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joel salatin

 
paul wheaton
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this thread is for all sorts of stuff about joel salatin.

To get things started, here's a video about some of joel's techniques:



 
Jami McBride
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If this is the Joel spot I do not think it should be under Critter Care. 
Joel calls himself a grass farmer first and foremost.  Joel focuses on soil to sustain his animals. 

Move it up one level is my recommendation 
 
paul wheaton
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Well, I know we have already talked about joel lots and lots on these forums.  And when I wanted to share this, I felt it was about critter care and I came to this forum looking .... where is the thread about joel's stuff ....  and I didn't see one!

So, maybe there is a thread somewhere else about other aspects of joel.  But!  I think of joel as a critter farmer.  Chickens, pigs, rabbits and cattle

Yes, Joel raises pasture polyculture - but almost exclusively for the critters.

 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Are you sure he doesn't raise a polyculture of critters for the sake of the pasture? 

I was intrigued by one part of the interview: He's picking pasture species, and says something like "here's white clover, orchardgrass, fescue, red clover, bluegrass, dandelion, broadleaf plantain...I'm having trouble seeing the narrow-leaf, but we have it..." including some species that others go to some trouble to introduce, and others that might be considered weeds in most contexts.

Later on, he mentions that he never planted a seed. Do you suppose these sought-after pasture species were just around, maybe due to his neighbors and predecessors, or do you think he was using a little bit of hyperbole?
 
Jami McBride
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Hum.... maybe he doesn't plant the seed, but maybe it's in his feed ration (indirect seeding).

And he does apply the mostly composted material scooped from his barn.  This stuff has the feed he gives his cows all winter long plus hay he puts down thickly as bedding and pig/cow droppings.  Some seed potential in there I think.

But other than returning the nutrition once it's cycled through his animals he doesn't fuss with this fields as far as I've seen.
 
Emil Spoerri
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Paul, while i would say that discussion of joels practices belong in critter care, i am going to have to point out how much of a grass farmer he is.

I was able to ask him a couple questions during a presentation he gave on holistic mob grazing

One of these questions i posed was "how are your beeves winter gains?"
he replied something like

"i don't worry about winter gains. when you are talking about maximizing the performance of an animal, you are talking about lots of work, heavy machinery and in the end you are compromising the environment for the animal. Look, this isn't a dairy...a beef cow puts her fat on her back, a dairy cow puts her fat in a bucket, as soon as you take away from the feed that dairy cow is getting, your going to be getting less milk. A beef cow can keep going on it's reserves from the previous winter.
But the real beauty comes in later, after winter, when that blaze of growth comes in, even though my animals may look a little gaunt, while my neighbor's beeves are gaining a pound or less a day with soybean hulls, their animals might make 2 pounds a day off of the grass, while mine can beat 4 pounds a day. It's all part of the natural cycle of hot season to cold season to hot season for them, my animals are more adapted to their own environment."

he didn't outright say it, but if you took it into context with what he regularly says, he was saying that his way of keeping cows is more healing to land then other ways. I feel strongly his focus is primarily on the welfare of the soil and the grass, the welfare of the animals comes naturally after that.

I didn't have the guts to comment i have heard it said "you can't stop letting your beef cows gain through the winter, as soon as they stop gaining they get tough, people who let their animals stop gaining give grass fed beef a bad name"

his vantage seems more admirable and knightly then the gourmet take on it, at least to me.



and since this is the kind of thing i think you were hoping for, the other question i asked was this

"a lot of grass farmers talk about the advantages of mob grazing in more arid climates than this heavy rainfall area, what are some of the advantages of mob grazing in this climate?"

He was pressed for time, but he told a nice story about how the guy he started the abbattoir who he rents some land from was worried about his land.
I guess they had got a lot of rainfall and the last area he had grazed the beeves on (which was pretty weedy too) had become more of a mud field than a pasture. Pugging, mud flowing down hill a bit here and there covering up grass, not much grass visible to speak of. The guy was strongly desiring Joel to plant some sort of seed in there to make sure the pasture stayed established. Joel wasn't worried (though a bit more than usual), he hadn't planted a seed in many many many years (35-45 years? can't remember how long). Anyways, of course i can't tell it as well as he can, might as well cut to the chaise, the pasture bounced back as if it had never happened, only this time without a single weed... crushed and cow pied the canadian thistle out of existence...

perhaps i can recall a bit more from the event later on in this day.

