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Tavascarow



Joined: 06 Aug 2006
Posts: 8407
Location: South Cornwall
PostPosted: Sat Feb 06, 16 12:28 pm    Post subject:  Reply with quote    

I know in instances like yours the ground couldn't be used for anything other than grazing & you are providing an environmental service at the same time, which is why I'm supportive.
But the majority of beef production involves large amounts of land that could be used to produce more calories for less.
Putting veganism aside, to feed the world in the future we also need to consider conversion rates.
Pork & poultry, although I deplore the methods by which they are kept have conversion rates vastly greater than beef.
With poultry coming in at 2 to 1 & beef at its best at 15 to 1 & where only poorer feedstock is available nearer 50 to 1.
I know there's a big difference between cereal feed & poor fodder but land & water demand are also factors to consider for the future.
I doubt you next to that river will ever need to consider water shortage (quite the contrary) but there are many areas of the world where it is a consideration.
Being able to produce more protein on less land with less water input should be a consideration.

Rob R



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 31902
Location: York
PostPosted: Sat Feb 06, 16 1:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Funnily enough, I considered that option - I've had so much moral support given to me that I thought we could build some intensive chicken sheds and use the cattle up to keep up the greenwash.

There are lots of factors to consider and 'efficiency' is one of those that so often is looked at only in terms of one parameter at a time. Chickens are efficient converters of grain to protein when kept in a certain way, but they don't do much to increase soil organic matter, which in turn is important for water retention... Cattle aren't particularly 'efficient' at converting grass into food, but they can convert it into soil organic matter more efficiently, which then benefits wildlife too.

It's much more efficient to stack farming systems and wildlife together for mutual benefit, as George seemed to be suggesting in his evidence. It's still hard to justify annual cultivation on any level though, the only positive thing that efficiently does is to increase human food production in the short term.

Right at the moment I'm being deafened by starlings in the poplar tree outside...

Tavascarow



Joined: 06 Aug 2006
Posts: 8407
Location: South Cornwall
PostPosted: Sat Feb 06, 16 5:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Rob R wrote:
Chickens are efficient converters of grain to protein when kept in a certain way, but they don't do much to increase soil organic matter, which in turn is important for water retention... Cattle aren't particularly 'efficient' at converting grass into food, but they can convert it into soil organic matter more efficiently, which then benefits wildlife too.

That's a fair point & I take it on board.
Although the methods used play a major part as well IMHO.
Wouldn't chicken kept on deep, deep litter not produce large amounts of compostable organic matter?
Likewise pigs? (I know you kept yours that way when you had them).
& in both cases no doubt happier & healthier animals in the process.
& are cattle as efficient at increasing soil organic matter if zero grazed on maize silage, & kept on slatted floors, with all their droppings going to a slurry tank?
Seeing the amounts of soil washing into the local stream from the maize fields today I doubt it.

Mistress Rose



Joined: 21 Jul 2011
Posts: 10818

PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 16 9:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I think you have answered your own questions Tavascarow. It depends on how you keep your animals. The most efficient in terms of conversion is not the best way for the animals and certainly not the best way for the soil. In cases like Robs, there is no other sensible use for the land than grazing, and it does the land a lot of good too. There are other cases where the ground is too steep, too stony, or the area too bleak to grow crops.

Otherwise, free range chickens and pigs probably do far more for the land with minimum chemical input, both herbicide and fertiliser, and as part of a rotation can be very beneficial. They don't give the best conversion rate that way, but looking at all inputs and outputs it may still add up better.

Tavascarow



Joined: 06 Aug 2006
Posts: 8407
Location: South Cornwall
PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 16 10:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

There are many instances like Robs where a farmer is not only producing food but also providing a service through environment management.
One could say all traditional farming did similar at one time.

But in our lifetimes we have seen agriculture become what IMHO is the most destructive environmental force after war.
The damage it does not only goes unpunished but is supported through subsidy, & the average person is oblivious to how they are impacting by supporting said.
Even Vegans with their higher than high moral stance support industrial agriculture that pushes species towards extinction.
Eating & drinking less of something (meat & dairy) shouldn't be ridiculed, but at the same time we should be showing the alternative can be equally destructive.

Rob R



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 31902
Location: York
PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 16 10:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Tavascarow wrote:

Eating & drinking less of something (meat & dairy) shouldn't be ridiculed, but at the same time we should be showing the alternative can be equally destructive.


It should be if the stated aims for eating less are the direct opposit of the outcomes. Vegans who support higher welfare & organic farming tend to say that this is because not everyone will go vegan overnight so they support less damaging/environmentally positive systems. The same can be said for eating less - not everyone is going to do it overnight so the people who do make the switch over to supporting my type of farming should be encouraged to eat more, at least in the short term, so that the sector survives and grows to become a credible force that can oppose more intensive methods. As it is the eat less message is pushing as many, if not more, people over to intensive arable which threatens our wetlands as much as, if not more than, our intensive livestock.

