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Question: Dietary preferences of different animals in a pasture

 
Sheldon Nicholson
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Hi everyone,

I was wondering if anyone could give me a very general overview of the different dietary preferences of the common farm animals when in a well managed roational pasture grazing system? This is not specifically for any one climate or farm, just in general. For example: I just watched a video of Greg Judy and he made a remark about sheep and cows eating different things which is why they can be run on the same pasture without overgrazing. Having a knowledge of what various animals generally eat would obviously allow me to come up with more resilient and productive pasture plans, as he has.

Specifically I am looking for info on these animals:
Cow
Pig
Sheep
Goat
Chicken
Duck
Geese

And for each of these animals i want to know what they eat (ex: woody plants, grass, grains, fruit, roots, bugs, etc) and any additional info about general functions in pasture would be appreciated as well ("bulldozing" to create litter, tilling, eating bugs off other animals, etc)

Thank you very much, in advance!

Im very new to animals, but pasture raised animals are where my passion really lies in permaculture. I have a tentative plan to lease a small amount of land in 2015 and start Intensively Managing some livestock.
 
Cj Sloane
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Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
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Cows can eat 30,000 plants worldwide.

Much will hinge on what will grow on your land. After several years of failing to establish pasture, I'm falling back on what grows naturally on my land - trees. I will be pollarding several varieties on my property like; black locust, Ash, Elm, Alder, Hornbeam, Birch, Beech, Striped Maple, and Staghorn Sumac.I will also be planting more trees specifically suited to pollarding like hybrid Poplars & Willows, Mulberry, & Black Locust. When the cows have stripped the leaves and small branches I'll be inoculated the logs with mushroom spawn.

My advice is to read tons of info. Read Intro to Permaculture. See if you can shadow someone in your area doing MIG. Don't try more than one new animal/year.
 
Sheldon Nicholson
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Thank you CJ,

So can cows live off of a diet of trees as healthilly as if it were grass? Just curious

I guess I kinda realized that all of these animals WILL/CAN eat thousands of different things.... but what i guess Im wondering is what foods do they prefer? When they are only in a pasture for a short amount of time what do they typically eat first, and Im sure this can vary so maybe saying something like :80% of the time my cows eat mainly tall grasses, and 20% of the time they browse on low shrubs and trees, as an example of what Im looking for.

but still, Thanks for the advice! I have been reading tons but I definately agree that I need to get some real world experience with someone doing MIG. My dream is to intern with Walter Jeffries for a year, but well see what happens.

 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
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Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
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Sheldon Nicholson wrote:
So can cows live off of a diet of trees as healthilly as if it were grass?


Yes, but some trees are better than others. You can't give them wilted cherry leaves or most maples.

I've found they prefer what's "new." I think that's why it's pretty easy to move them because they are ready to move to new areas.
Check out the video in this thread.

Bill Mollison:
"Cattle have a place. Cattle are forest animals. They are not pasture animals. You have to chase them out on to pastures. Really, cattle belong in cool forest swamplands. They love it. In summer, they spend all their time up to their bellies out in swamps, eating the swamp grasses. In winter they will come back into the forest edges.
That is where we got them from. That was their habit--the white ox of the forests of northern Europe. We are talking here of beef cattle. Dairy cattle are much more highly evolved than most beef cattle."

There is truth in that because during every drought my neighbors cattle (dairy cows!!!) find a break in the fence & come to my property to swim in my pond. For real, I've seen this!
 
Sheldon Nicholson
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Thanks a ton, I did not know actually that cows were originally wet forest animals, i always thought they were grassland animals like the bison. VERY usefull info.

Ya Ive seen that video by geoff lawton, very good.

And I like your summary that cows like whatever is new. That will be very valuable when it actually comes time to put this knowledge into action.... It seems that a wide variety of forage would be a high priority when raising cattle, based on what you said.

Anyways keep the info coming, I appreciate all of it!
 
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