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Animal Integration

 
Daniel Kern
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I already know that you can use cows, chickens, and pigs to prepare an area to be planted, but what are some good animals to integrate into a perennial garden and a food forest during the growing season?

I have been considering using turkeys or chickens, but i do not know exactly how to integrate them.

I would like to raise animal which can obtain most, if not all of there food from the landscape. One option that I just thought of is to use them in order to stress cover crops.
 
Cj Sloane
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Daniel Kern wrote:...what are some good animals to integrate into a perennial garden and a food forest during the growing season?

I don't have first hand experience yet, but I think ducks are the least harmful since they don't scratch or dig or girdle trees but they still provide fertility, meat, eggs, insect control.
 
elle sagenev
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Ducks are a good fit in most cases. Peacocks have been good for me as they are far more interested in the bugs than in the plants. My chickens are not all that bad as far as the gardens go. I'm not sure they'd hurt trees too terribly much.

As far as pigs they're kind of an after fruiting addition. If you let them roam after the trees have fruited they will clean up anything dropped and left behind. That is beneficial in that it stops the fallen fruit from rotting and attracting pests.

The only thing with ducks is that they will require an open water source. I enjoy all of my animals. The coop is far enough from my food forest that I've never had any issues.
 
Penny Dumelie
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I have no experience in this, but I do have these two notes in my list of information I've been gathering:

No ducks!! They make a mess. Always!!

and

Several kinds of poultry can play an important role in eating pest insects. Chickens do a fine job hunting for insects, particularly the smaller and smarter bantam breeds. Ducks do a fine job as well, and are especially valuable of course for their ability to eat slugs and snails. Turkeys are said to be good insect hunters as well, at least the heritage breeds. Probably the finest insect hunter is the guinea hen. Adult guineas eat 90% insects and have the added bonus of not scratching, making them much superior to chickens in this regard.


Both were taken from comments made by people who have a food forest on the go. I didn't take down sources since it was just for my own use.
 
Mountain Krauss
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The open spaces near us are oak woodlands, and the main land animals in them are turkeys, deer, and coyotes. Of course, there are also reptiles and birds, and small animals like field mice and insects. But for our purposes, the relatively large animals are the ones whose patterns we are seeking to mimic. We don't have feral pigs in our woodlands, but nearby counties do. I don't know if feral pigs wouldn't do well here, or if they just haven't made it here yet.

I think the closest domesticated analog to a deer would be a goat. Since deer are able to feed themselves without damaging the woodland, goats should be able to as well, as long as there aren't too many in a given area.

I think the closest domesticated analog to a wild turkey would be a domesticated turkey, though I think chickens, geese, or ducks (given sufficient water) would be fine, too. If they aren't able to feed themselves, that would suggest either too many in a given area or perhaps they've gone too far down the industrial breed path (like Cornish Cross chickens or the Broad-Breasted White turkeys). Heritage breeds and proper spacing should handle that.

As for coyotes, dogs are the obvious analog. But humans are a pretty good analog, too, at least in terms of function-- putting pressure on the animals to continue moving, and eating enough to keep the population under control.

Of course, that's for our area, and perhaps other woodlands with similar climates. Whatever is going on in the nature nearest you is your best guide.
 
Daniel Kern
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I like the idea of having a pond in my garden. So maybe I can make ducks work. I have also been considering doing a kind of paddock shift system with lettuce and snails. Snails have a very high feed conversion ratio and I have never tried escargo
I also have been considering raising emus.
 
Cj Sloane
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Mountain Krauss wrote:
I think the closest domesticated analog to a deer would be a goat. Since deer are able to feed themselves without damaging the woodland, goats should be able to as well, as long as there aren't too many in a given area.


I'm not positive deer don't damage the woods, they certainly are disruptive to domesticated plants/trees and goats are much more disruptive than deer.
 
