raising livestock ecologically

13 years ago

Conventional livestock raising methods have been incredibly environmentally destructive with soil erosion, deforestation, large portions of agriculture dedicated to growing feed, extermination of billions of predators to protect free ranging livestock, infiltration of non-native plant species and on and on. These costs to our environment and health are irrelevant because private industries don't pay them. We do with our destroyed health and environment. IsnÂt there a better way to raise livestock than continuously warring with nature? Cattle grazing alone has caused more environmental destruction than lumbering and mining combined. If it is necessary to exterminate millions of predators to protect livestock maybe livestock shouldnÂt be allowed to roam around. Should millions of acres of the country be fenced off to the rest of us only to be ruined by ranching? Grazing animals coexisted with predators just fine before the white man decided to disrupt everything for profit. What is the permaculture method of raising livestock ecologically? Also, I know that permaculture methods are effective at growing food for families or small communities, but how is permaculture used to raise enough food to feed millions of people. How can permaculture replace large scale farming? Thank you.

Comments (8)

  • Belgianpup
    13 years ago

    Check out Joel Salatin's books on environmentally sustainable beef and chicken production. Instead of just turning out a bunch of cows onto a pasture and letting them destroy it, he rotates his cattle through a series of pastures, leaving them in one area only for a few days to a week, depending on what the land can handle and no more. Then he runs chickens after the cattle. The chickens turn over the cattle manure, spread it out, and pick out the grubs and parasites, helping to break the parasite cycle in the cattle. Then he moves the chickens out and lets the pasture recuperate.

    google 'joel salatin books' and you'll find them. His books are in the library system; if your local library doesn't them (or all of them), request them though an interlibrary loan. Good info, easily understood, very readable.

    There is also a longtime magazine called AcresU.S.A. that fosters ecologically sound farming practices, and they also have a very nice book list. I believe you can request a sample issue of the magazine and you'll also get their book catalog.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Acres U.S.A. Magazine

  • gardenlen
    13 years ago


    "How can permaculture replace large scale farming? Thank you."

    permaculture doesn't realy replace anything it is more a means to and end it is a whole array of sustainable practises that can be used to attain that end.

    ok if you put it like you did "but how is permaculture used to raise enough food to feed millions of people". then farmers and communities need to work together so that farmers can feed their communitities, so instead of looking at a whole big picture and then seeing insurmountable issues look at the smaller pictures that we all live in communitites and that is where food production should take place as it did basically back in the 40's and 50's over here.

    with the reliance on fossil fuels to move our produce vast distances across our countries and to reduce the "food miles" factor, and importantly to keep food prices so we the community can afford to eat then the farmers are going to need to be a whole lot closer to their customers hey?

    farmers lived and grew vege's etc.,. in our communities (so we need to go back the the past in order to move forward sustainably that is).

    the grazing hybrid animals factor is a major factor, as farmers wants/needs to produce more and more meat product they graze land unsustainably that is no consideration to the grazing rate of the land if they need more grazing they simply push down more habitat.

    if we utilised native grazing animals as our source of meat and produced what was needed for our communities by that i mean all communitities across the globe achieving this target, (there are other issue in there but they surely need to be addressed?) then grazing native animals is more sustainable as they do well enough within the habitat as it is. the larger grazing animals sheep and beef mainly are the root cause of a lot of land degerdation, is how i see it.

    and because land is over grazed then come the need to grow feed for them so this then causes yet even more habitat destruction and land degredation. dunno if we as communitites get real about this we may have to remove sheep and beef from our diets and settle for smaller critters like rabbits and chooks for our meat needs if eating native animals is so undesirable, these animals are less demanding on the habitat.

    grazing is a double edged sword hey?


    Here is a link that might be useful: len's garden page

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  • Belgianpup
    13 years ago

    You're right, Len. If most of our foods were grown locally, there would likely be more of a direct connection between the farmer and the consumer. Right now, the farmer gets just a tiny percentage of the purchase price of the food he grows. Cut out most of the transport costs (going up daily) and several of the middle men, and it is likely that our food costs would go down, and the farmers' incomes would go up, which would be a nice incentive to keep good farmers farming.

    Larger food animals can be raising perfectly well on pasture alone, and can be grazed on land that isn't good enough for farming. But the amount of grazing MUST be controlled, and soil and pasture improvements are necessary.

    Right now, we are paying an exhorbitant cost for lousy food. And we are paying (and will continue to pay) for all the soil/land degradation caused by overgrazing and chemical farming. Some farmers are gradually coming around to the realization that they were sold a real bill of goods by the Feds and their partners, the chemical companies. It has taken over half a century for farmers to realize that there aren't any shortcuts. Farming is one of those businesses where you have to do it right (in all respects), or you're going under, and your family farm will be sucked up by a corporation. Farms in the Orients have lasted forty centuries -- farms in America last only about forty years.


  • brendan_of_bonsai
    12 years ago

    Despite what you may have been lead to believe the white man hasn't done anything that the brown man hasn't done too, its just that white men were in charge in the part of the world you pay attention to when things were done most effectively.

