Grazing Animals, a Key Aspect of Regenerative Agriculture
Animals are a Key aspect when it comes to achieving and maintaining healthy soil in which to grow crops. By urinating and defecating on the land, the animals provide important nourishment for soil microbes.
Also, when perennial grass seed is spread on bare land the cows will trod into the ground. And besides adding manure, the hoof activity helps break down the hard cap on the land.
Animals or animal impact bring about a result, which can turn to turn the hard ground to pasture, and then later to turn it into a savannah, which then best utilizes the rain ration, the energy cycle, the water cycle, and the mineral cycle.
To get the animals to cover and treat the land, the cows to move across the land by placing the hay at one end and the water at the required distances of animal travel. This helps maximize the impact of their hooves on the land, and helps distribute the waste (manure and urine) more evenly across the land.
In short, the idea is to imitate nature as much as possible, which includes the migration of wild herds across the land.
Nature abhors a monoculture. Nature will not allow it … Nature wants many different microbes and plants and animals living in symbiotic relationships with each other.
The only way ranchers and farmers can maintain a monoculture is through the use of the tools the reductionist science provides: chemical fertilizers, pesticides, antibiotics, hormones. The monoculture falls apart when those things are not used.
Industrial farming has unintended consequences and is in direct conflict with nature. What agriculture must do for healthy, nutritious beef is to emulate nature.
No rancher or farmer should sets out to destroy the land purposely. They should all work to do the right thing; growing the best crops they can and manage their livestock well.
The Big Q: What does animal welfare mean?
The Big A: At its essence good animal welfare means that herdsmen create an environment in which the animals can express instinctive natural behavior.
- Cows were born to roam and graze.
- Chickens were born to scratch and peck.
- Hogs were born to root and wallow.
Those are instinctive behaviors. If the animals are deprived of their natural abilities, that is poor animal welfare.
Concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) have changed what people know and expect from a healthy animal. A cow fed on pasture, which is its natural diet, has a lifespan of about 24 years, all without added drugs or vitamins.
Feedlot animals, on the other hand, are typically slaughtered at the age of 17 months, at which point they may weigh in around 1,275 pounds instead of the typical 1,000 lbs of a mature cow.
That is an unnatural and obese creature that would not only fail to survive in nature, it would never happen.
When consumers eat a grass-fed, pastured animal, they are eating a healthy animal in the prime of their life. When they eat that feedlot animal, they are eating an obese creature that is dying of all the diseases of sedentary lifestyle and obesity that kill humans.
The situation is even worse for pigs and chickens, as the smaller the animal, the more intensive the factory farming methods.
Percentage of Organic matter in the soil is a good indicator of quality. The cycles are complex and there are cycles within cycles that work in a symbiotic way.
For example, there are the 3 cycles, as follows:
- Energy cycle: with the Sun, where photosynthesis is used to produce grass that feeds the cows. When Sunlight hits bare earth, it is of no use.
- Carbon cycle: the grass covering can be likened to photosynthesizing tissue that breathes in carbon dioxide, sequestering it in the ground and breathes out O (oxygen), which is critical for animal and human life. By sequestering it in the soil, where it is needed, the plants help remove excess CO2 (carbon dioxide) from the air where it does harm.
- Water cycle: when the soil is hard and degraded, any rain that falls simply runs off and takes topsoil with it. When the soil quality is good, with high amounts of Organic matter, it soaks up the water like a sponge. That not only helps retain water, but also the topsoil. And with the addition of bio-charcoal (bio-char) the entire process is enhanced naturally
Another example of the important role animals serve within the regenerative agriculture model, let’s take goats
A Key reason to keep sheep and goats is to strategically manage vegetation in lieu of toxic herbicides, as they gnaw weeds down to an extremely low level.
The plant species that goats and sheep prefer are different from the ones cattle like. Using the 3 animals in combination allows ranchers and farmers to avoid using herbicides and pesticides on the pastures.
Grazing is the most environmentally regenerative of all methods to maintaining healthy soil, that leads to healthy food, that leads to healthy people.
Over the past 2 generations reductionist science gave farmers and rancher, chemical fertilizers, pesticides, steroids, and antiboitics, lab sience forgot about animal impact.
This new generation is learning of the unintended consequences of industrial farming, and relearning how to use animal impact to enhance the soil, and in doing so provide Real food to consumers.
Have a terrific week.