Small farm owners may find it difficult to feed their animals in sustainable way. Various  environmental, economic, ethical, social and quality hurdles come in the way.  The desire to maximize your profits while keeping your animals in optimal health is certainly a difficult target to achieve.

If you are a livestock farmer, you are probably in the business because you love livestock farming, and believe that there is a demand for sustainable livestock products in the market. You are in the business because it’s economically viable, and environmentally sustainable. But you also want to make sure that you have enough options to use alternative resources, and you can maximize your profit by applying the principles of sustainability into your livestock farming enterprise.

What is sustainable livestock farming?

Sustainable animal farming means selecting animals appropriate for the region, farm size, and location allowing you to provide ample foraging resources to the animals, and maximize profit. Sustainable agriculture also means keeping an eye on animal welfare, optimizing animal health, all while minimizing production costs. This could mean giving them high quality natural food that enhances their health naturally so that they are less vulnerable to diseases.

7 Reasons why you might become a livestock farmer

large_14431936802There are many reasons why a farmer might enter the livestock farming industry. The obvious reason is to produce food. Some are are born in an environment where farming comes natural to them. For example, if your parents or a close relative was a farmer, you could easily pick up or take over farming from them. Nevertheless, there are several reasons for entering the livestock industry. Many farmers that start small may find enough resources and motivation to start selling their products for profit, be it to the local neighborhood, or in a farmers’ market.

  • You love animals and want to raise them in sustainable methods.
  • You want to produce fresh, high quality source of protein for yourself.
  • You want to produce healthy, wholesome protein for your community.
  • You want to buy or sell animals and raise them for profit.
  • You want to integrate livestock farming to your existing agricultural system, and benefit your plants.
  • You want to breed endangered or exotic animals.
  • You want to earn from your farm land and supplement your income.

Why is sustainable livestock farming important?

If you are a sustainable livestock farmer, you want to reduce global impacts from your enterprise while maximizing profits. Sustainable livestock farming includes using organic methods, without any toxic chemicals, and raising livestock with organic feed.

calf-829430_1280Introducing synthetic feed, unnatural living conditions and chemical herbicides and pesticides, GMOs, and antibiotics could damage the natural equilibrium of animals, and may not be sustainable for human health. Your farm products could be for your personal consumption, for your friends and family, or it may be for commercial use, and you don’t want all the toxic elements introduced to the food chain.

Animals, as well as humans benefit the most when they consume food grown in sustainable manner, with all organic elements. A growing number of researches show that pasture-raised meat, eggs, and dairy products are better than feedlot raised animals. They are healthier for consumers than conventionally-raised, grain-fed foods. Pasture raised livestock also has higher levels of vitamins, and a healthier balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fats, lower amount of calories and total fat.

“Truly sustainable livestock farming requires the use of a pasture-based system. Pasture-raised animals roam freely in their natural environment where they’re able to eat nutritious grasses and other plants that their bodies are adapted to digest.” – Sustainable Table | Sustainable Livestock Husbandry

Environmental benefits

Pasture raised animals help the soil retain its natural nutrients. When animals graze on them, their manure recycles the nutrients back into the soil, thus reducing the need for adding synthetic fertilizers. They also reduce the need for growing grain based food such as animal feed. Organic farms also don’t rely on heavy fossil fuels to run their industry.

Sustainable Livestock Nutrition Program

cows-419407_1280When it comes to producing sustainable livestock feed, we’ve had great success with our aquaponic systems. We started experimenting with our aquaponic systems when hay prices started to rise exponentially in 2011.  We became excited about producing aquaponically grown micro-greens from grasses like barley, wheat or oats, and started developing a feeding plan for our alpacas.  We operated a small scale research system producing about 50-75 lb. per day in early December, 2011 and began to feed 12 of our young alpaca males.

Within a month we had reduced their hay ration by 2/3 and were feeding them between 4-5 lb./day per animal of our barley or wheat micro-greens, and began to gradually decrease both the quantity of their hay and its quality.

Growing your own microgreens allows you to grow high quality, highly digestible grasses, which increase livestock feeding efficiency, reduce feed costs, and also allow you to supplement pasture grasses during feed shortages or droughts.

Click here to get DIY plans for proven livestock feeding systems. Or contact us at 303-495-3705 . Click here to book a meeting with us.  You can also get your Feed in A Box Microgreens (fodder) from us to see how great the microgreen grasses are!!

Have questions or comment? Please add them in the comment box below or visit our Facebook Page. We’d really appreciate it.

Source: Sustainable Livestock Nutrition

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