Cj Sloane
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Daniel Kern wrote:I like the idea of having a pond in my garden. So maybe I can make ducks work. I have also been considering doing a kind of paddock shift system with lettuce and snails. Snails have a very high feed conversion ratio and I have never tried escargo
I also have been considering raising emus.


Ducks do enjoy snails.
 
David Livingston
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Daniel
I live in France and have tried "escargo" I believe it is whats called an aquired taste . How would you fence the buggers in ?
Stick to Emus they are not so bright and easy to find if they go missing

David
 
Cj Sloane
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If you like butter & garlic you should be able to "acquire" the taste easily. Bill Mollison tells a funny story about fencing them in with electric wire at their eye level.
 
Xisca Nicolas
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I love guinea pigs, they are very easy to control where you want them to be.
They do not scratch, they eat but do not pull anything. Great grass mowers I guess...

Peacocks do make a mess in veggies as well!
I know from a neighbour that they can eat bigger bugs that his hens don't.
And his neighbour is complaining about green leaves loss in her garden, so yes they do eat greens.
 
elle sagenev
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Daniel Kern wrote:I like the idea of having a pond in my garden. So maybe I can make ducks work. I have also been considering doing a kind of paddock shift system with lettuce and snails. Snails have a very high feed conversion ratio and I have never tried escargo
I also have been considering raising emus.

I love my welsh harlequins. Great eggs and they're so cute!
They're super nosey sometimes.
supervising.jpg
[Thumbnail for supervising.jpg]
 
Mountain Krauss
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I keep reading that goats are disruptive, but I have yet to see it on our farm. It's only 3 goats on 4 acres, but the most disruptive thing they do is just trying to follow me wherever I go. They're very smart animals, and they need a lot of minerals, so I assume most of their destructive ways result from boredom or searching for minerals. If I can keep their environment a wildly variable polyculture, and keep a smorgasbord of prunings available to them, I think we won't have any problems with disruptive behavior. I could be wrong, but it's playing out pretty well so far.
 
Daniel Kern
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With ducks do you have a place for them to lay or do they lay all over the place? Do they lay as much as chickens?

I would like to grow feed for any ani.also that I raise. Would it be possible to teach ducks to harvest grains?
 
Alder Burns
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The big challenge with animals and design is to find the species, and the numbers, that are sustainable with the resources available on site (or off-site, but within the design goals) without degrading the site. Many many homesteaders run into trouble by acquiring animals before they are really ready for them ( in terms of housing, fencing, etc.) and by getting, or allowing to breed, more critters than their site can sustainably feed. The key is to start small, and to have a commitment in place to work your way off of purchased feeds....especially grain, hay, and other staples. If you can find a way to intercept the mainstream's waste stream into animal feed (such as movie theater popcorn, frequently available by the trash bag full at movie theater dumpsters, and a favorite of poultry!), and it seems that this subsidy is stable, then you can design it into a system, especially one revolving around a short lifespan (such as a chicken).
The time and effort of the homesteader/manager/workers is also at issue. You can wander the neighborhood, with or without vehicle, and clip leafy branches to carry home to goats.....such "cut and carry" protocols are common in the 2/3 World. You can, as I have done, gather, crack, leach, and cook acorns for chickens....if you live (as I do) in a climate where they are abundant. But is that how you want to spend your time, and is the animal in question the best choice. (Now I know that a sheep, goat, or pig will simple eat the same acorns whole without any work on my part.....but these animals don't lay eggs!)
 
Daniel Kern
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Right. And I won't have a whole lot of time to be messing with the animals food. I need a way to get them a reliable food source preferably directly off the land
 
David Livingston
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Bees are animals too

David
 
elle sagenev
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Mountain Krauss wrote:I keep reading that goats are disruptive, but I have yet to see it on our farm. It's only 3 goats on 4 acres, but the most disruptive thing they do is just trying to follow me wherever I go. They're very smart animals, and they need a lot of minerals, so I assume most of their destructive ways result from boredom or searching for minerals. If I can keep their environment a wildly variable polyculture, and keep a smorgasbord of prunings available to them, I think we won't have any problems with disruptive behavior. I could be wrong, but it's playing out pretty well so far.


