Spring Hill Farms

  (Newark, Ohio)
Heritage Breed Pastured Pork, Chickens, Grass Fed Beef
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High Grain Prices Mean Alternative Feeds

Picture As feed prices rose as much as 25 percent in the last sixty days around our part of the country I began to contemplate how creative livestock farmers would become to stay profitable.


Typically three things happen:


1) You thin the herd.
2) You hunt for alternative feed sources.
3) You raise prices.

I wasn't surprised when a couple of days ago I saw an article in the LA Times titled "With High Corn Prices, One farmer Copes by Feeding Cows Candy." You can access the article here: Candy Cows.

Now that's pretty creative! He has basically located expired candy and is using it as added calories in the cows diet.

I personally don't have any interest in eating candy fed cows but hey the guy is being transparent and it is a free country.

Which leads me to the next thought:

How else might farmers cope with record high grain prices?

Stale pastries - Not a good choice in my book. Many small hog and cattle farmers use everything from a very small amount to huge portions of this in the animals diet. Ever see a healthy person live on stale donuts? I rest my case.

Restaurant Waste - This requires a license in many states and must be cooked to reduce the chance of disease spread, trichinosis etc. It can be everything from plate scrapings to unused or dated product. Like stale donuts, I personally would not use this type of feed or purchase meats from those who do.

Grocery Store Dumpsters and/or Bad Produce - This is the typical "dated product" that if handled properly is still fine for consumption. Think milk or yogurt that is one day past due. The trouble with this (in my opinion of course) is that most of what is available is conventional foods that I try to avoid myself. So why feed it to my livestock?

You might be saying "yeah but what about vegetable produce David? Surely that's okay..."

Consider this: Much of the produce in conventional stores is laden with pesticide residue. Who is going to haul a load of have rotten produce home and wash it before giving it to the pigs? Some produce, with more to come on line, is now genetically modified.

Distiller Grains - This is the spent grains from breweries. Possibly one of the better choices as far as finding waste products for alternatives feed sources. I have casually kept my eye open for these but they are wet when you get them so it can become more of a labor and storage issue than it is worth to me. For me this one would be dependent on where they came from and what they consisted of.

Dairy Waste - This can come from the actual dairy its self or maybe a cheese factory etc. I classify these as I do distiller grains. They could be a good source or maybe not depends on who, where, when, and how.

I'm sure there are some others I'm forgetting but I think these are the main sources of alternative feeds in the waste category. 

In closing I'll say I think the best alternative feeding strategies are what we incorporate here at Spring Hill Farms. We grow forages that the livestock can thrive on to help take the place of grain in their diet. In some cases we grow the grain vs buy it.

Don't get me wrong the high cost of grain and other production inputs are being felt here also. But I'm not heading to the grocery store dumpster for hog feed anytime soon.....or ever.

Until next time...
 
 

Full Spectrum Lighting for Goats, Pigs, and Chickens

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Full Spectrum Bulb
I first heard of full spectrum lighting several years ago. Full spectrum lights are the closest light to natural sunlight available. It got me to thinking about how it would effect livestock during the long days of winter here in Ohio.

The main thing I was pondering was would it make a difference in piglets that are born in the early winter? I kept researching and came to the conclusion it would. Here is what one study indicated.




Scientists have discovered a new receptor in the eye that, among other things, monitors your biological clocks.

Apart from the other photoreceptors in your eye that allow you to see, this "third eye" responds differently to light by sending signals to your brain's hypothalamus, thus regulating your production of melatonin, which in turn controls your body's circadian rhythms.

Researchers experimented with lamps emitting different wavelengths of light on workers toiling in the high-stress environment on one floor of a health insurance call center. In comparison to co-workers on other floors, they felt more alert, and the quality of their work improved too. The Independent September 26, 2006

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Tamworth Pigs in the Sun
Since I'm always striving to mimic nature, this new technology of full spectrum lighting seemed like a good fit for our farm. I first bought some bulbs from BlueMax Lighting(tm) and used them in my home.

I immediately noticed that after getting up in the morning and sitting under the full spectrum lighting I felt in a better mood. That was enough to convince my wife! Seriously, the only way I can describe it is I felt much like I do when I get up and go out on the deck and have a cup of coffee on a bright sunny morning. You start remarking how nice of a day it's going to be and get motivated to "get something done". Another reason my wife was convinced I should keep them!

They are a much whiter light than the yellow light bulbs we were using. Even though the evidence I experienced was anecdotal, I didn't need anymore convincing that there was something to this full spectrum lighting.

Some other benefits that are cited by proponents of full spectrum lighting is:

  • Improved mood

  • Enhanced mental awareness, concentration and productivity ...

  • Superior visual clarity and color perception ...

  • Better sleep ...

  • Super-charged immune system ...

  • More energy ...

  • Reduced eye strain and fatigue with a glare-free and comfortable reading environment ...

  • Greater learning ability and intelligence ...
Whether or not it actually has all these benefits, I'll leave up to you to decide.

My pigs haven't told me they're in a good mood or feel like they have less eye strain, but I can tell you this, it's another weapon in my arsenal to keep our new piglets healthy and growing when they are born in the dead of winter or when the days are getting short.