Gosh, i need to get to sleep! supposed to start milking for the season in the morning!
 
Wyatt Smith
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great video!  I love Joel's way with words.
 
tel jetson
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asmileisthenewak47 wrote:
He was pressed for time, but he told a nice story about how the guy he started the abbattoir who he rents some land from was worried about his land.
I guess they had got a lot of rainfall and the last area he had grazed the beeves on (which was pretty weedy too) had become more of a mud field than a pasture. Pugging, mud flowing down hill a bit here and there covering up grass, not much grass visible to speak of. The guy was strongly desiring Joel to plant some sort of seed in there to make sure the pasture stayed established. Joel wasn't worried (though a bit more than usual), he hadn't planted a seed in many many many years (35-45 years? can't remember how long). Anyways, of course i can't tell it as well as he can, might as well cut to the chaise, the pasture bounced back as if it had never happened, only this time without a single weed... crushed and cow pied the canadian thistle out of existence...


I believe he called that "deep soil massage" or something to that effect.

Jami McBride wrote:
Hum.... maybe he doesn't plant the seed, but maybe it's in his feed ration (indirect seeding).

And he does apply the mostly composted material scooped from his barn.  This stuff has the feed he gives his cows all winter long plus hay he puts down thickly as bedding and pig/cow droppings.  Some seed potential in there I think.

But other than returning the nutrition once it's cycled through his animals he doesn't fuss with this fields as far as I've seen.


I don't think Polyface feeds a "ration" to speak of, even in winter.  just hay from Polyface fields.

the Salatins weren't the first folks to farm that land.  it wouldn't surprise me if previous occupants had seeded some of those species and a few specimens were left over.  neighbors as a source of seeds makes sense, too.  "whatever's growing in the side ditches."
 
Jami McBride
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by 'ration' I was referring to what he feeds his birds and rabbits in addition to their foraging.  I know mine sure can loose some seed as well as eat it.

By 'stuff', I meant hay, alfalfa whatever he grows that I see him put into his cows troughs.  I would think there be some seed in that, which might make it back out when he scoops and spreads - cycle of life and all that don't you know 

 
tel jetson
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ah.  right you are.

I believe the hay comes from the same fields the animals graze, so I don't think that would do it, but the bird food certainly could.  I have no idea what's in there.

there may also have been a time before Maestro Salatin was such a rock star and did buy hay or grain for the cattle.
 
Emil Spoerri
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he doesn't own hay equipment

he buys enough hay for about a month every year
 
tel jetson
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asmileisthenewak47 wrote:
he doesn't own hay equipment

he buys enough hay for about a month every year


what lead you to that conclusion?  I recall him telling a story about making hay.  they tried to use loose hay packed into a hay wagon then piled in a barn, but that didn't work very well, so they caved and started baling.  he then showed a picture of a tall pole barn filled roughly to the roof with bales.  he also said he likes to have enough hay in reserve to feed hay exclusively for several months, to be safe.  made me pretty sure they do make hay, but I'll defer if you're quite sure they don't.
 
Emil Spoerri
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pretty sure he is not keen on owning the equipment, also pretty sure he said he buys it
he does keep a reserve, in case of unusual heavy snow cover
 
Jami McBride
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Anyone know how he pens  his cows?  In a dense or loose grazing situation - cattle to land ratios....?

I still say Joel's story starts with the land and ends with the land, I'll play nice and focus on his animal techniques 

 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Another important thing that he sometimes leaves out, but is in The Omnivore's Dilemma:

He buys commodity corn to feed his poultry. That flow of nutrients onto his pasture might be important.
 
tel jetson
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Joel Hollingsworth wrote:
Another important thing that he sometimes leaves out, but is in The Omnivore's Dilemma:

He buys commodity corn to feed his poultry. That flow of nutrients onto his pasture might be important.


buys a lot of kelp geothermally dried in Iceland, too, to use as mineral supplement for all the critters.  that's got to be an important source of minerals for the dirt.  certainly a major source of minerals for the critters.

