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tadpoles, snails, worms as protein rich feed

 
Kay Bee
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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I've seen threads dedicated to raising specific foods for chickens, fish and other domesticated critters, but I haven't seen one dedicated to methods for raising an assortment of protein rich creatures that are lower on the food chain for consumption by many different times of farm animals.

Some great links out there for vermiculture and black soldier fly larva.  How about ways to specifically encourage frog/toad egg laying on a more continuous basis throughout the growing season?

Is there a variety of aquatic or terrestrial snail that is considered "more palatable" and nutritious for chickens, water fowl and others?

I'm not a big fan of increasing the populations of midges flying around, but if they could be cultured in a harvestable manner, this link indicates that they have enormous potential for rapid reproduction on a sustained basis (can't get ahold of the link to the methodology, yet):

http://www.thegreencenter.net/list-aqua.htm
http://survivalplus.com/foods/THE-BACKYARD-FISH-FARM.htm

what else?

My plan is to use the rest of this growing season for observation on  our new land and to begin to put in place some ways to increase the lower parts of the food chain for animals that would be introduced next year.
 
                    
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This is an interesting question & I await more info. on it.

I just wanted to mention that I have heard of people keeping sprout cabinets going in the winter to provide fresh nutritious food for turkeys & the like.

I shall be back in hopes that we get a good answer here.
 
Jeff Mathias
Posts: 125
Location: Westport, CA Zone 8-9; Off grid on 20 acres of redwood forest and floodplain with a seasonal creek.
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While I cannot speak to everything here I can add a bit to the conversation.

On the frog/toad laying there is not really much more you can do than provide them with plenty of habitat. Obviously the more habitat you provide the better for your purposes. I suppose you might find a local variety that was not protected and try breeding them to release at different times of the year, but most frogs need specific cycles of light and dark as well as cooling and heating to trigger reproduction.

Most water fowl tend towards the smaller aquatic snails, larger ones like the apple snail have pretty tough shells. Some form of fish perhaps, carp or koi; both would help control algae and weeds and be a good source of protein.

For a simple sustainable protein especially for chickens look into what reptile breeders and hobbyists are doing. You actually have a lot of choices there, some of those are crickets, meal worms, and cockroaches. This is where you can get creative, find one of your local species of insects and go for it.

One observation: I have noticed a lot of people who must lock up their chickens at night often do not let their chickens out at or just before sunrise and often have them locked up before sunset, I think that is a mistake. The majority of insects and wildlife in general are most active at those times.

So having said all that I think the easiest thing to do would be what you plan to do already; observe and then use those observations to create areas that help benefit the natural production of the types of protein already in your area. I would look for beneficial insects that are already being eating by your other animals and see what could be done to help increase their populations. Generally providing habitat is all that is necessary.

This is one of those scenarios actually that gets better through the use of permaculture as a whole without the need to hyper focus on specifically breeding insects for food. By simply planting diverse and complex plant guilds that are in tune with the natural cycles in your area and leaving some areas more wild than others the insects will come on their own as you are now already providing them with food and habitat.

Jeff



 
                    
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Thanks Jeff, great ideas & info.
 
Kay Bee
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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Thanks to you both for the intersest and info!

I agree with you Jeff that enhancing the size and diversity of general habitat will certainly help build the basis for a foraging type food web.  I think it still may be useful to look at either creating or helping hot pockets of growth that may be protected from predators other than humans interested in the "harvest" or just allowing access to the chickens or other livestock that the protein is intended for.  Raising the crickets, mealworms or other items in-line with what you mentioned above is definitely what i have in mind. 

An example from our property in NC.  We hand dug a small (couple thousand gallon) pond in the lowest area of the property where water already tended to collect.  Since the soil was a hard red clay it held water well and after a couple rains remained filled from that point on.  within a month, the first frogs had moved in, then crayfish, water boatman, etc...  this all happened on it's own even though the nearest body of water (a small lake) was a quarter mile away.  very fun!


