Aquafest is upon us again. We will be back again this year and bringing some of our farm animals. Pixie our Finn ewe and Blue our Oberhasli milking doe. You can learn more about our animals (and videos) on our animals page. We will be talking about homesteading with sheep and goats, plus all our other animals, and some generals about what we have learned along the way and how you can get started too. We will be on site with the animals so stop on by and ask questions and chat with us. Aquafest is hosted by Aquatic Designs and Supply. Free, kids and family welcome, don’t forget to bring some quarters to feed the koi, they sure do love Aquafest, they eat VERY well during the event.
It has been two whole weeks since we added any new animals, and we just had to break the streak. This last weekend we got 4 new goats. They are all in the goat palace quarantine area for at least 30 days. We picked up four milking does; two were reported to be pregnant. If the girls were pregnant we will start milking them later this summer.
Our trial period is over for Jack. Jack came to freedom from the communist state next door. He roamed and protected his animals and was loved. His family is downsizing and moving to the city. He is not a city dog. We were on a trial basis until he decided he liked it here. We think he does, and now a new member to the farm. Notice we didn’t say previous family? That is because he came from one of the Aunties and they come and visit. If you don’t follow Rick on Facebook the Aunties are a group of women we have adopted as part of our family. Some near to us geographically, some across the country.
Lastly, I will be picking up some guinea keets this week. They will be truly free range and patrol the property for ticks. We may have some losses due to predators, but maybe not. We haven’t seen too many predator birds or other animals. With 2 farms dogs, kids, and us on the property we wanted an organic way to control ticks. This will be our first year ever having them. Before we start tours, we would like the tick population reduced.
Check out our “Our Animals” page for more information on all of our animals on the farm.
If you have been following us lately we have been adding numerous animals to our farm. Here is what we have to date. Most we want on pasture eating grass. But we do give them salt blocks and the treats to give additional nutrients not found in grass alone. This treats is a feed mix we make ourselves, but the same basic mix is put together and everyone can eat it. This is our first year doing this, so it is an experiment. After three months everyone seems to be doing well on it. We plan on experimenting with different mixes and combinations and as we learn more and refine the mix we will update everyone.
Why one mix? It lowers costs if animals cannot get out to pasture, or as a supplement to grass. If we didn’t give them the treats, they would me much harder to manage. We make sure, we show them the feed can, and shake it. We can get the llamas to come in from across the pasture, with just the can shaking. This is in no way the bulk of their diets. A coffee can 1/2 full to full for each species once a day if they get out on pasture, and twice a day if they are unable to forage.
It also reduces the risk of someone getting sick because they got the wrong feed mix. Since our youngest feeds animals regularly (5), and we have guests, and family help if they want to there are no accidents of giving an animal the wrong feed. Everyone can eat the base mix, and no additions can hurt anyone. Some species cannot tolerate certain feeds/supplements as easily as others.
What is in our feed mix?
Rather than give you all the nutritional details, I will like to a site which has them all for each component. Feedipedia is a AWESOME site.
Base which is given to turkeys, ducks, chickens for meat, geese, and chickens for eggs. It can also be given to the other animals as is, but they like a little extra in the mix. We purposely left soy out of the mix for now. Yes it is a big source of protein if growing animals for meat, we know. The base also is easily spread using a hand broadcast seeder. This allows the birds space to eat, increases foraging skills, and there is no fighting over the feed bucket/pile.
1 part black oil sunflower seeds. BOSS 16.6g protein 28.7 MJ/kg energy
2 parts cracked corn 9.4g protein 18.7 MJ/kg energy
2 parts oats 11.0g protein 19.5 MJ/kg energy
Averaging 11.5 g protein and 21.02 MJ/kg energy
Laying birds (ducks, chickens, turkeys, geese) get fee offering (as much as they want) crushed oyster shells. They are also on open pasture/area daily so bugs, worms, grass, weeds whatever they find.
For the pigs, goats, sheep, and llamas they get
2 parts base mix 11.5 g protein 21.02 MJ/kg energy
1 part alfalfa pellets 18.2 g protein 18.2 MJ/kg energy
They also get salt blocks, llamas are on pasture daily, pigs get regular grass until pig area completed, and goats and sheep get free hay and pasture almost daily.
Rabbits are on pasture daily, and get supplement rabbit pellets. We are experimenting with different combinations for the rabbits.
- Some things we learned, goats and sheep love rabbit pellets.
- The pigs prefer grass to feed mix.
- Rabbits who are raised on pasture from birth, eat far less pellets but take a bit longer to reach butcher weight.
- Everyone eats mulberry leaves/young branches, all birds love the berries.
Some things we are hoping to experiment in the next year or years.
- mulberry as an alternative feed
- using mulberry to feed silkworms, harvest silk, worms are protein source
- Black soldier fly larvae
- Comfrey as a mineral replacement
- locally sourced nuts as feeds
- Different plant based proteins in the pastures such as cowpea, vetch,
- rose of sharon
- More experimenting with the Fedipedia information
- spent brewery grains