One challenge I've been having regards raising meat in an urban setting in as "natural" a way as possible.
Ideally we would rotate pasture as Paul recommends for all animals, but we don't have enough land for that...
The two primary variables seem to be housing and feeding.
So, options include
1) Animals live in runs/pens/cages and are bought store food/pellets (this is presumably the worst, but still preferable in my view to store bought)
2) Animals live in a bigger pen/run with ideally areas that could be sectioned off to provide some if not all fodder. I am thinking of a small run with chickens that opens out into my sideyard, for example, where I do my composting.
3) People bring fodder to animals: Yard/Kitchen waste, refuse from schools/restaurants, weeds from the side of the road/empty lots
4) Employ technology like chicken tractors, chicken tunnels, grazing frames (slightly above ground to protect grass/fodder from getting grazed too short) within a pen
My concerns are particularly with
1) Rabbits - get horribly sick when in contact with ground? I am planning on raising them in cages which seems sad/not preferred.
2) How to set up relationships to get food waste - has anyone done this successfully? Do you need a business card? How hard/easy is it? I'm a shy non-schmoozer for the most part...
Other thoughts? Any examples from people doing this successfully?
Maybe you want to check on the Dervaes Family in California mentioned in "Edible Cities", they are familiar with ducks, chicken, and even goats and as fas as I knonw they also give teaching sessions. Also Susanne Scoville in Detroit has experience with ducks (The Duck´N Roll Inn) and might be a valuable source of information and inspiration. Good luck!
Location: Central KS, Zone 6a. Summer High 91.5F (avg), Winter Low 17.5F (avg). 35.7" Annual Rain
posted 4 years ago
If you are looking at rabbits you may want to check Joel Salatin's books or videos to see if you can find out more about his rabbit tractor system. All I know is that he figured out you could lay down hardware cloth or chicken wire (one of these) ahead of the tractor by a few days at least, that way the grass grows its way through the mesh so it can be eaten, but the wire is still there to protect the rabbits and keep them from digging up the rhizomes. The other system he called Racken (for rabbit / chicken) and I think that one involves a moveable traditional rabbit hutch combined with chicken tractor... but I'm not sure. I wish I could remember more about these, but I've only read about them and haven't seen any pictures/diagrams/videos, etc to get the ideas more embedded. I've looked into rabbits a little bit, but I'm honestly not familiar enough with the subject to know how to avoid the disease issues if you don't do a raised hutch. I think there were some threads about colony-raised rabbits around in the "critters" forum that would have valuable information and people more knowledgable than I.
As far as the four strategies, it may work best to do all four. Think of #1 as a hub within the larger run or paddock system (#2). The hub may end up being fairly desolate and ... poopy, so this might be the best place to put compost and deep litter and allow compost-utilizing animals (I'm thinking chickens, but there may be others) free access to help aerate the piles and keep the bugs down. Supplement feed with #3, especially during the winter, but during the growing season put weaned litters of kits or meat birds in tractors or paddocks over grass (#4). If any one food source is getting short, you can fall back on the others... or similarly, cut back on the others when any one becomes particularly abundant. Of course, it only sounds this simple when it's written down, otherwise I would be able to talk about the system I have instead of proposing one
As a fellow shy non-schmoozer I can't help with concern #2, but this is definitely an area where others on the forums have some experience.
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