Ute Chook

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since Aug 05, 2009
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Recent posts by Ute Chook

Tyler Ludens wrote:If you have predators such as foxes, you need to close the chickens into a secure shelter at night. To do this you have to actually be there, or have someone else do it for you.

... or use a automatic door opener/closer (they respond to light levels).

But I think it's very important to check on livestock daily. Things can (and will) go wrong.
If a feeder or waterer jammed, malfunctioned or whatever, the poor critters would die miserable deaths.
Best to have someone check once a day in exchange for eggs, meat, or payment.
5 years ago

tel jetson wrote:

paul wheaton wrote:I like the idea that with paddock shift you will cut those feed costs by about 80%

I don't think that just changing to a paddock shift would make such a difference in this instance. Cornish Cross chickens are notorious for not being terribly interested in foraging. they don't even particularly like to walk. so switching breeds might be required to reduce feed costs substantially.


I'm certainly in favor of better management practices like paddock shifting, because when it all the advantages are taken into account, it's a much better arrangement. but I don't think it's quite such an immediate or obvious payback.

Second that. Chickens are monogastrics, not ruminants, and while grass/greenfeeds are important to their health (vitamins, immune system) and welfare and lead to better, tastier and healthier meat and eggs, grass digestibility for chickens is limited.

Some interesting data can be found in this paper: Buchanan et al. (2007) Nutrient Composition and Digestibility of Organic Broiler Diets and Pasture Forages. http://japr.fass.org/content/16/1/13.full#ref-6 (full paper)

Some quotes:

Organic poultry have access to pasture [3], a nutrient source that has not been fully evaluated for use in poultry. Laying hens and broiler chickens given access to pasture may meet various nutrient needs through foraging.

Buckner et al. [4, 5] found that giving laying hens access to early-growth Kentucky bluegrass resulted in a 20% reduction in feed consumption and increased egg production compared with hens raised in confinement. Additionally, hens reared on alfalfa or Ladino clover need considerably less feed protein than confined hens [1]. High-quality alfalfa hay can supply carotene, vitamin K, and vitamin E [1]. Feed having only 11 to 12% protein* has been shown to be adequate for hens on good pasture [6]. Additionally, Moritz et al. [7] reported that organically reared Ross broilers may overcome growth impairments associated with Met deficiency through foraging.

Poultry may obtain small amounts of energy from pasture forage (285 to 542 kcal/kg).**

Poultry have the ability to utilize amino acids found in forage. True amino acid digestibility values for Met, Lys, and Thr were approximately 88, 79, and 84%, respectively.

* e.g. wheat or good quality oats. Proprietary poultry feed would have about 16% protein.
** A laying hen needs about 1.3-1.5 MJ/day = c. 358 kcal. This is an industry figure for regulated environments. A chicken running around outside, especially during colder periods of the year, is likely to need significantly more than that for temperature regulation. Dito for fast-growing broilers.
But a chicken can not physiologically (crop size) eat 1 kg of grass a day.

tel jetson wrote:
at that point, you'll have to take into account that the breeds that do forage better also take longer to reach market size. it can be the difference between a six to eight week grow out, and a ten to twelve week grow out. that's potentially twice as long. that would eat into the feed savings substantially.

True, and that's for broiler hybrids. Dual-purpose take even longer still. I rear about 20 males of Barnevelders, Orpingtons and crosses of those breeds for the table each year and they take 20-26 week to reach 4.5 lb slaughter weight (cleaned out). First crosses are the quickest. Organic feed is very expensive here and with detailed record-keeping I have found that it costs me at least 13 Euro (c. $16) just in feed to rear dual-purpose roosters to table weight, never mind housing, electric fences, and the work involved in rearing and butchering them. I do it because with breeding you end up with surplus males, because I like eating truly tasty organic chicken but economic it is not, no matter how much they forage outside (in a subtropical or tropical climate with year-round abundant growth the economics may of course be different).

Another interesting quote on this from http://www.lionsgrip.com/pastured.html (CHICKEN FEED: Grass-Fed Chickens & Pastured Poultry)

Experience of many pasture poultry producers is that 3.5 to 4 pounds of feed are required for each 1 pound of gain. Conventional poultry requires about 2 pounds of feed to get 1 pound of gain. It is entirely possible that pasture poultry requires up to twice the amount of feed as confined poultry.

So it's not all that simple...

Of course paddock shift is likely to improve your follow-on grass or hay crop (by fertilizing the grassland), combat gastro-intestinal problems in other livestock (by eating intermediate hosts such as slugs, snails and fly larvae etc.) so that's something valuable that reductionist economic balance-sheets tend to overlook. But putting the birds out to pasture does not mean you can only give them 1/5th of the normal ration.
5 years ago
That is seriously impressive. Well worth watching.
5 years ago

Rufus Laggren wrote:Reading about Sep Holzer's work, it's struck me that most of the site techniques that go into permaculture require extensive use of heavy machinery, easily extending into hundreds of hours of machine time and thousands of gallons of fuel. This looks like a major requirement and cost to permaculture, at least to form the site initially.

I think what is often forgotten is that Permaculture is a set of *design tools* or *planning tools* and not any particular way of managing or altering a piece of land.
What you do with any particular site depends on its location, overall climate, micro-climate, soils, slope, exposure, existing vegetation, water, surroundings etc. and on the needs, wants, time and financial resources of the owner/manager, desired outputs and so forth.
Swales, ponds, hugelkultur etc. are mere tools in the toolbox that may or may not be suited to a particular piece of land.