The problem with goats is that they love to eat trees. If you're trying to clean out some undergrowth, ideal. If you're trying to grow fruit trees and other trees, not ideal.
 
elle sagenev
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Daniel Kern wrote:With ducks do you have a place for them to lay or do they lay all over the place? Do they lay as much as chickens?

I would like to grow feed for any ani.also that I raise. Would it be possible to teach ducks to harvest grains?


Depends on how you train the duck. All of my birds are raised together in the barn. They all go back their at night. So I mostly have eggs in the barn. The one time they bunked down outside of the barn a coyote got them. I encourage them to go back to the barn now.

It depends on the breed of duck as to laying ability. Welshies are ok at eggs but not as much as chickens. I had Khaki Campbell and Golden-300 and I had more eggs than I knew what to do with. I was selling 3 dozen a week from 6 hens.

I'd say my ducks range about as well as the chickens which is pretty dependent on how much I'm feeding them. I've tapered off the grain feeding and now they're out looking for their own food. I'd supplement them, particularly if you want healthy eggs. Oyster shell for calcium at the least.
 
Daniel Kern
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I do want to raise bees, but I don't think that I should bring them on the land until there is enough food for them. At this point just about all that there is is cypress trees, and grasses. Hopefully oneday I will have a wildflower meadow for them and much much more. I also have been considering raising snails. I believe that a "paddock shift" system could be utilized with snails and lettuce patches. From snails who knows where I will go, but escargot sounds good and so does duck food.

sepp holzer gives his duck's a shelter like this



He says that with the shelter the ducks will be able to sense if a predator is coming and swim into the water.

I'm leaning more towards ducks than chickens right now, but will ducks also harvest grains as chickens can?

The only thing holding me back from ducks right now is water. but Hopefully ill be able to figure something out along the lines of a small pond or the like.
 
Kris schulenburg
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Ducks (especially lighter bodied ones) don't "need" water to swim in, they need to get their heads in the water to wash out their nostrils and swallow food. A dish pan will work, a kids pool or shallow rubber feed pan will give them room to splash around and preen (depending how many you have). The water really needs to be changed every day because they get it very dirty but it has lots of nutrients for growing trees.

Some times mine figure out they can push over winter wheat and buckwheat to eat grains and some times they don't.

Raccoons and coyotes can swim so it may take a big body of water to keep them safe. I don't have enough water to test this theory yet.

They will lay their eggs under brush if left out. We keep ours up at night and they have usually laid all their eggs by 8:30am. If they are let out early about 1/2 of them will go back in the house to lay.

I don't think we could grow anything without ducks eating the slugs.
 
Cj Sloane
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Kris schulenburg wrote:Ducks (especially lighter bodied ones) don't "need" water to swim in, they need to get their heads in the water to wash out their nostrils and swallow food.


What do they do in the winter when it's too cold for water?
 
elle sagenev
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Cj Verde wrote:
Kris schulenburg wrote:Ducks (especially lighter bodied ones) don't "need" water to swim in, they need to get their heads in the water to wash out their nostrils and swallow food.


What do they do in the winter when it's too cold for water?


You either supply a heated dog dish of water for them or you cart water out twice a day for them. I've done both. These aren't wild ducks. If they were they wouldn't stick around for winter or they'd have moving water/water they constantly swim in to prevent freezing. THey require water. I have a pond that I was putting a horse tank heater in to keep a spot open for them but I had one get caught in it so....never again.
 
Kris schulenburg
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We change their water 2x a day too. 2 dish pans (8 ducks) so you can thaw one out while they are drinking from the other. Has worked for 7 years and does not take a lot of effort.
 
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