Spring Hill Farms

  (Newark, Ohio)
Heritage Breed Pastured Pork, Chickens, Grass Fed Beef
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A Secret Ingredient for your Water Trough

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Clean Water

Water. A crucial element of life. We spend hundreds even thousands of dollars to ensure we have clean pure water for ourselves and our families. It makes up 75% of our bodies.

What about our livestock?  How clean is the water you provide for your animals?

In the past I've been guilty of looking into a water trough and thinking "wow that might need a good cleaning!"



Hogs are constantly washing their noses off in the water and dropping feed into the trough. If left unattended it's not long before you'll have some sort of anaerobic bacteria growing in the water.

This spells trouble for livestock. A good question to ask yourself is "would I drink out of that?"  

One of the major battles in keeping any type of farm animal healthy and growing is managing the "bad bacteria" levels in the animals system.  This is one of the reasons that sub-therapeutic antibiotics are used so heavily in modern agriculture. They help keep the animal healthy and promote growth through the reduced bacterial load in the animal's gut.

Of course antibiotic over-use is fraught with side effects. Two that come to mind are residues in the meat and manure and they wipe out most of the good bacteria with the bad.

I posted about how we introduce good bacteria into our animal's system here.  In this post I only gave a part of our system to manage bacteria...how to introduce new good bacteria.

Let me pause here and say I'm not a veterinarian nor am I a chemist. Please study out these concepts for yourself and make your own conclusions based on your study of the facts.

If all we ever do is kill bad bacteria, as in the case of antibiotics, we end up with a very compromised immune system. So much so that if the antibiotics are stopped there is a huge risk of illness until the good bacteria is re-established. If you are taking antibiotics personally you might want read the previous post.

Aerobic versus Anaerobic

Good bacteria is aerobic. In other words, they flourish in high oxygen environments.

Bad bacteria is anaerobic and cannot survive in the presence of oxygen.

So, when we study the natural order of things we find laws at work to to help us keep our animals healthy. The closer we can mimic nature the better. That's the essence of natural farming.


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Food Grade Peroxide

I was first introduced to the idea of using hydrogen peroxide (H202) for something other than dumping it on a superficial wound more than 20 years ago.

Peroxide is water with an extra oxygen molecule attached to it. H202 - notice the extra 2? Now think back to our aerobic vs anaerobic bacterias.

What if we could foster an environment that encourages the growth of good oxygen loving bacteria and discourage bad oxygen hating bacteria?

Hydrogen peroxide has been touted to cure almost everything known to man. Does it work? I have no idea. I encourage you to study for your self and draw your own conclusions.

Remember the watering trough way back in the beginning of this post? Let's go back there.

When we need to clean and disinfect things around here such as watering and feeding equipment we wash it with a solution of peroxide.

Most folks would stop there. It's clean, now put some fresh water in and go about your business.

We hopefully killed all the bad bacteria in the watering trough but what if we could encourage it to stay dead and encourage the growth of good bacteria if there is any present?

That's where hydrogen peroxide comes in. We use a solution of 35% food grade and add a tiny amount to all our watering troughs on a regular basis. (Roughly 25-30 ppm)

A word of caution here: peroxide in concentrated amounts is caustic and will take the hide off your fingers on anything else you dump/spill it on.

Using peroxide as a water treatment is not new and you can find studies around the net on both poultry and swine.

Here's a link to a site about well water and hydrogen peroxide.

Other sites have information about health benefits from hydrogen peroxide.

Here are some of the claims.

When hydrogen peroxide has been used for cattle, an increase in milk production and an increase in butterfat content have been reported. Farmers have also reported less mastitis in their herds. Hog farmers have reported their hogs using less feed and a shorter growing time (as much as 30 days less). Turkey and chicken growers reported increased weight per bird using less feed. A man in Wisconsin said he has had the best reproduction rate of his buffalo by using hydrogen peroxide in their drinking water.