My advice would be to look at/fill out the Permaculture Design Questionnaire http://files.meetup.com/215138/Permaculture%20Design%20Questionnaire.pdf , spend as much time as you can on the land, observe, think, read, plan (not as a linear process, but more like in an iterative fashion). After that you will have a much better idea about what you need to do (or not to do).

5 years ago
Hi Verena,
I would be cautious about mixing sunflowers with other crops as they have allelopathic effects on numerous plant species, inhibiting germination and growth even beyond the current growth cycle.
Google "Helianthus annuus" + allelopathic for articles.

I don't know what sort of climate conditions you are working in (I live somewhere where you can't even grow tomatoes outdoors...) but I would think that tomatoes would shade out carrots. Also their nutrient needs are very different. Tomatoes are heavy feeders, carrots are not.
I always grow tomatoes in trenches filled with well-rotted manure. That'd be way too strong for carrots. If I was doing a row system with the two I'd probably grow basil beside the tomatoes, then a row of French beans, then carrots.
Given that you work in a commercial system, ease of harvest may also be an issue.

5 years ago

Tyler Ludens wrote:..... Not sure who Joe is ...

The late Joe Polaischer.
5 years ago

John Polk wrote:If Sepp had been a total failure in his endeavors, nobody would have even noticed him.
He has had many successes, and all eyes turn to him. It's like painting a target on his back.

The nit-pickers are all looking for the flaw.

Perhaps, we should rename this thread "Sour Grapes".

If it was a case of "sour grapes" wouldn't the "detractors" be giving out stink about Bill, Dave, Toby, Geoff, Skeeter, Joe etc. who have all set up really cool examples, written excellent books and spread the word through their teaching?
5 years ago

paul wheaton wrote:Ute: Sepp Holzer did not invent Huegelkultur.

me: Did Holzer ever say that he invented hugelkultur? Did anybody say that holzer invented hugelkultur?

Ute: No

So, please help me to understand why it was important to bring this up. It seems we are talking about a really difficult and sensitive topic. Difficult enough without complicating the issue with this.

That is a good and thoughtful observation. You are quite right. I brought it up for the same reason Jack made the "kick the wet dog" tongue-in-cheek comment in his superb podcast. It seems to me that just because Holzer says Huegelbeds are good everybody and their granny builds them, whether they are appropriate in a given context or not, whether they justify the labour and expense or not. They are one tool in a toolkit and should be treated as such, not a one-size-fits-all. Mark Harris made a similar observation recently in the long Huegelkultur thread (http://www.permies.com/forums/posts/list/14046#127087)

I admit it, it was a bit of a snipe.

I wish to address many of the other points you have brought up, but my knee jerk reaction is quite similar to my reaction to this point. It could take years to unravel all of this stuff - but it seems like I must be missing the point as to why they are brought up for consideration at all.

At the moment it feels like (and I could be wrong) negativity toward holzer, and a lack of supporting stuff - so there is a bit of scraping the bottom of the barrel and the dressing up tiny things to make them appear bigger than they really are. If that is the case, it seems like a personal issue - not something worthy of a public forum; not something I wish to publish.

I have no 'personal issue' with Sepp, never met him, but - and that is the reason I am contributing to this thread - I know what was going on in the German PC scene. I would not call threats of libel cases and forced retractions "scraping the barrel". I have all the e-mails from said mailing list on my computer and re-read the lot last night to make sure I wasn't exaggerating things. It was hair-raising stuff and at the end the moderators message was basically "think very carefully about what you write here unless you have a lot of money to blow on court cases" and he brought in an iron-clad rule that no one has permission to pass on any of the mails to third parties. So I can't prove this stuff, and you can dismiss it as hearsay, but it is the truth.

The root of this thread is that somebody suggested that holzer was a lessor person. It sounds like that woman had her day in court with holzer and holzer was found to be reasonable and the woman was put in jail for making up such nasty stuff. I find myself in the awkward position of some comments here appearing to slander holzer and then I need to figure out if I am okay with publishing those words.

On evaluation, like the judge, I am leaning toward favoring holzer. And by "leaning" I mean I have ropes attached to the ceiling keeping me from laying on the ground.

The court papers are not public, believe me, I have checked because I would like to know what really went on there. None of us knows except for the affected parties. So in the interest of balance you should consider that Mr. Fiebrig's comment above may be libelous.

Another line of thought:
Let us suppose that that are 100 geniuses that pursue something like permaculture. And they all attempt to share what they have learned. And each one is subjected to fines and abuse for attempting to share what they have learned. 99 of them go silent. What is the personality of the one that is left standing?

Should we be shocked/surprised/offended at this personality?

Again, speaking from the German experience, Holzer did not *share* what he has learned, he never got involved in the Institute, the meetings, the mailing lists; he charged handsomely for every morsel of information. Not that there is anything wrong with making a living with teaching and consultancy.

For every person that accomplishes something great, there are 20 detractors that have accomplished nothing that will point at the one person and complain long and loud.

My guess is that you consider me as a "detractor who has achieved nothing"? Water off a duck's back. I have a nice little 1 hectare PC set-up, 17 years in the making, for self-sufficiency. It's not perfect, never will be, and its changing and evolving all the time. I have learned by reading, doing, making mistakes, and learning from others and have always shared my knowledge and experience willingly and freely. I have had many visitors from around the globe and I'm happy to show anyone around at no charge.
Same goes for a bunch of my German and Austrian fellows who basically just shut up about Sepp because they have better things to do than blow their hard-earned money on solicitors fees.

So I'd say let's agree to differ and move forward, as you say, with good things, produce food and live lightly on this earth.

5 years ago