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Cattle in Northern Norway

 
Andreas Poleo
Posts: 7
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Hi everyone, I've just recently moved to the north of Norway and have started working in a conventional dairy farm. To say the least, I can't wait with getting started with my own permaculture operation as soon as possible! Anyway, as the days pass and I observe all the things I'd rather do differently, I've had an idea. What if I got the farmer I work for to agree on letting me take some bull calves and castrate them, and then use them in a Salatin-style rotational grazing scheme?

Obviously, the mindset of the farmer also being rather conventional, it mostly feels like we're speaking two different languages when discussing these issues. In other words I'm in desperate need of some support from likeminded people, and even better someone with experience with the matter.

The facts:
Conventional farm operating with conventional means, i.e. plenty of diesel, artificial fertilizer and concentrated pellet feed (usually a mix of Norwegian grains with supplements of soy from Brazil - lovely).
The animals are a Norwegian milking breed, the so called Norwegian Red, which apparently have good meat characteristics too.

The questions:
Can I just go for it and use some pasture with some animals and rotate them? What I'm asking is, can I rely simply on grass and no supplemental feed?
How many animals would I need to use? Is it realistic to use only one, for instance? Or four? I realize that it depends on pasture size, though one doesn't really put the mob into mob grazing...
As a thought experiment, how would one convert an entire conventional milking operation to being grass based? Probably not possible?

I've read plenty of Salatin's books and have also informed myself on Holistic Management, so I realize that rotational grazing and HM aren't the same. I trust that I'll be able to develop a good grazing strategy with time and experience, and right now I'm looking for a good place to start. Thanks for taking your time, looking forward to hearing from you!
 
Ian Mack
Posts: 16
Location: Northeastern Coast of the U.S.
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Andreas Poleo wrote:
Can I just go for it and use some pasture with some animals and rotate them? What I'm asking is, can I rely simply on grass and no supplemental feed?

As much as I hate to say it, probably not just due to Norway's climate. Unless I'm much mistaken, you're likely to have at least 4-6 months under significant snowcover, making it very difficult for cows to provide their own feed by grazing. I could be wrong, but unless the Norwegian Reds are willing to sniffle around under the snow like sheep, you'd have to make some hay. The issue here is that you need a hay baler, which can either be a very expensive large-scale machine or a hand-powered wooden box.
 
Michael Radelut
Posts: 203
Location: Germany, 7b-ish
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You're not in the EU - are your farmers obliged to do some sort of "greening" on their farms?
If so, he could let you do some sort of wood pasture using the animals - just not those high-yielding breeds he's already got, more like Galloway - or sheep, if cost or area requirements are prohibitive.
 
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