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Sepp Holzer never buys animal feed

 
paul wheaton
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Well, maybe "never" is less than accurate.  He did mention that he might if it were some kind of emergency.

He uses a paddock shift system for all of his animals (which includes pigs, chickens, cattle and a long list of exotics).  And since there is so much diversity, there is lots of food for all animals in all of the paddocks.

It seems that one of his favorite fodder plants is sunchokes.  It is clear that his favorite animal is the pig, so he plants lots of sunchokes for the pigs.  I asked what would be some of the plants for chickens - he says it's the same stuff the pigs eat.  I then suggested that chickens might have a hard time eating the sunchokes and ....  well ... it sounds like the chickens somehow do eat sunchokes - but it didn't seem clear to me.

I hope to ask more about this.
 
Susan Monroe
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I wonder if he is referring to sunchoke stalks as a forage crop for chickens.  It is said to be higher in protein than alfalfa.  I could see the chickens eating the tops and the pigs foraging for the tubers.

Sue
 
Brenda Groth
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yeah here we refer to them as jerusalem artichokes..

unfortunately for 5 mo out of the year we have 4 to 5 feet of snow..we got 141" this year !! i even buy feed for the wild birds..or they would just starve here..literally..even with all the wild food..141" of snow is a lot of snow
 
Leah Sattler
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Susan Monroe wrote:
I wonder if he is referring to sunchoke stalks as a forage crop for chickens.  It is said to be higher in protein than alfalfa.  I could see the chickens eating the tops and the pigs foraging for the tubers.

Sue


maybe. i'm curious. i don't think it could make up a large portion of their diet could it? I have heard caution to not try and feed things with too high a fiber content as the birds fill up their crops and don't get enough nutrients. of course I'm sure there are lots of bugs and worms to scratch up if it is healty soil.
 
              
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Has Sepp mentioned growing bamboo?
 
Susan Monroe
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I don't think anything should make up a large part of any animal's diet. 

It would be nice to know what is behind this guy Holzer's thinking.  Is it logic, or is it BS?  People have come up with the damnedest ideas, that are later to be found to be nothing but hot air.

Mollison has logic behind his ideas. Holzer?  *IF* I can get hold of his book, it will be interesting to see what he says.  The fact that the Library of Congress has the only public book in the continental U.S. does hint at something.

Sue
 
paul wheaton
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Iowa.lk wrote:
Has Sepp mentioned growing bamboo?


Not yet.
 
paul wheaton
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Susan Monroe wrote:
I don't think anything should make up a large part of any animal's diet. 

It would be nice to know what is behind this guy Holzer's thinking.  Is it logic, or is it BS?  People have come up with the damnedest ideas, that are later to be found to be nothing but hot air.

Mollison has logic behind his ideas. Holzer?  *IF* I can get hold of his book, it will be interesting to see what he says.  The fact that the Library of Congress has the only public book in the continental U.S. does hint at something.



I think his farm is proof that his ideas are sound.

I now own a copy of his book.  Some of his other books are getting translated to English as we speak.

I suspect that nobody in the world offers their animals more plant diversity than Sepp.



 
paul wheaton
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I asked Sepp about what his cattle ate in winter.

"Hay."

"But I thought you never bought feed for your animals"

Well ... it turns out he trades pigs for the hay.  Somebody else later told me that she found out that if it weren't for the trade, he would grow, harvest and feed his own hay.
 
Gwen Lynn
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I don't see a difference between buying hay or trading pigs for it. It's a purchase, anyway you slice it. Money, pigs, shells...whatever the currency.
 
Leah Sattler
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Its easy to say you would grow your own hay, is the hay he buys grown ' permaculture'?  he still gets to say he doesn't buy feed and he has a permaculture farm that is a misleading withholding of information,  if he has to utilize non-permie resources to keep his farm afloat that should be noted.  I hope there isn't a misleading Stretch like ...

"I never give my animals antibiotics......(cause my vet does it for me)"

or

" I never assist in births.....(cause I just let them die)"

or

"I don't have to feed additional minerals/feed....(I just let them suffer the health affects of nutritional imbalances)"



 
Susan Monroe
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I hope Paul has been taking copious notes on all these things Holzer is saying, as to the thinking behind it, and details of the how/when/where of it, too.

Sue
 
paul wheaton
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Let's not get out the torches and pitchforks just yet.

Keep in mind that everything he says has to go through an interpreter.  And all of my questions have to pass through the same interpreter.  And the interpreter might not have as complete a grasp of the subject as Sepp.  Then there is this whole thing about different kinds of german .... 

