raising livestock ecologically

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by qwer123, Feb 19, 2008.

  1. qwer123

    qwer123 Guest

    Conventional livestock raising methods have been incredibly environmentally destructive with soil erosion, deforestation, large portions of agriculture dedicated to growing feed, extermination of billions of predators to protect free ranging livestock, infiltration of non-native plant species and on and on. These costs to our environment and health are irrelevant because private industries don't pay them. We do with our destroyed health and environment. Isn’t there a better way to raise livestock than continuously warring with nature? Cattle grazing alone has caused more environmental destruction than lumbering and mining combined. If it is necessary to exterminate millions of predators to protect livestock maybe livestock shouldn’t be allowed to roam around. Should millions of acres of the country be fenced off to the rest of us only to be ruined by ranching? Grazing animals coexisted with predators just fine before the white man decided to disrupt everything for profit. What is the permaculture method of raising livestock ecologically? Also, I know that permaculture methods are effective at growing food for families or small communities, but how is permaculture used to raise enough food to feed millions of people. How can permaculture replace large scale farming? I live in the USA. Somebody always asks where I live. Thank you.
     
  2. Luisa

    Luisa Junior Member

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    I don't know if I can answer you. Predators and prey exist in a dynamic balance because some prey go to feed the predators on a regular basis. Humans want to harvest the prey for their own use hence are competing with other predators. So for profits and to feed numerous humans, the predators have to go. If you free range your stock you will lose some to predators and this will decrease your profits.

    Alternatives? Feedlots. Ugh. But you can minimise losses to predators by keeping the prey confined and watched. Fencing ranged stock is expensive and doesn't stop the predators. That's why predator extermination is the approach used.

    Permaculture is a systems design approach. I still think confining and watching your stock is the least-harm approach but the free range proponents probably disagree.

    I suspect to feed millions you need to have millions of small scale farms scattered among the millions of humans.

    I think PC principles applied within microfarms, community farms, traditional small-holdings, etc. is the best way to go.
     
  3. ho-hum

    ho-hum New Member

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    Hello qwer and welcome to the forum.

    A couple of things - you have correctly identified that current grazing practises are environmentally damaging and you struggle to see how permaculture could be an answer.

    Doing a Permaculture Design Course would answer this type of question. Firstly, permaculture for the most part is not an economic activity, large scale farming is. It is an activity designed to produce money.

    Permaculture is pragmatic enough to deal with economic realities and as such could show a large scale grazier many strategies to improve the sustainability of his operation and his asset - the land.

    As for 'feeding millions' Permaculture probably already does. All large scale farming is built on the basis that oil will be forever both readily available and cheap. No point in raising 50,000lbs of beef on your ranch in Wyoming if your market is Tokyo and no one can afford the transport.

    Just on an aussie perspective already on large properties in Australia all sorts of previously labelled enemies have been reassessed and managed as assets and all it took was observation and a desire for sustainability. I am talking about scrub, wild goats, camels, trees. If you single these things out they might be a 'problem' but if you are viewing things holistically you might find a profitable niche they can be included into.

    Stay with us qwer and flip through the site and the archives you will see there is a lot more to permaculture than either food or money..... :D

    I hope others add to this thread.

    cheers,
     
  4. barely run

    barely run Junior Member

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    There is a thriving orgainic stock indusrty in Aust. Many use bio-dynamics and rotational grazing is a keystone. The use of native grasses has proven it's worth with the current drought, with native grass paddocks doing so much better than "improved" pasture. I'm a permie from way back but there are several other compatable ways of farming and stock management.
    Cathy
     
  5. mossbackfarm

    mossbackfarm Junior Member

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    There are some landscapes where growing grass for grazing is more efficient than tilling it up and growing conventional food crops like grains, potatoes, etc. These are often erosion-prone areas, where tillage would be a greater sin than grazing.

    Of course, that doesn't let the cattle off the hook...land has to be treated carefully for it to continue to produce anything. We practice rotational grazing, have a sacrifice area where animals are fed hay for the winter to protect the health of the rest of the pasture, and keep our animals out of the waterways in the wet season.

    Predator control is always a concern, but livestock guardian dogs, strategic timing of birthing, and good fences are all items in the toolbox. I guess the rifle is, too, but permaculture teaches us to leverage the cause, not the symptom.

    Rich
     
  6. barely run

    barely run Junior Member

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    Alpaca's are used here with excellent results for lambing and even some people run them with big free range chicken farms.
    We dont have the land now for animals so am back to permaculture gardens
    Cheers
    Cathy
     
  7. marley339

    marley339 Junior Member

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    There is starting to be a native bison (buffalo) raising industry in many parts of the U.S. where these animals are adapted to the environment.

    The bison work well with the native plants in the prairies, and they need very little care. They can pretty much take care of themselves when given enough of the right kind of space, and they rotate themselves.

    This type of livestock raising is the most ecologically-sound way of converting solar energy into food for humans in many parts of the world.

    As mossbackfarm mentioned, this way of producing food is less destructive in these environments than trying grow plant crops that we can eat. (this is one of the ways that meat production and consumption can make sense).
     
  8. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    Location:
    inland Otago, NZ
    Climate:
    Inland maritime/hot/dry/frosty
    I don't see 'livestock' as inherently destructive, although certainly modern farming usually is.

    If we look at things like meat and dairy consumption, then we see some options. In Cuba since their 'peak oil' they eat alot of rabbits and chickens. These are animals that are easy to incorporate into permie systems.

    Neighbourhoods could have house cows or goats. That would hugely reduce the need for dairy farms.

    Many of us live in countries that have introduced animal species that would be being harvested for food - rabbits, possums, deer in NZ. That, and eating less meat in general, would greatly reduce the need for conventional farming of meat.


    Which leaves us with farming large meat animals. Polyface Farm is one example of how to do that in an ethical and ecologically sensible way:

    https://www.polyfacefarms.com/
     
  9. marley339

    marley339 Junior Member

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    Thanks for posting the link to polyface farm!

    I just read about polyface in Michael Pollan's book "The Omnivore's Dilemma." The way Pollan describes it, it is the perfect example of ecological ways of raising meat and animal products.

    I love the "pigaerator" system that he uses!! I can just imagine the pigs digging around looking for the fermented corn!
     

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