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Cattle management in the Canary

 
Xisca Nicolas
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Posts: 1277
Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
22
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Hi there!
I will not speak about my own place as I am not farming animals, but about what I can see around.
I am concerned because I eat local meat...
(most people buy frozen meat coming from South America....)

For information, here is the situation, at least in La Palma, which is the greenest of the Canary islands.
Goats are the most important livestock resource. Then some sheep and a few places can have cows. A lot of people have pigs.

The ancient people of the island were absolutely living on goats and they did not deforest the place. Then came the Europeans and modern times, and there was a recent period with some over-grazing, and then they reduced the herds. It is said that there are 8000 goats in La Palma.

Goats around here have a paddock with the necessary place for milking. Then they are freed most of the day in different places. But all farmers do buy some granulated food, something with alfalfa coming from abroad.

Summers are dry. So, people go with a car up in the mountain, in the laurisilva, and cut some leafy branches, and take them back to their animals.

There is a local shepard dog, but I do not see them really at work. They only help by frightening some goats so that they keep the right way back home in the evening.

About cows. They live all year long outside, as it is not freezing. They are bred only for meet, so no milking. They are in fields.
But their main food is green banana...
So with chemicals.

PROBLEMS I see:
- Not enough access to food when all is dry, and food is brought to the animals in summer.
- No desert but no fields or savanna! It is all bushy, so I do not see how it can be fenced, even with electricity.
- I have never seen that ALL the vegetation is eaten in a place before moving. Anyway, this is bush and not pasture, so they cannot eat everything, and they choose what they like best. (I have to ask about cows' pasture land)
 
Allan Savory
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Xisca
I have looked at the pictures of your site and you certainly do farm in a difficult situation. I hope you are able to read my other responses to gain a better understanding or holistic management. Having said that let me make some comments.

You seem already committed for many reasons to farming such rough hilly country. And it seems in those hills you are rightly terracing to grow most crops and with those I can think of no better people to help you than you are already working with in permaculture. Re goats, they are probably the best suited to such rough wooded hills – keeping them confined and carting feed is as you know costly in time and labour. If this has to be done then think about using small easily portable corals for them and not keeping them in only one place. In this way the portable corals can be incorporated into crop field improvement as people in India (Tamil Nadu) have done for thousands of years.

If you are able to run them in those hills the only ways I currently know are using very simple single strand electric fencing that is moveable using fixed post but movable wire or tape. Again this should be on the basis of planned moves so that overbrowsing is minimized, which will greatly increase production of all plants and the goats and soil cover.

It is commonly believed goats do not respect electric fencing but they do given training and moved in a manner that reduces nutritional stress as you would do with planned grazing. Long ago we did the initial training with very clever goats by using a small training area and painting the wire around that small areas with molasses. After one lick the goats had a healthy respect for the wire. And from then on the wire in the paddocks was respected unless we put nutritional stress on the goats – which we avoid as with cattle by never having animals graze or browse all the vegetation which will always stress animals and lower their production. Most animals can be trained also to move themselves by simply training them to a whistle in the usual manner – whistle followed always by reward. Within days they know hearing the whistle means go to the gate and move to fresh browse – or come home to a coral getting a small reward. I have known of wild cattle that took four men on horseback a full day to move out of hilly heavily bushed country, receiving four days of training – after which one man on foot could move every single animal in twenty minutes.

Good luck playing around with some of these ideas.
 
Xisca Nicolas
pollinator
Posts: 1277
Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
22
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Allan, I really do appreciate all your answers!
Everything with animals is in knowing the rules in creating and suppressing behaviors!
Noticing that herd's behavior was created by predators keeping them close to each other was just splendid!

Being myself trained in training animals with reinforcement methods, I appreciate that you not only know it but know how it works. Some people use them but mostly without knowing the principles that are underneath.

And more over I agree that in some cases, a well applied punishment is the best way to be safe afterwards.
All is in the way of doing it.
And all beings will choose reward and punishment according to their grade, and sure, an electric shock is worth only when food becomes more important.

Is there a way to calculate how much surface will be needed, let's say, by pair of goats?

The wire problem here will only be the bushes!

I have also planned in the future to plant some drought resistant trees as hedges, that can provide cattle food. Some acacia, calabash trees...
Any idea for the best bush and trees for an edible fence?
I mean for a dry semi aridic mediterranean/sub-tropical climate...
 
Xisca Nicolas
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Posts: 1277
Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
22
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Xisca Nicolas wrote:Is there a way to calculate how much surface will be needed, let's say, by pair of goats?


hehe, I am glad I did not ask "how much" do I need but "how to calculate" ...myself!
I just read that every place is different and thus I am the only one who can decide...

I have also planned in the future to plant some drought resistant trees as hedges, that can provide cattle food. Some acacia, calabash trees...
Any idea for the best bush and trees for an edible fence?
I mean for a dry semi aridic mediterranean/sub-tropical climate...


Allan Savory wrote:Using fedges – I have no experience and only know of our past efforts to use vegetative fences in the form of prickly pear, aloes or sisal. But again simply a matter of seeing if those are in a holistic context – and if so use them.


Ok then, and of course some other people can have a few ideas!
 
Xisca Nicolas
pollinator
Posts: 1277
Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
22
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I could gather information from someone tending goats.
I just asked him:
"Why do you bring food to goats and not bring goats to food?"

And I got a simple answer: "This is a problem since asphalted roads were made."

There are 2 problems there:

1) This is dangerous, because of curves and narrowness.
(you cannot even ride a bicycle safely here)

2) It is not allowed to dirty roads!!
 
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