In the videos, we see Sepp, harvesting his grain with a scythe.  And then making little haystack looking things ....  I would guess that he would do the same with hay.

Sepp did mention some things about how any grain you grow will, in the winter time, get snow on it that will push it to the ground.  There, the chickens and pigs can easily get to it. 

Later, Sepp's son, Josef, told me that when there is a hard freeze, the chickens will not dig too deep for food - and at those times they feed the chickens some things that people have harvested earlier in the year for just such an event.




 
Leah Sattler
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language barriers can makes things difficult. a lot of details often get left out in an attempt to simplify things to stream line the interpretation.
 
                                            
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Pitchforks and torches.

We have one 5yr old Duroc sow, about 450 pounds, and she goes through 40 pounds of green compost a day. Sometimes that is not available and we have done 8-10 pounds grain.  Sepp has 3-4 sows/large pigs?    hmmm.

Pitchforks and torches....ha
 
paul wheaton
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I get the impression that Sepp has six to eight pigs over the winter. 

And when it comes to winter pig feed, it sounds like the sunchoke is king.  But there are heaps and heaps of things that work for pig feed all winter that the pigs harvest themselves.

And it sounds like if you run the chickens in with the pigs, a lot of times pigs will bring up a bunch of sunchokes and eat only 80% of it.  The chickens can then eat the remaining 20%.

 
Susan Monroe
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How well do pigs handle a couple (or more) feet of snow?  I've never seen pigs in snow.

Sue
 
paul wheaton
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They do great!

In fact, the beginning of the first Sepp video has him wading through waist deep snow with his pigs.

 
Lablover McCoy
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paul wheaton wrote:
Let's not get out the torches and pitchforks just yet.

Keep in mind that everything he says has to go through an interpreter.  And all of my questions have to pass through the same interpreter.   And the interpreter might not have as complete a grasp of the subject as Sepp.   Then there is this whole thing about different kinds of german .... 

ookinIn the videos, we see Sepp, harvesting his grain with a scythe.  And then making little hay[b]stack lg things ....  I would guess that he would do the same with hay.
[/b]
Sepp did mention some things about how any grain you grow will, in the winter time, get snow on it that will push it to the ground.  There, the chickens and pigs can easily get to it. 

Later, Sepp's son, Josef, told me that when there is a hard freeze, the chickens will not dig too deep for food - and at those times they feed the chickens some things that people have harvested earlier in the year for just such an event.

I lived in Germany for 3 yrs. Those"haystack things" are the European style of our bales or rolls. Many Amish farmers here in OH still use this method.

As for translation, it is correct that sometimes for expediency words/phrases aren't translated exactly and therefore could be misinterpreted. Sometimes there is no direct translation.

"Honey" wagons for fertilizer a very common in European farms. I was never sure exactly what was in that stuff other than water and pig manure but it definitely elicited groans from our 2 toddler boys!

Lablover



 
paul wheaton
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I'd like to see some how-to pics or vids about making haystacks like that.  Anybody have some links they might like to share?

 
            
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Here is a site about how hay stacks and a few other things are  done in Romania. 

http://www.leafpile.com/TravelLog/Romania/Farming/Farming.htm


 
paul wheaton
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Thanks Kurt!  Good link! 

I've always done it with tractors and balers.  I knew about haystacks, but it always seemed like there were too many things I didn't know.  That link makes it seem very clear and very simple.
 
Ravil Guyflin
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I'm very interested in details on how Sepp overwinters his animals. Summer stuff is pretty clear, but the winter period is not.
Diversity of plants and free ranging certainly can help cattle, pigs and chickens find some food themselves. But I'm pretty sure that you just have to give them alot of hay in case if the weather does not allow them to find food themselves.
Hay is not hard to harvest and store. The daily feeding itself takes up alot of time and effort. Is there any way of dealing with that routine at Sepp's farm? Does he just place the hay stack near the animal shelter and let them eat by themselves?

Does Sepp use the same areas for summer and winter pasturing of animals? Does he differentiate between summer and winter plant mixtures?
Sunchokes are good for winter "pasturing", but I think, that you need lots of naturally wintering root-crops (beets, carrots, potatos, turnips, onions, garlic...) and long keeping stuff like pumpkins. Now it starts to look just like a vegetable garden to me.
Does Sepp just leave part of these crops to be covered with snow and being eaten by his animals in the winter?
In this case cows and chickens just have to rely on pigs to get all that stuff from under the snow.
How deep can pigs digg in the snow? It can be more that 3-5 feet of snow it my region.
 
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