    Man is a predator as well as an omnivore, predators kill each other off, when in the wild one predator (like the sabre tooth tiger) is driven to extinction by climatic shifts (which have been happening through out recorded history, this climate change may be man made but the vast majority in the past 100,000 years has not been) and competition. Predators like wolves and coyotes and foxes eat the same grazing animals that we do, unfortunately the domesticated animals we grow in order to get the most meat per acre are sitting ducks so to speak and despite what you have no doubt been raised to believe humans are the only predatory mammal that shows restraint, given the opportunity a wolf will kill 25 sheep even though one is too much for a lone wolf to eat. if we drastically reduced our meat intake we could survive off of deer in most parts of the US, so long as we didn't let wolves back, unlike birds and fish humans can very effectively mimic the biological function of wolves, namely to kill and eat large animals and to reduce coyote populations.

    Going back to your guilt trip on the white man I'd like to point out that every nation in power in the entire recorded or decipherable history of man with one possible exception has behaved just like the white man did in the Americas, namely to subjugate other peoples. This includes Native Americans and Africans too, Native American tribes warred with each other as much as European tribes (and both had non-war methods of settling dispute like games) and most of the slaves shipped to the Americas by the Dutch were caught by people with black skin. The one exception mentioned before is the Hopi people of the desert south west, not because of there culture, but because there land sucked so much that they couldn't raise a descent army and no one felt like invading them in order to take it from them because they were the only ones with the skills to farm it.

    Next time you feel like making a racist jab on garden web keep your ill informed opinions to your self.

    For the record, I am in fact mostly white, but my skin is distinctly red, because I have a large percentage of Eastern Native American blood in me.

  • brendan_of_bonsai
    12 years ago

    I was so unhappy that I forgot to answer the question. Most permaculture meat production relies on three facets, using manure effectively, providing environmentally friendly food, and using animals (including the human animal) to do the work rather than fossil fuels. I've linked a TED talk where author Michal Pollan talks about one permaculture meat farm that uses bird wisely to reuse manure in the form of flies and fertilizer. Moscovie ducks make great flying insect control measures, sheep, goats, and cows will consume different groups of plants and so a mixed pasture will be more diverse and produce more meat while having fewer weeds, grazing birds like geese can further reduce the presence of plants that the major meat producers are responsible for. You can either leave the manure on the fields as a source of fertilizer there or use it in other ways like mushroom production then garden fertilizer or to make a variety of products, it can be burned as fuel but a few trees would be a better choice. Suckering trees can be used to shade your house or other structures and those trees can send up suckers which are used as food. There is just a never ending list of cleaver little ways to increase food production and decrease impact with out putting fossil fuels into the mix. Unfortunately tens of thousands of square miles of good land have been covered over with houses, rather than building there houses on crappy land most people prefer to roll in a turn productive rich land into contractors pan with houses on it, if half the people out there stopped mowing their lawns and instead kept sheep, and the other half bagged their clippings to be fed to sheep in the winter the suburbs would produce their own meat and the impact would be reduced significantly. Another huge problem is that we have destroyed natural watersheds, for instance if you live in LA you should be aware of the naturally abundant farm land of Owens valley and how LA destroyed that oasis for there own selfish wants, instead of growing orchards in Owens valley where the soil was wonderful from hundreds of years of farming they grew orchards out in the desert where the soil was crap from hundreds of years of desertification but the people with the desert land were the people with the power.

    Here is a link that might be useful: The omnivores next dilema

  • stoneunhenged
    12 years ago

    Someone has asked a good question and the answers here are interesting.

    I'll take a shot at it.

    There are two ways to minimize the impacts of humans on the environment: reduce the overall number of humans, and reduce the impacts from each human. No realistic attempt to mend the natural world on a global scale can occur without reducing the number of humans we could potentially create. No. I'm not advocating abortions. But, there are preemptive forms of birth control that must be used if we want to have a sustainable relationship with the world. Right now, we're pumping out 1.5 million new people each week. It's hard to eliminate the environmental consequences of that simple fact.

    As far as reducing the impacts from each person, the only reasonable method is to move from a petroleum-based agricultural model to a solar-based model. The only 'free lunch' is the energy we derive from the sun. This has to be converted to food in an efficient way. In real terms, this means growing food in polycultures on local farms.

    So, imagine that farms ring cities and on each farm the energy pathways between the sun, plants and animals are optimized. The sun grows grass. Cattle, pigs, sheep and chickens eat the grass. Their manure grows vegetables. It's trucked a very few miles where you, the consumer, eat it all. This is the model that must emerge.

    I disagree with the premise that grass-fed livestock is symbolic of our horrendous environmental impact on the planet. Done propertly, pastures usually work in conjunction with woodlands in a well-planned farm, and the border between pastures and woodlands is usually an area of great biological value. What is unsustainable is the much more common agricultural approach of massing livestock in concentrated feeding operations and feeding them grains that were grown in vast, distant monocultural fields. This is far more destructive to the environment than creating sustainable pasture.

  • reetha
    12 years ago

    Humans have directly or indirectly affected almost every corner of the earth, through various activities. As a result, ecologistsâ traditional subjects of study (e.g., âÂÂnaturalâ or pristine ecosystems) are disappearing, and human-dominated or -influenced ecosystems are inevitably and increasingly becoming their new focus of study. This paper discusses an urgent need to integrate ecology with human demography, behavior, and socioeconomics in order to understand and manage ecological patterns and processes. It also introduces the ten papers in this special issue, which integrate ecological, human demographic, behavioral, social, and economic factors through computer modeling and simulation. Finally, this paper provides some perspectives on further integration across disciplines.

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  • skipalita
    10 years ago

    How many beef cows could be raised in 24 acres of pasture using permaculture methods? A 60 day rotation 0.4 acres (131' x 131'). How much faster to market than current pasturing? Just looking for estimates.

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