Joel Salatin seemed especially concerned with calcium, particularly as a necessary part of calpain synthesis in cattle.  the story is that calpains break down proteins a bit and keep beef tender while the carcass is hanging.  without calpains, lean animals get tough because they chill so much faster than animals insulated with a lot of fat.  or something like that.

anyway, there's a fair amount of calcium in kelp, along with various and sundry other elements, vitamins, and amino acids.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Odd that his calcium is coming all the way from Iceland. I would think there would be less expensive sources, closer by.

I bet the sundry other nutrients are most of his reason for the kelp, but who knows.

Also, I would think with so much poultry out in the pasture, that even fairly coarse and dead minerals could be incorporated into the pasture ecosystem and ultimately into the beef. For instance, young birds' grit could be a mix of, say, one part very hard grit to four parts sedimentary rock, and as they age the proportion of sedimentary rock could increase. The hard stuff would wear away the sedimentary rock very quickly, giving thick egg shells but also manure with an extremely high minerals content. The choice of rock could even be adjusted based on what part of the pasture the pasture the birds are on.
 
Emil Spoerri
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not only is icelandic kelp sundried into the highest quality product, it is also supposedly a more nutrient rich species of kelp...
 
paul wheaton
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Wow!  Excellent info!  I didn't know that!

I asked Joel a question once:  "why not feed the offal from the chickens to the pigs, and the offal from the pigs to the chickens?"  He said something like "I would, except I think that would be pushing my customers ability to embrace what I do too far."

I once read an article by him that suggested that trying to be worried about feeding protein to cattle is the wrong way to go about it.  I wish I could find that article again.

 
Joel Hollingsworth
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paul wheaton wrote:"why not feed the offal from the chickens to the pigs, and the offal from the pigs to the chickens?"


Hm...from my armchair, I'd want a less-closely-related species somewhere in that cycle, in case of prions. And unfortunately, I'm not certain insects (e.g., black soldier flies) are far enough away for a closed loop like that to be completely safe. Do pigs like to eat mycelium?

It's definitely safer if either pigs eat chickens OR chickens eat pigs, but not both.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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All ground has weed seeds in it.  If it's lacking, they'll blow in from somewhere.  By preventing the cattle from eating all the choice plants down to the ground until they all die out, you allow whatever is already there to survive, and thrive.  Thus, the need for intensively managed grazing.

Kathleen
 
tel jetson
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asmileisthenewak47 wrote:
pretty sure he is not keen on owning the equipment, also pretty sure he said he buys it
he does keep a reserve, in case of unusual heavy snow cover


just looked over my notes from listening to Mr. Salatin.  he keeps an eighteen-month supply of hay on hand, and he cuts it from his own land and land he leases.  he wanted to discourage selling hay, as it amounts to selling the fertility of the dirt.

he also talked about stockpiling forage to get animals through a drought.  I believe he meant leaving mature grass standing in the field.  is that correct?  seems like it might not be of the best quality at that point, but maybe it is.

he recommended grazing twice in a season, but I believe that could change with local conditions.

asmileisthenewak47 wrote:
not only is icelandic kelp sundried into the highest quality product, it is also supposedly a more nutrient rich species of kelp...


Joel was very specific that he preferred geothermally dried kelp.  I don't know that the distinction is important, but Mr. Salatin seemed to think so.

Joel Hollingsworth wrote:
Odd that his calcium is coming all the way from Iceland. I would think there would be less expensive sources, closer by.


he also recommended Redmond salt and something with a name along the lines of Fertrell Poultry Nutri-Balancer.  for cattle.  those both also contain calcium.  the Nutri-Balancer may also contain North Atlantic kelp meal.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Stockpiled forage may not be as high quality as if it had been grazed at the proper time, but in a drought it can be the difference between being able to keep your animals alive, or having to butcher or sell all of them (usually into a poor market, as everyone else in your area is probably doing the same thing at the same time).

Kathleen
 
paul wheaton
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Paul,
I notice this recurring theme in a lot of your videos and podcasts; you'll say something that begs elaboration, then move too quickly (for my taste) to something else without sufficiently expounding on your original statement. Can you discuss at a bit more length why you think Salatin has such a "long way to go to get to Sepp"? I don't really much dig the low-roofed chicken tractors he uses for his broilers either (I see that's a hot-button issue around here), but beyond that his operation looks pretty exemplary from where I'm sitting. The way he runs his layers is a perfect model of the method you espouse as the "end-all-be-all" (the paddock system) in your chicken care article, even if it's on pasture and not in a permaculture jungle. IMO there are also some food safety issues with letting chickens run where there is people food in the ideal picture you've painted.. not to mention they're bloody ravenous and eat anything in sight.

