may not use horses, ATVs, electric fencing, even helicopters in some cases.
 

ArmyRick

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Standby. Rant about to begin.

I watched a video about a buffoon name Dr Richard Oppenlander. It was Titled "Is Grass Fed Beef sustainable?".

His arugment and his points were SO far off base, misleading and very little fact (or deliberately putting different facts together to make a "slanted" argument).

I am going to rip apart some of his weakly worded arguments and GO royally to town on him. I will para phrase him.

"Grass fed beef still puts cattle on the land, we have too many cattle"

What a ridicolous notion. Its the amount of cows/sheep/goats whatever livestock. First off, Its not that we have too many cattle, it is in how they are managed, a large difference. North America had a mega-huge amount of Bison roaming the land only 400 years ago. These bison (A bison and cow are 99.9% the same animal, they can breed together) grazed, pooped, urinated, trampled and moved on. The herds were very, very large and in winter time they usually broke down into sub herds. This is similar to the practice that I use (and Joel Salatin, Greg Judy, etc, etc) and it is the base of the practices that Allan Savory reccomends. This practice of eat, poop, move and let the grass recover is the basis of rebuilding top soil. Healthy top soil in turn grows stronger grasses, legumes, forbes, sedges, etc. These stronger and denser grasses nuture the animals that eat it, sequester carbon (and in the case of legumes, nitrogen as well) out of the atmosphere and promote microbial life. Microbial life is ESSENTIAL to all life. Without this invisble ecosystem, we would all be dead really fast (not just people).

Feedlots are a different story. I agree that we should get rid of these within the next 20-30 years. Feedlots accumulate manure in massive dosages and in toxic amounts. The cattle are being forced fed corn and/or grain which in turn causes huge health problems. It turns the rumen acidic, burns out their liver and eats away their digestive system. Ruminants can eat seeds but NOT in concentrated dosages. For example allowing a cow to eat an entire grain plant (Seed head, stalk, leaf) would be a much better option. But that is not the feedlot option.

Comparing grass fed cattle to feed lot cattle is like comparing Race cars to econo cars, their both cars but yet very different.

"Cows put out all this methane"

Sigh. here we go again. Methane this and that. First off swamps are the number one producer of methane in the world. Yet swamps can help an eco system. However swamps are loaded with the microbial life that breakdown methane rapidly. So is grass fed cattle and sheep. Both of these animals are ruminants, the rumen (first stomach) is a giant bacteria tank that ferments and breaks down cellulose matter (Fiborous plant material we can not digest). When cows poop, their is a nice percentage of this gut flora coming with it. Also having grass fed cattle, the manure is spread out on pasture and the methane breakdown is not even noticeable. Do not believe me? Go ahead and try and smell manure on my pastures. You won't unless you stand right beside the cow while they crap. You will only smell it for a few minutes.

BTW, every living animal puts out methane. By that logic, we better slaughter all the elephants, wiildebeast, cape buffalo, kudu, zebra, etc, etc that number in the thousands running across African wildlands. Syurely their methane must be destructive? Oh wait, no its not.

Again, feedlots are a different story with concentrated manure piles in massive quanity. Please learn the difference Dr Oppenlander.

More to follow
 

Privateer

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ArmyRick,

When and how will your beef be available to consumers?  Will it be available in the Vancouver area?
 

ArmyRick

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"Grass Fed beef requires cattle to age even longer so it puts more cattle out there for longer periods"

I was thinking at this point, this clown should pull his bottom lip over his head and swallow. But here we go (Getting out the puppets). Grassfed beef requires longer because the caows grow on a more natural cycle and timeline. With the cow actually being managed properly, it helps the environment even more by living longer before slaughter and allows accumulation of more nutrients. End story on that.

"Eating meat is murder.."

Stop. STOP. PLEASE STOP, I am going to lose it. Eating meat is murder. Then by that logic please round up every single lion, wolf, bear, shark, wolverine, mink, bobcat, dog, house cat, seal, etc, etc and GET RID of them. Or we can let nature take its own path, Dr Oppenlander. There are herbivores, omnivores and carnivores. End story. Without predatory animals, bottom level food chain animals would explode out of population control. Then we would have wild ruminants actually causing over grazing. Predators play a key and vital role in the eco system.

People need to eat meat. We have evolved over the last 2-4 million years to eat meat. This is why our brains are SO large and capable of complex problem solving. Heck, even the chimpanzee (the animal most closely related to man) eats a small fraction of meat in its diet (They will eat birds, reptiles, monkeys yes I said monkeys, rodents). We need Vitamin A and E, as well as a whole host of minerals and other fat soluble vitamins. Only obtained by eating meat. Ideally we should eat muscle tissue, organ tissue, fat, bone marrow, etc. Personally I love Grass Fed bone marrow from my Osso Bucco cuts of my mooos, it is delicous and very nutrient dense.

Yes we need plants (I personally believe that over 50% of our diet should be plant based) such as nuts, berries, vegtables, fruits, herbs, etc.

Eggs from field raised chickens rock too! I will go with the option of bigger brain from my hunter gather ish diet.