The first couple years, the toads and frogs (several species including tree frogs) tended to lay many many eggs and the tadpoles all did very well.  we would have thousands of small toads roaming the gardens throughout the summer.  Then we did a very ignornant thing and introduced fancy tail goldfish (large ones) and a bullfrog in to the pond.  within a couple of years, we no longer had so many toads or young frogs hopping around, bu tthere were still some to be found.  nature found a balance and the pond has done very well despite the many goldfish and several enormous bullfrogs that now live there.

Anyway, the point i'd like you to consider is that with many small ponds and some of them having a protective mesh over them, i think we may be able to foster an environment that allows for usable population explosions from some of these critters.
 
                                
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I used to be a reptile and amphibian hobbyist, and there are a lot of insects that we would raise and collect for herps.  One of the better ones was N. cinerea, the Lobster roach.  They were so much easier to raise than crickets; they didn't jump, smell, cannibalize, or make any noise. 

I'm not sure how you could do it on a permaculture basis, since most of my experience is cage culture of insects.

One thing we would do is to roll up about twenty feet of corrugated cardboard and bury it in the ground.  In a few months time (depending on the locale) you would get a lot of termites.  There used to be a publication that the University of Toronto published, but I can no longer find it.  It was titled Termiculture if your interested; the hopes were for there to be a commercial extraction of termites to use as biofuel or to dry and use as animal feed.  If you leave it long enough you'll also have huge swarms of alates that your insectivorous livestock will love. 

There have also been some people who feed their fish and chickens on maggots by suspending rotting animal or plant matter in cages above the pen or tank.  Concerns have been raised over botulism, but I never experienced it when I tried it with Coturnix quail and bluegill. An alternative is to put the organic matter in some sort of container, allow it to attract and collect flies, then put a muslin bag or net over it and seal it off when the flies are mature.  Then freeze them and feed them to your animals. 

Ofcourse this is getting more into aquaponics and microponics than permaculture I suppose. 

I've always had great luck with brushpiles and small ponds(fishless) at increasing insect life. 
 
                    
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Thanks Chazwozzle   for the termite & lobster roach ideas.

What part of the world/climate do lobster roaches live in?

I know we do not often see termites here because it gets so cold & dry.
 
Kay Bee
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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You had me going there until the visual of the huge swarms of flying termites! 

I'll look into the lobster roach as well.

aquaponics is a great thing as part of a permaculture setup.  any chance to take advantage of the readily available nutrients in a pond is of interest (at least to me).

I'm still interested in finding more on the midge culture in particular.  Using a small amount of water in a series of trays mixed with some manure as a nutrient source to enable a continuous harvest of either the larva or adult form for animal feed is intriguing.
 
                                
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Look into the fish trade on how to raise midge and mosquito larva.  From what I've read it's the same general concept as raising duckweed.

I think the lobster roaches come from Cuba, but they've naturalized themselves into parts of Florida.  Most species of roaches lend themselves well to culturing; but most people use the more tropical species because they will dessicate quickly in a house.  Also some species do climb smooth surfaces, so breeders put a 2 inch barrier of petroleum jelly around the top of the cage to discourage them from climbing out.  There are some other species of roach that do not climb.  What I would do is keep the roach cage inside of another cage, which usually consisted of a plastic container with a tight fitting lid and a few ventilation holes.  All are fast; so I would definitely freeze them before giving to fish or other livestock to prevent escapees. 

SouthEastFarmer;  have you read Gene Logsdons' 'The Pond Lovers' Guide'? 
 
Kay Bee
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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No - I've read a handful of Logsdon's books, but I haven't heard of that one.  Recommended?

Thanks!
 
                                
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It's an interesting read; like most of his books it isn't a how-to by any means, but informative, heartening and well worth reading. 
 
Judith Browning
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Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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...old thread....interesting topic. Anyone doing this?
 
Michael Cox
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Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Old thread indeed!

I've previously looked into snail farming for human consumption. There are free range approaches that look interesting, although I would need to brush up on it again as it was before I started looking at a permaculture perspective. I believe that all forage and raising is done on farm and takes quite small acreage. Possible route for a small homestead looking to diversify income streams.

Free range snail farming
 
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