Some animal research indicates that when hydrogen peroxide is given orally, it combines with iron and small amounts of vitamin C in the stomach and creates hydroxyl radicals. The rule of thumb is adding 8 oz. to 10 oz. of 35% hydrogen peroxide to 1000 gallons water. Chickens and cows have remained healthy by using 8 ounces of 35% Food Grade hydrogen peroxide in 1,000 gallons of drinking water @ 30 ppm. Hydrogen peroxide application into well water, or city water can best be accomplished by a metering device / injector, which keeps the application more constant and thorough, although manual application works just as well. If you do not have an metering device, start out by using 1 teaspoon of 35% hydrogen peroxide in the animal's drinking water. This same ratio is used for all farm animals: cows, pigs, poultry, sheep, goats, rabbits, birds, etc. http://www.drinkh2o2.com

While I believe hydrogen peroxide is working on our farm as another way to keep all our livestock healthy, I can only tell you our experiences here at Spring Hill Farms.

Study it, try it, and make your own judgment.

Until next time....

 

 
 

Natural ways to keep your pigs, goats and other stock parasite free

PictureIn my last post I discussed why we don't use chemical wormers. In case you missed it, you can read it here.

So naturally the question arises so what do you use to combat parasite loads in your livestock?

For us at Spring Hill Farms it is a three pronged approach.

1. We use several natural wormers.
2. We practice rotational grazing.
3. We breed for parasite resistance.

Let's talk about breeding for parasite resistance. In my opinion much of the livestock in America has been genetically developed for many traits but few of them have anything to do with sustainable farming.

For instance a major trait in pork production has been to reduce the fat content and a campaign was started to market pork as "the other white meat."

The show circuit for pigs focuses on fitting them to please the latest whims of the judges. The same for goats, dairy cows, beef cows etc.

The sustainable farmer has an entirely different set of goals. We look for several traits in our stock that are necessary for a profitable operation. One of them being all around low maintenance. Or as I like to say 'we breed tough animals.'

That doesn't mean we abuse them, it means we look for stock that has a lot of good old fashion instincts that animals should have.

Breeding for resistance to parasites means keeping a close eye on your stock and employing every method you know to use to keep them healthy without resorting to chemical wormers.

When you find animals that can't cut it you cull them. Or alternatively, you assist them as little as possible with chemical inputs with the goal of weaning them off.

Pigs are much easier than other types of livestock because of the amount of animals you can work with. Ten or so pigs in a litter and two litters per year can give you a lot animals to work with.

As one fellow says breed the best and eat the rest. The goal is to produce offspring that need less help and doing this each generation will eventually get you some tough parasite resistant animals.

It's took us about five years before we really saw good positive results with pigs. I think with goats unless you have a large herd it will take much longer.

My experience with dairy goats are they can be fragile animals. Which I think is in some part their nature, and in some part breeders who have never really bred for traits that the low input, sustainable, natural farmer finds important.

We went with Purebred Oberhasli because I felt they fit our farm model. Now can we breed the traits we want? Time will tell.

One of the positives we have found Hoeggers goat supply has an all natural wormer that is working well.

From Hoegger website: The original, all natural, herbal wormer is compounded especially for goats. This wormer contains no artificial chemicals and is non-toxic and non-sickening. Safe for kids & pregnant does. No milk dumping or withdrawal time for slaughter. 200 doses in every pound of wormer.

Dosage for mature goats is 1-1/2 tsp. weekly.

Ingredients: Worm Wood, Gentian, Fennel, Psyllium, & Quassia

Another area we focus heavily on is rotating pasture. We try to keep pigs on a pasture no longer than three weeks and two and a half is better. Once we move them off we run pastured poultry across the field and then let it rest for five to six weeks.

Sunshine and time is the best way to break parasite cycles on your farm. If you are constantly exposing your stock to parasites it will be tough to keep them from becoming over loaded and in need of treatment.

For goats that means keep them from grazing off the ground. Have plenty of high weeds and browse for them to eat up and away from parasites. Never feed hay on the ground or use feed bowls that sit on the ground.

A product we have used with great success is Perma Guard, which is a brand name for Diatomaceous Earth. While there are those who swear by Diatomaceous Earth  and those who say it's total bunk, we have found it a good piece of the puzzle in our fight against parasites.

The key is to use it constantly. We mix it in our feed for pigs and a couple table spoons a day in the goat's feed when they are on the milk stand.