If I produce meat as, basically, a hobby, selling small amounts for a lot of work, no self respecting intensive producer is going to think about making the change to a more holistic approach. But if I earn enough money to invest in new cattle sheds with more space for the stock and spend less money on fert & diesel he's going to start thinking 'hang on a minute...'.

Rob R



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 31902
Location: York
PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 16 11:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Tavascarow wrote:
Rob R wrote:
Chickens are efficient converters of grain to protein when kept in a certain way, but they don't do much to increase soil organic matter, which in turn is important for water retention... Cattle aren't particularly 'efficient' at converting grass into food, but they can convert it into soil organic matter more efficiently, which then benefits wildlife too.

That's a fair point & I take it on board.
Although the methods used play a major part as well IMHO.
Wouldn't chicken kept on deep, deep litter not produce large amounts of compostable organic matter?
Likewise pigs? (I know you kept yours that way when you had them).
& in both cases no doubt happier & healthier animals in the process.


The main reason I gave up pigs was that they didn't really fit into my grass system, the land is too heavy and they rely heavily on cultivation for their feed. Also a large proportion of the industry has now moved away from slats and a large number of pigs on the supermarket shelves are now finished in straw yards, from both indoor and outdoor bred herds.

I now think pork (and poultry) should be a niche meat that predominately uses by-products from the human food chain. I am right behind any attempt to encourage people to eat less pork or poultry, but the 'eat less meat' doesn't differentiate, which leads to people making the wrong decisions (often choosing poultry because it's perceived to be healthier, and cutting out beef). However, pigs can add carbon from straw when deep bedded, but then so can cattle. The difference being that cattle are better at self harvesting from a permaculture growing set-up, whereas pig require post-harvest cultivation. Poultry, too, have their niche, but it isn't necessarily in adding carbon. The advantage of cattle is that they graze the good stuff and trample the bad so the carbon rich growth is in contact with the soil and mulching.

Tavascarow wrote:
& are cattle as efficient at increasing soil organic matter if zero grazed on maize silage, & kept on slatted floors, with all their droppings going to a slurry tank?
Seeing the amounts of soil washing into the local stream from the maize fields today I doubt it.


Undoubtedly not - I don't like the way slurry dominates on dairy farms but can see why it's used. The Environment Agency deserve some criticism in that respect - when we applied for planning for the new cattle shed we put in for concrete with drains for excess fluid and washings. The EA planning liason dept wanted us to install a slurry tank rather than using the septic tank & reedbed. Meanwhile people who put in for planning with just a hardcore floor and no drains are passed easily - it seems leaching p*** around a building is fine, as long as you don't attempt to channel it in any one direction. Slurry is more 'efficient' though in the amount of energy used to move it around, and that's why it's taken off.

Hairyloon



Joined: 20 Nov 2008
Posts: 15237
Location: Today I are mostly being in Yorkshire.
PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 16 11:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Tavascarow wrote:
I doubt bugs count when you're a vegan.

I tried to discuss this with some not so long back, but they said I was being deliberately provocative.

dpack



Joined: 02 Jul 2005
Posts: 35403
Location: yes
PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 16 5:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

a slippery slope that seems vaguely relevant here even if it would fit in a few other places

i rather like the george orwell quote

Rob R



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 31902
Location: York
PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 16 5:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

dpack wrote:

i rather like the george orwell quote


so true


We had a locally produced handmade artisan pie last night made from grassfed Dexter at 5.50. Even I was into the idea that it was expensive, until I looked at the empty aluminium tray on the side in the kitchen. It reminded me of the aftermath of a chinese takeaway and suddenly the pie looked cheap.

Rob R



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 31902
Location: York
PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 16 7:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Hairyloon wrote:
Tavascarow wrote:
I doubt bugs count when you're a vegan.

I tried to discuss this with some not so long back, but they said I was being deliberately provocative.


That's code for having uncovered a flaw in their plan.

Mistress Rose



Joined: 21 Jul 2011
Posts: 10818

PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 16 7:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

We had a shop like that round here many years ago, for about 6 months. It closed because the stuff they sold was so appalling. It was before I was grown up, but I do remember the washing up liquid was a danger to the hands.

I would be willing to buy a good pie for a price like that, but only if I really liked it. Sadly, even artisan pie makers usually use too much salt for me.

HL, I don't think you were being provocative, but of course it depends on how you were saying it.

The farm down the road from the woods used to keep cattle in a shed during the winter. I don't know what they fed them on, but it could have been their own hay. They had a slurry pit, and used to put it on the fields in the spring. They had a one way run round the roads, so it was better to go the same way as the tractors. You don't want to argue with a tractor and muck spreader on a mission.

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