And I want the second flush off my raspberry canes.

(edited for grammar)
 
John Polk
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Before Joel Salatin's book ("Pastured Poultry Profits", the de facto standard book on free range chicken farming was "The Dollar Hen: The Classic Guide to American Free-Range Egg Farming" by Milo Hastings (first published in 1909!).  In my humble opinion, they should both be required reading for anybody contemplating raising healthy/happy poultry.  While Hasting's book is over one hundred years old, it is still relevant to successfully raising chickens today.  His chicken houses were full sized (and needed a team of horses to move), but they eliminated the problems of today's  (unsuitable, IMHO) low profile structures.  Two problems, as I see them, with today's houses are: the "no headroom" design is cruelty to animals, and secondly, as has been proven by Miss. State U, a broiler chicken raised in an environment where ammonia, at levels detectable by a human nose, will produce a chicken ½ pound lighter on average.  If you are raising 100 broilers, you are losing 50 pounds of meat!

Milo Hasting's book has been republished, and I feel is worth a read.
http://www.nortoncreekpress.com/the_dollar_hen.html


 
            
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I know a lot of people are on the fence about the low-ceiling thing and I tend to agree it's inhumane.. at the very least a questionable practice; in a case of questionable ethics it's always better to be on the safe side of the fence IMO. I know two farmers personally who sought out better solutions to confinement (a lesser degree thereof I suppose, ultimately) after starting their operations with the standard 10x12 tractors.. not because they were displeased with their efficiency, but because they felt in observing the birds that they were unable to "fully express their chicken-ness" in such a confined space. All I'm saying is that bold statements beg sufficient explanation.. playing the same harp I always do around here.
 
John Polk
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I imagine one reason for building them so low is to reduce weight.  Less weight equals easier to move.  With the way they are usually packed in, I tend to think of it as "caged birds on a grass floor".  I certainly would not be happy living like that.

 
Kathleen Sanderson
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I suspect that one reason those cages are so low is to reduce the wind profile.  I don't know what kind of winds they get on the Salatin farm, but here, anything high and light and not SERIOUSLY anchored down will blow away. 

Kathleen
 
Jami McBride
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Yes Paul - after viewing your Joel Salatin vid above I went to the chicken article again to find out what bothers you about Joel's set up - noting is mentioned as far as I could ascertain.  Also, I don't have Sep's book yet, but I don't remember anything mentioned of his chicken system in all the material I've seen.

So could you please post the details your referring to here - I'm curious just like everyone else
 
                            
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I saw Joel yesterday at the Mother Earth News fair in Puyallup, WA. It was the funny fast film version of his lecture, but it was a treat to see him speak in person-he is a born preacher!

The cornish x that he raises in pens are probably too fat to make much use of a higher ceiling and they are only in those tractors for about 4-6 weeks being moved daily. These birds grow so fast and are so singularly focused on food, to say that a low profile pen is cruel may be carrying things a bit far.

My favorit blog Throw Back at Trapper Creek has a great post about her reasons for raising cornish x in Salatin style tractors. http://matronofhusbandry.wordpress.com/2009/06/01/butt-ugly/

Never seen any info on how Holzer keeps chickens.
 
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I mainly worry about the birds being heat-stressed in such low pens.  My field pens are about 6 feet high! 
 
                                  
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Just a note that Joel is headed in August down to australia for a series of workshops?

http://milkwood.net/2011/05/23/joel-salatin-returns-to-australia/

the link above also includes leads to his 2010 workshop course notes and such. good stuff for us faraway aussies!
 
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John Polk wrote:
Milo Hasting's book has been republished, and I feel is worth a read.
http://www.nortoncreekpress.com/the_dollar_hen.html


It is old enough you can also get it from the Gutenberg site as a free download.
 
