I've written a lot about farming methods, but for folks who find a 30 page paper intimidating, there is a farmer who has been using the principles of permaculture and agroecology to reduce disease/feed cost/labor and increase productivity/health in farm animals.
Joel Salatin is a well known advocate of ecologically sustainable grazing using temporary paddocks, and his reasoning behind doing this instead of factory farming is the same as the reason why I want to do it:
- moving animals breaks the cycle of pathogens, negating the need for antibiotic which breed stronger pathogens
- moving animals regularly on pasture means I don't have to shovel poop and clean stalls, and the manure improves the pasture
- animals on pasture don't require as much supplemental feed, especially if they are encouraged to eat all edible plants, as in MIRG
- pastures where the animals don't stay on the grass for long don't get destroyed, so we don't need to re-seed them
- the animals are happy and healthy until their one bad day, instead of having a miserable existence
There are a lot of videos of him talking about how his system works, which I will link here:https://youtu.be/sYWYU5V8JOo
: Meet the Farmer 1https://youtu.be/yfw2ybbRTYs
: Meet the Farmer 2https://youtu.be/FrxmgR-vYms
: Meet the Farmer 3https://youtu.be/lXHrkPC5bok
: Soil Biology in Agriculture (an excellent video about using animals natural habits to do our jobs for us)https://youtu.be/vaQ3hXkXVjY
: Talking about big picture issues and the future of the agriculture industry
Example: One of his productive animals is laying hens. They live, during the spring, winter, and fall , in a mobile hen house without walls, that moves around a paddock cleaning up after cows, eating the maggots out of the cow pies, and disrupting that cycle that would ordinarily result in a lot of flies. During the winter these hens live in a cheap hoop house, and their bedding is piled up and piled up for about 100-120 days, until they can move back out to pasture. When they are moved out, their bedding is moved aside and corn, tomatoes, etc is planted in that hen house to make use of the nutrients in the chicken manure as well as the greenhouse-like nature of a plastic covered hoop house. This way, the land the chickens graze on is used at least twice (cows, chickens), the land the chickens winter on is used twice (chickens, crops), and no pathogens are able to build up and multiply around the chickens, because they are never in one place long enough for the germs to become a problem.
I would recommend anyone interested in this kind of management intensive, nature mimicking farming style to watch some of those videos, because this guy really knows what he's talking about.