Full spectrum lighting is also a good way to keep milk production up with our goats. This is an area where you need to be careful. If you introduce full spectrum lighting too early in the Fall as days get shorter, you're goats may not breed. The shorter day for seasonal breeding goats is what triggers reproduction.

I wait until I'm sure they are bred and then use the lights.

Something else I've learned is full spectrum lighting in the hen house will definitely keep our laying hens going strong when they would typically stop laying eggs.

Years ago the farmer's wife would mix up hot mash to help keep the hens laying through the cold winter. We now know that it's more the deprivation of light that slows or even stops egg production. Chickens need between 14 and 16 hours of light. I set mine on a timer so they get light earlier in the morning and then later at night. Light also effects the molting period of chickens. It's a natural function of chickens to molt so we allow our chickens to molt and egg production ceases at that time to allow the hens to recuperate.

So if your hens are getting sluggish put some full spectrum bulbs in the hen house and watch what happens.

If you or your spouse are in the winter doldrums put some in the house too! (that won't help the egg layers by the way)

So to sum this one up, try some full spectrum lighting where you think you need it most and see what happens for yourself!

Until next time....
 
 
 

Raw Goat's Milk Great for the Soil

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Raw Goats Milk
When I first began to consider getting goats I had three reasons.

  1. I believe raw milk to be a great health food for my family.

  2. I wanted to supplement the pigs and chickens diet with raw milk.

  3. I had read some very interesting research on raw milk and soil fertility.
I first read an article in Acres USA about how a farmer from Nebraska had started dumping milk on his fields. It didn't start out as a way to build soil health but he began to notice several results from dumping the raw milk.

The farmer, David Wetzel, watched as his cows would make a beeline for the grass that had been sprayed with raw milk.

He also noticed that the grass appeared greener and seemed to grow faster.

The soil was softer and more porous. He discovered this when he had a company come to do soil testing on his property. The temperature was below zero and the only place they could probe the ground was in the fields he had dumped raw milk.

Through a chain of events he had his local Ag extension agent put together some tests to see if they could determine exactly what the results were from dumping the milk on the fields.

After 45 days the test plots grew 1,100 more pounds of grass than the plots that were not treated with milk which was a 26 percent increase in yield.

The raw milk treated plots were 18 percent softer than the untreated as determined by compaction tests. That means the soil is more porous - it had a greater ability to absorb and hold water. The grass also appeared healthier and had fewer lesions and yellow discoloration. 

So What is happening?

It seems as though the milk is providing food for the bacteria, fungi, protozoa and nematodes that teem inside a healthy soil.

Raw milk is a veritable stew of protein and sugar complexes that microbes need for growth. Additionally, raw milk is one of the best sources of vitamin B found in nature and it brims with enzymes that can break down food for microbes and plants. Many farmers have heedlessly scorched microbe activity in their pastures with years of tillage, chemical use and overgrazing.  

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Oberhasli Dairy Goat

So when we were thinking of purchasing goats for the farm, an added benefit was the raw milk can be a great soil booster!

I have a sprayer tank that I can use on the back of the ATV. I bought a nozzle from Northern Hydraulics that sprays a 16 feet wide pattern which is what I need instead of trying to get a boom type sprayer through the small wooded pastures we have.

According to what I have read the optimum mixture would be 17 gallons of water to 3 gallons of milk for a total of 20 gallons per acre.

The raw milk can be sprayed on tilled soil or directly on the plants with seemingly the same effect.

I plan to start this in the Spring and hope to report the effects. In poking around the net I have read numerous testimonies that people think it is really helping their fields, gardens, and plants.

I'll keep you posted....


 
 

Meet the Goats

I thought it was high time I introduce you to the goats! Meet  Milkyway and Lucy.

Oberhasli Goats 

They are Purebred Oberhasli dairy goats. I decided some time ago after researching dairy goats that we would go with the Oberhasli breed.

There are several reasons I decided on Oberhasli but at the top of the list is they are listed on the ALBC website as "recovering".

Although as a whole, the breed is recovering in the US, these numbers include the American Oberhasli which is a Purebred Oberhasli buck bred to an Alpine doe. (American Oberhasli look exactly the same so the paperwork is the only way to tell.)

Then the offspring is bred to a Purebred Oberhasli. This continues for I believe three generations and then that generation can be registered as an American Oberhasli.

Purebred Oberhasli on the other hand, can be traced back to Switzerland with no Alpine influence.

Purebreds are actually in decline in the US since American Oberhasli are readily available to breeders and the Purebreds are harder to find.

We are currently milking two does and have purchased a buck so next Spring should find us with more Purebred Oberhasli goats!

Another reason I went with Oberhasli is they have a good reputation for milk that is very close to cows milk in taste. My family can't tell a difference in the goat milk and whole cows milk from the store.

Two milking does provide way more milk than we can drink so the pigs and chickens are enjoying the milk as well. The whole farm is enjoying all the health benefits of raw milk!

 
 

Saturated Fat and Heart Disease - No Link a New Study Says

A new analysis which used the results of 21 previous studies,found no evidence between people's risk of heart disease and their intake of saturated fat. 

This is the fat found found mainly in animal fats and dairy. The press and medical experts have condemned it for years but this new information may shed some light on the subject.

 Many times the "western diet" is described as one high in red meat and saturated fat. But it's also high in processed foods and other highly refined carbohydrates.

 

Read the whole story here

 

 

Until next time...

 
 
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