ok my previous permies posts have been about my own permaculture market garden. now i need to ask about a non-permaculture project where i live, to find out how permie i can help to make it...
i have just moved onto a small farm which my friend has bought. she is not into permaculture but is humouring me to find out the most holistic ways to keep animals here. she wants to take in as many rescued critters as can fit onto 3 acres. obviously i am keen to prevent us from having to do unnecessary work, buy in unnecessary feed, and pay unnecessary vets bills and put unnecessary chemicals onto the land.
can anyone advise techniques for maximing the productivity for keeping animals that will not be eaten(!)? my friend is up for eggs, milk and a working horse or donkey.
she would like to have (all rescued - ) chickens, a couple of pigs, 2-3 goats, rabbits and guinea pigs, one cob pony and one shetland-size pony and/or a couple of donkeys.
i am thinking that the ponies are where it's not going to work. i know that they rip up the land they'd need 2/3 of our land just for them! however she doesn't believe me as the people who lived here before us kept 2 horses, some pigs and chickens. i just think they didn't keep them for many years, and must have bought an awful lot of feed. i would also love to find a way to make it work to keep a cob pony - because it would be so useful for my market garden. the rescued shetland is intended as its companion!
we are starting off with well-kept pasture.
any ideas about clever ways to use rotation or any other tricks very welcome.
I have a similar sized portion of land and yes keeping horses in our climate which is cool and usually wet in coastal British Columbia , Canada is highly dependant on inputs from off the property. I am downsizing my own horses and still do not entertain the idea I will reach a balance having horses on this land . I would suggest she go very slowly putting in place one element at a time as it is priority to her after much thought, then as a few consecutive years go by she will better get a feel for what the right balance is .
I have been in the process of planting my vision of a food forest and shelterbelts with small glens of grass , planting more browse also in the form of shrubs and leaves that will be grazable. These glens are somewhat connected with avenues of passage ( thought given to optimizing light, view, shelter, fodder , privacy and rotation of stock ) . It is a long slow endeavour for me and being such a small acreage makes it a little less forgivable when you miscalculate , thus I think slow and not stressing the land with overstocking would be my advice .
How is it going? Have you read "Pasture Perfect?" It's about a natural way to maintain healthy barefoot hooves on horses/ponies, etc. You fence the whole pasture, with rounded corners, and then put another fence about 5' inside of the outer one, use the area inside that for grazing, dividing it into paddocks that all open out to the 5' wide track, so you can close off all but one of the paddocks and rotate them that way. During the day, at random times and in random places, leave treats on the track for the horse to find. They've found that the horses will spend a great deal of time circling the track, often at a run, to see if there are any treats yet. It approximates the natural amount of walking/running wild horses would do in a day to maintain healthy digestion, overal fitness, and healthy hooves, which get worn down naturally tho adding some pea gravel to a portion of the trail would wear them even more.