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Minerals for your animals

 
Fred Morgan
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Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
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In the idea of permaculture, is there any thoughts on minerals, i.e. getting away from having to buy them? I myself take no vitamins, I just eat right. I do use salt but I suspect I get enough in my foods, even if you don't count pickles. 

I raise sheep, and one of the real issues is minerals, especially here in a land who knows virtually nothing about sheep - and thinks you just give them what is appropriate for cattle (which is definitely wrong)

My plan soon is to do a soil test to determine what is in the soil, and only supplement on whatever is missing - but I am curious, because I definitely believe in feed the soil instead of just giving minerals.

Also, since our sheep get a lot of leaves, vines, etc I probably can assume that these are full of minerals, since trees tend to extract from deep in the ground minerals.

So, what say you?
 
Dale Hodgins
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        I see you're in a tropical zone so it's likely that some of the necessary minerals have leached out if you're on laterite soil. Macaws monkeys and apes often eat Clay in response to mineral poor foods. Your domestic animals are unlikely to find or know that they need this. If you are near the ocean there's a good chance that you'll find seaweed which is palatable to your animals in small doses. My goats loved kelp and bladderwort. Both plants contain a host of micronutrients.
 
Fred Morgan
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Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
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I should look up noni, since we have it growing nearly wild here. Supposed to be a very good tonic.

Leaves from trees generally have lots of minerals.

I can see various test, thankfully they are cheap.
 
Marissa Little
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There's a sheep breed that lives almost entirely on seaweed...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Ronaldsay_%28sheep%29

Depending on what you use your animals for, you may not need to supplement much.  But selenium is really important any many areas are deficient in it for one reason or another.  And naturally, hooved animals simply wouldn't live there.  I read a study on goats dying in an area that was traditionally stocked with another animal.  The goats were introduced more recently and simply couldn't handle the high selenium amounts.  So if you are going to stock non-native animals on land, you are likely going to have to provide for them in non-natural ways, i.e. putting our minerals for them.
 
Leila Rich
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Fred, Pat Colby's 'Natural Farming' might be worth a look. She's Australian and her climate's very different, but she focuses on mineralising the soil, as opposed to the animals.
Her writing is very practical and completely unsentimental: She's a strong advocate of culling 'poor doers', rather than keeping weak genetics in the flock.
 
Fred Morgan
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Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
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Thanks, I have to look for that book.

Yeah, I am a firm believer in "scientific neglect". If it doesn't do well, I am not going to kill myself trying to make it survive.

 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
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I have always given my goats and horses a mineral block - never thought about not doing it.  Is there a reason that I should not do this?
 
Fred Morgan
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Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
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Jeanine Gurley wrote:
I have always given my goats and horses a mineral block - never thought about not doing it.  Is there a reason that I should not do this?


Most people do, but with sheep, they are very sensitive to too much of certain minerals (like copper, for example)

And minerals cost money. I eat a very balanced diet myself, so I don't buy vitamins. No need - the doctors even say so. No point having expensive urine.

Just so you all know, I question EVERYTHING we are doing. Permaculture is about observation. We have enough animals I can actually divide and watch what happens when I change certain treatments. Sometimes it doesn't matter.

For example, I have one group that is in the pasture every day between 5 am to 5:30 pm (basically our daylight period). There is another that comes in at 4 pm and has cut grass to eat. So far, I can't tell any difference, and if I give grass to the first group, they don't touch it. I prefer not to cut grass, if I can avoid it.

But, the first group, if I can scything the lawn, will gather at the fence to eat all the clippings!
 
Emil Spoerri
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Copper may be potentially poisonous to sheep, but it's also very important. You say you have parasite problems with your sheep? A healthy copper level is needed for sheep to be able to cope with parasites.
 
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