"..We are degrading the planetary resources.."

Really? First we shouldn't eat cows because of its murder and now we shouldn't eat them? Get with it. For you vegans out there, all those lovely CROP vegetables you love and need (Soy, potato, grain, corn, cabbage, lettuce, tomatoe, etc, etc). DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW DESTRUCTIVE IT IS ON THE ENVIRONMENT? Mass crop fields are very destructive and allow HUGE amounts of carbon loss to the atmosphere (Enjoy all that tofu). The more vegan you go, the more of that crap you need. Here is a news flash, if you compost and degrade plant matter by itself to re-build top soil, it takes a long, long time. Something to the tune of 100 years for an inch of soil. Ruminants in large numbers can build a half to a full inch each year. Get over your selves.

"Cattle need so much water...."

Oh good god. Not nearly as much as Humans seem to use up. Get with it. My herd of cows (11 at this time), in cooler weather go through about 20 gallons a day. In the hot, hot summer around 40-50 gallons a day, unless I provided shade, then it was around 30 gallons a day. Considering my cows weigh around 800 lbs each and the bull weighs around 1200 lbs, not bad. What does your average person use in cooking, cleaning themselves, their car, their dishes, laundry, flushing toilet, etc, etc.

How about an elephant? I will bet you they use huge amounts of water? Do we get rid of them? Wake up.

Another fact loss on this dorkish crowd. Well conditioned pastures and fields can hold and retain water efficiently. So cows urinating on the ground in well plant covered areas, help water (and add nitrogen) to the soil, where it stays locked up longer.

In a garbage crop field, all that exposed soil, allows huge amounts of water evaporation (and carbon loss). On that note, crop fields (irragation) uses way more water than cattle on pasture.

Extremely weak argument, Dr Oppenlander.

That is the start of this ridicolous verbal beat down. Why does this bother me? Mostly because this guy states that he still has more people to get his message out to. Sorry buddy, I will stand in your way, Dr Oppenlander.
 

ArmyRick

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Privateer,

go to this web site, and look up a local grass fed beef farmer

http://www.eatwild.com/

I am TOO far away to help you my friend. But grass fed Moo and bah (lamb) is delicous!

For BC try http://www.eatwild.com/products/canada.html#BC
 

ArmyRick

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Today I wanted to throw a tid bit out there about some soil enhancements you can use whether you have a tenth of an acre or two hundred acres.

Biochar. I only recently learned about this from Robert Kinkead. It's an amazing substance I guess you can call it. it is organic matter reduced to a char form using pyrolisis. It has also been called carbon char or terra pratta. Your basically making char by burning something without oxygen, you can do slow or fast. The end product ends up being an amazing substance that can sequester carbon and retain water in your soil. Your gardens and lawns will thank you for it. If you have livestock, your grass will grow very well.

For those of us who have our own cattle or sheep, use raw milk on your gardens, lawns or pastures during the growing season. The microbial life will give the soil and the plants growing in it a major boost.

Don't have ruminants? Try using molasses and fish grounded up. Also you can use compost tea if you have the time and no what you are doing.

An experiment we are trying on our lawn is to cover it completely with old and rotting hay this winter. I want to see what kind of boost our lawn gets by April or May. I have run a calf there before when she was living in the house (long story). However I have no intentions of getting my herd off the pasture and into my backyard. Basically this hay covering idea is a biomass covering.

Need to give your composer a boost? Visit your local farmer and get some buckets of cow, goat or sheep manure. Toss in some poultry manure as well if you can but in very small doses. The microbial life in ruminant poop will give your stalled out composer a big kick. Wait until early spring though.
 

ArmyRick

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Heads up and a bit of a "leak".

Anybody here is a Joel Salatin (polyface Farms) and Greg Judy (Green Pastures farm) fan, we have BOTH coming up here to Guelph, Ontario and speak about practical and sustainable farming practices on 17-18 October 2014.

I am one of the board members of Practical farmers of Ontario. If your interested in knowing more, check out the web site

http://www.practicalfarmersontario.ca/

If your interested in attending the event, please do contact myself and I will keep you posted on details.
 

ArmyRick

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For those that are a big fan of Joel Salatin of Polyface farms, he will be presenting on the 18 Oct 2014 (Saturday) and Greg Judy (more aimed at Grazers) will be presenting friday 17 oct 2014. Jack Kyle from OMAFRA and Ontario Forage Council will present as well on Friday (Ontario specific grazing concerns).

We are anticipating several hundred seats available and we will decide the ticket prices before April. HOWEVER, the reservation list is already up past 80 and we have not even laid out ticket prices. The last time Joel Salatin came to Ontario, the event sold all the seats 3 weeks before he arrived. If interested, let me know and I will give you a ball park figure of what cost could be (worse case to best case), you can decide if you want to reserve ticket spaces.

This is aimed at all farmers, big to small, young and old, rookie and experienced. Its aimed at sustainable, environmentally regenerative and profitable farming. We even have people like chefs and small store owners signed up.
 
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