Another product we use on pigs is garlic. Besides being a natural wormer, garlic is also a good broad base anti-viral. This something we will use on breeding stock rather than growing pigs.

There is a product on the market that is called garlic barrier which is for sheep and possibly goats but I wonder about off tasting milk in dairy animals.

Crystal Creek
also sells a wormer we have used for pigs with good results. Another I have not tried but have heard some good comments is Verm-X.

The bottom line is we have many choices other than conventional chemical wormers.

Folks have said they think that some of these natural products are too expensive. I say looking for the cheapest way to raise livestock is one reason agriculture is in it's current state.. You can't shortcut quality.

As with all forms of natural or organic farming, it takes more management than inputs to keep the farm healthy, happy, and profitable.

Till next time...

 
 

Tamworth Pigs and Clabbered Milk

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Almost gone and gettin' full
80% of our immune system resides in our gastrointestinal tract, which houses 100 trillion bacteria—about two to three pounds worth of bacteria!

Expert natural health folks will tell you optimum levels of bacteria would 85% good bacteria and 15% bad.

What about pigs? Pigs are very similar to humans in there digestive system. It stands to reason if good bacteria is needed for optimum human health than it's needed for optimum pig health.

Good bacterial inputs are typically called probiotics. They are the opposite of antibiotics.

The big guys regularly dose their hogs with sub-therapeutic antibiotics to virtually kill all types of bacteria good and bad.

This keeps the animal healthier (supposedly) and optimizes growth. The major problem of course is the over use of them is resulting in resistance to antibiotics when we need them.

You can read some very solid research here on the resistant pathogens that are direct result of factory farms.    

So....let's just say that we at Spring Hill Farms do not want to use sub-therapeutic antibiotics for our livestock.

We want to use probiotics to build up the good bacteria to the point that it holds in check, or even stamps out bad bacteria in the animals system.

Probiotics are great for:

  • The proper development of your immune system

  • Protection against over-growth of other microorganisms that could cause disease

  • Digestion of food and absorption of nutrients
One of the ways we build up good bacteria in our pigs and chickens is by feeding them clabbered milk.

Traditionally, clabbered milk is made by allowing raw milk to stand until it has thickened, a process which takes 24-48 hours. The milk is also typically kept warm, encouraging the growth of beneficial bacteria. As it thickens, the acidity of the milk increases, preventing the growth of harmful bacteria and creating a very distinctive tang which many people greatly enjoy. Pigs practically kill for it!

That was one of the plans when we bought our Oberhasli goats. Make clabbered milk to feed the pigs and chickens to keep them healthy and vigorous so we don't need antibiotics or other pharmaceuticals to keep them healthy.

It works great and the pigs and chickens both really enjoy it!

This is just another way we are striving to work with the animals immune system, not prop it up with outside inputs.

till next time!
 
 

Why Eat Local?

Eating food that was sustainably raised is like eating a tomato out of your garden verses buying a tomato at your local mega grocery. It looks like a tomato, well sort of, but the taste is more like cardboard. There is plenty of crunch, plenty of texture, but almost no taste. No taste usually means very little nutritional value.

How can you take something like a tomato and ruin it? The same way you can take a pig and raise it in a way that isn't sustainable or natural and end up with something that looks like pork but tastes like, you guessed it, cardboard! Most factory farm "premium pork" tastes like the brine and chemicals used to enhance the flavor.

According to ATTRA, sustainable agriculture follows the principles of nature to develop systems for raising crops and livestock that are, like nature, self-sustaining. I agree.

If you come to my farm I'm not going to give you my long passionate talk about the evils of big business agriculture and how we need to return to a more sustainable model. I'm going to give you a pork chop, unless you'd rather try our pasture raised chicken.

I've learned that once you taste and see that sustainably-raised food is superior to factory-farmed products, you will ask me where to get food that tastes so good. And I'll gladly tell you.

Find a sustainable farm practice in your area and see what they offer. You will be convinced that food produced according to nature tastes better because it is better . It's healthier, environmentally friendly, and it stimulates the local economy. As the old saying goes, "The proof of the pork is in the eating."

 If you're around our neck of the woods, we hope you'll try us at Spring Hill Farms

 

Until next time...

 
 
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