Excerpt: When we look at feeding animals as a function, we need to see it in that lens of finding multiple elements or systems to support it. Relying solely on outside inputs from monoculture grain production is analogous to erosion; a leak in the system. We make our designs more robust through using varying strata of plants that bring forth fodder crops for animals at different times of the year. This time and plant stacking principle breeds redundancy through diversifying the diet and leaning away from the industrial inputs. It requires us to be creative, to design from not just information, but also imagination. The infinite complexity of design reflecting the pattern of animal migrations to find a plethora of food sources at varying times of the years is indeed a worthwhile venture.
Furthermore, J. Russel Smith wrote his seminal book entitled Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture in 1929, which was paramount in the formation of Permaculture itself. He was writing at a time when the dust bowl was raging and rivers muddied with massive erosion becoming the norm year after year. Nearly 100 years ago, he credited this disturbance to annual agriculture for grain production with a focus on feeding animals. His remedy was to feed animals with tree crops as well as grain, but the grain being only a small portion of their diet. Humanity only made the situation worst with the advent of the Confined Animal Feed Operations (CAFO’s) as grain became even more central to raising animals for meat, eggs, fiber, and dairy. The production of grain and concentration of animals has been catastrophic for the animals, the environment, and humanity. Yes it makes meat cheap, but concentrates manures, relies on monocultures, erodes soils, poisons waterways, decreases biodiversity, and gives the animals themselves sickening ways to live, literally and figuratively. They are so sick they are pumped with growth hormones and antibiotics making antibiotic resistant superbugs. In fact, a recent report on CNN (Nov 2018) stated 33,000 people a year die of these bugs in Europe alone. https://m.cnn.com/en/article/h_bd22a28dddb0e052cb545950d6f213f1
In all honestly, it’s almost impossible to eliminate grain inputs with domesticated animals but if you can reduce that dramatically with tree crops and insect farming, you are sure to save money and better the environment. Fodder crops come in a variety of forms and each animal, and even breeds, accept different fodders. A functional analysis can be expanded beyond just saying one of the needs is food. Write down what all the foods are that an animal will accept and design your way into a beneficial relationship with the animals, the systems in place, and the environment. Thus the list below will be general but does allow for further consideration in your permaculture designs. Fortunately, even if you don’t keep domesticated livestock, your local wildlife (if there is any) also often greatly benefits from tree crops like mulberries or burr oak trees.
Here is a video that talks about pollarding trees to produce fodder for animals--in this case to make what the video refers to as tree hay. Really interesting and provides multiple functions and benefits to the animals.
Do you want to work with nature to grow your own food and build a natural life? Check out Wild Homesteading's thread on permies to get started.
Evacuate the building! Here, take this tiny ad with you:
Heat your home with the twigs that naturally fall of the trees in your yard