At Next 7 Organic Farm, we ensure our livestock have access to fresh pasture without diminishing regrowth capability of our hay fields. My father taught us to bring a walking stick to the fields when we move a herd to the next ‘playground’. So called because as the calves high tail it into the high grass field, the cows tend to run, kick and act like their children at the sheer delight of grass that’s greener on the other side. His stick notched from the bottom up marks the height of the grass in inches. The first notch begins at 4 inches because he never lets the grass get consumed below it. His reasoning is that each blade of grass is a solar collector. The more exposure the blade has to the sun, the more energy goes into growing the field in preparation for the next rotation. Herds get moved between once a day and every three days depending on the size of the field they are leaving.
Chicken coop hens free range in the barnyard while our 2019 hens and meat birds live and rotate around their portable chicken tractors. With the help of nylon electric fences, two people can open up a fresh pasture for the flock in 20 minutes. This includes tearing down the fence as the fog rolls out of the bottom in early morning warmth, moving and filling feeders and waterers, position the fence on fresh pasture, releasing the birds from their predator proof abode and gathering eggs. On market days, chickens and pigs receive a delicacy of market scraps.
Pigs are rotated in much the same manner as the 2019 hens. They, too, have a portable shelter that is moved weekly and a nylon electric fence that rotates clockwise around their shelter every 24-48 hours.
All livestock receive free choice Redmond Sea Salt and Sea-Min Kelp Meal. This helps keep them healthy naturally. Ohio Earth Food explains, ‘As an animal feed supplement, kelp meal is the most economical way to provide a wide variety of amino acids, trace minerals and vitamins in a chelated form…It raises levels of production, improves digestion ability, and promotes healthy fur and coats. Improves the rates of conception and normal healthy births.’