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Derek Brewer
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I am a big fan of Joel and went to Field Day at his farm this year. It was a heck of an experience. I don't have much time to comment on it now, but here are my pictures (128, some duplicates):
http://www.flickr.com/photos/outoforder2day/sets/72157627746184879/

I know I have more... Yep, there they are. 585 total. I'll add them to this set over time.

Hoop House


Poultry


Grapes


One of his many hay barns


Side note on the pen height issue: I know with quail you purposely don't want the pens too high because they will flush and break their necks. Not sure how it works with chickens. I have his pastured poultry book and will see if me makes mention of it. On the heat front, he opens up the side panel and angles them such that their is good airflow at all times.
 
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I used to be a dyed in the wool Joel fan until I took a tour of his farm...that ended it for me. I've utilized some of his pasture and livestock practices and I find them to work. I found several things at his place that negated what he preaches in his books and when I asked a few questions, he was pretty rude and seemed defensive. Changed the subject abruptly. He was very rude and sarcastic towards the children on the tour and I found some of his husbandry practices to show greed over humanity.

I got to see dead rabbits in his pens being trampled over by the other rabbits in the pen. I got to see overcrowding in his rabbit/poultry hoop houses and flocks of laying hens there that would be culled from my own flocks for their poor, unhealthy appearances...and this was in April. The hens in that house had nowhere to lay and were trying to cower under feeders on groups of eggs, crowded three and four deep in the nest boxes, the waterers had thick, green scum on them. In the sale building after the tour, I didn't notice any distinction being made between the eggs produced by the overcrowded masses in the Racken House and the pastured egg-mobile inhabitants. Both groups of layers were missing enough feathers to look like birds in the middle of molt...and, again, this is in April. Why are these birds missing so many feathers, have such pale combs and dull feathering....all things he talks about in his book, I might add, as being "bad". I'm still wondering if all their eggs sold under the "pastured" price?

I got to see cattle that had been out on pasture for a couple of months squirting liquid feces in huge pools. In his books he specifically preaches against that level of diarrhea, even describes what a normal cow pat should look like and also says he offers hay to his cows that are out on rich new pasture so that they "don't lose all their nutrients out their backside"...I saw no such proffered hay. When I asked how long they had been out on pasture, he told me and followed that with a quick "the pasture is really rich" in a sharpish tone. Yeah, Joel, I get it.... the pasture is rich and you don't wanna talk about why your cows are still squirting like a goose...but where's the hay and the healthy cow pats of which you were so adamant in your book? I'm not yer usual city idiot...I come from the country and actually use pasture. I know the whys and wherefors of rich, spring pasture....but why say one thing and do another?

The pastured poultry? Yes, they are on pasture. How much of it is actually edible when you have a hoard of meaty chicks squirting their feces all over it and confined to a small area, well I couldn't really say. IMO, the "pastured" part of Joel's chickens are a marketing gimmick, as there is no way a meaty bird could find any graze in all that poop covered grass nor would they when presented with continuous feeding systems that Joel has in his pens.

Yeah, they are out in "fresh" air (how fresh could it be under all that tin and with only a small square of daylight/fencing in one corner) and not raised in a commercial poultry house...just several small commercial poultry houses. The only thing missing was the deep litter underfoot. The airless, dark, fecal slick floor/grass, and over-crowding were in evidence and the feed looked like a commercially sold pellet feed just like the big boys. When I asked what mix was in his feed, he became defensive once again and changed the subject.

As a matter of fact, the only questions Mr. Joel answered all day were from the city folk who didn't know beans from bupkiss and who hadn't read his books. This was just a few of the total discrepancies I noted throughout the day. By the end of the day I just wanted to get out of there and try to forget what I saw.

I felt my $15 tour was well worth the money....I learned all I needed to know about Joel's REAL setup and lost a lot of my naivete on his actual practices vs. the practices he touts in his books.

Oh...and his pasture was lovely! At least that was real.
 
Julie Helms
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Was this just this past April?
 
Jay Green
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The one before...2010.
 
Jay Green
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Here's one pic of his crowded Racken House~I didn't see one glossy, healthy bird in the whole flock.

And another of one of his poor, feather picked hens.

And some of his pastured layers...who also had many bare backs and rumps.
 
it's a teeny, tiny, wafer thin ad:
The stocking stuffer game for all your Permaculture companions
http://www.FoodForestCardGame.com
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