"We must achieve the character and acquire the skills to live much poorer than we do. We must waste less. We must do more for ourselves and for each other. It is either that or continue merely to think and talk about changes that we are inviting catastrophe to make. The great obstacle is simply this: the conviction that we cannot change because we are dependant on what is wrong. But that is the addict's excuse, and we know that it will not do."
—Wendell Berry

Friday, 4 September 2015

Feeding, fattening and economics

 Fattening stock for meat always requires special care to the feeding. You cannot simply throw a few handfuls of pellets to your piglets and expect to get good, or cheap, pork. Frankly the cost of shop bought fattening mixes would give you anything but cheap pork! We like our livestock to free range wherever possible but when fattening for meat we must also supply a lot of extra food.
In the case of our meat chickens we have been experimenting for several years with various mixes at various costs. For a while I was able to get some high-protein mix to mix in with millrun and cracked corn. It fattened the birds admirably when it was available, and there is the problem- because we could not always get it.
So this year we have been making this mix of:

2 parts millrun,
2 parts cracked corn,
1 part whole soy meal,
1 large handful of shell grit
1 big glug of vegetable oil.

Mix it all together and the chooks love it! Unfortunately it is still an added cost to the feed bill that we would rather do without. So I have determined that timing is the issue here.

For about one third of the year we have more milk than we can easily use. At the end of winter to mid summer the potato growers are processing their crop and I can get free discard potatoes by the tonne.
Milk and boiled potatoes is an old fattening recipe for both pigs and fowl! Boil a huge pot of potatoes overnight, enough for both feeding times the next day. In the morning add your leftover milk, buttermilk or whey to the cooled potatoes. Give it a bit of a stir-come-mush-up, dont be too fiddly about it and serve. Stand back as in my experience the livestock will take a flying tackle into the feed trough for this meal!
If I could I would also add boiled whole barley but alas this is not a barley growing district and it costs much more than I would care to pay. A little cracked corn serves well as a substitute. So with the next batch of pigs to fatten, we shall also fatten a batch of meat chooks at the same time and on the same diet. Make sure the pigs get to roam and dig in their paddocks and make sure the chooks get a great armload of greens each day also. The result is excellent meat at the cost of some labour and little else.

1 comment:

  1. Ulf your milk comment for pigs and chooks reminds when I was growing up that pig feeding occurred before the milk was separated after each milking on the dairy. As a result the skim milk had curdled before the next feed time so pigs got curds and whey (which I think is probably better for them rather than fresh skim milk). The chooks always seemed to know when it was feed time and lined up at the drum of curds and whey so they could get a few handfuls of curd off the top.