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Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.

Livestock Guardian Dogs and Poultry

I’m very happy to feature a guest post on using livestock guardian dogs to protect poultry. This is perhaps the most challenging task we ask of these dogs, since poultry are not their traditional stock.

I’m so pleased that Anna Abney offered to share this useful information with Mother Earth readers. Anna Abney is the founder of the popular Facebook group Learning About LGDs and a professional dog trainer in upstate South Carolina. She also raises laying chickens, meat ducks, meat rabbits, and pack goats as well as working Central Asian Shepherd Dogs.

Livestock Guardian Dogs and Poultry

Many modern homesteaders and farmers are turning to livestock guardian dogs to protect their chickens and ducks and other barnyard fowl. Poultry are particularly vulnerable to predators, which often limits the poultry farmer's ability to free range her flock. A well-trained, reliable LGD can prevent losses from predators and allow the poultry farmer to achieve a more natural, healthy lifestyle for her birds. However, poultry are not traditional livestock for LGDs to protect so using them with birds presents special challenges. Not every LGD will turn out to be a trustworthy poultry guardian even with the best training and genetics but there are a few things you can do to maximize your chances for success.The first step with any working LGD is to purchase a dog from a reliable breeder with good references who can prove the working heritage of her dogs. If you can find a breeder with dogs already experienced with poultry that is the best bet. More information on selecting a well-bred LGD can be found here.

As with training any LGD, prevention is key. Puppies and adolescent dogs already struggle with bad decision-making skills and a flapping, squawking chicken can be an irresistible toy for a young dog. If they are able, many puppies will inevitably kill a chicken or other bird simply by playing with it to death. This killing is rarely deliberate but unfortunately a small bird doesn't stand up so well to a large, playful puppy. So in the beginning the ideal is to keep the pup and the poultry completely separated. This means the pup's area needs to be as inaccessible as possible for the birds. Chickens are notoriously birdbrained and will fly into a puppy's pen even after they have witnessed their own flock mates held down and all their feathers licked off. Trimming the birds' flight feathers can prevent this, as well as stringing bird netting across the top of the puppy's enclosure so the birds can't “throw themselves to the wolves.”

Like with any stock, the puppy also needs to practice calm, gentle behaviors, so taking the puppy out into the area with the poultry is a good idea. Praise the puppy for ignoring the birds, lying down, walking slowly around them and away from them, and anything else that involves the puppy relaxing and not becoming involved. Unlike other types of livestock, dogs rarely truly bond to poultry, so I generally don't encourage the puppy to meet my birds like I do with my goats. I want them to view the birds as totally off limits, so I am happiest when a puppy doesn't even look at them - just another thing on the farm, nothing to worry about or get excited over. Any attempt to play with, stare at, bark at, or bounce towards the poultry results in a stern scolding and an immediate return to the pen. I do have one exception to my rule about no interaction and that is if I have a mother hen or duck with a brood. In that state mother birds are fiercely protective and they are often much better at teaching a puppy to mind his manners with poultry than I am! So I will sometimes let a pup get a little too interested in one of my Muscovies or laying hens with a brood and just let the mama provide a walloping lesson in avian personal space. If your birds are tame enough, it can also be helpful to hold them and pet them in the dog's presence, making it very clear that they belong to you and only to you and are off limits for dogs.

The training phase for raising a poultry guardian often lasts well into their second or even third year. During this time you want to be extremely vigilant so that your young dog doesn't develop bad habits. Any inclination to chase or play should be sternly corrected. But if you or your puppy make a mistake and a bird is injured or killed, don't lose heart! It's normal to lose a bird or two during this time and most puppies will still go on to become reliable poultry guardians provided the training continues to progress. I do strive to protect my puppy from bullying by roosters or drakes during this time as puppies can hold a grudge if they are excessively frightened. It's also important to remember that a young dog may need to experience two or three hatching seasons before he understands that the tiny new fluffy things are just as off limits as the bigger feathery things. My male Central Asian Shepherd Lennon killed a handful of ducklings and chicks his first couple of years just because he wanted to see what they were. He would put his huge paw on them as they walked by in an attempt to investigate and unfortunately huge dog paw plus tiny duckling equals squished. Just like with the adult birds, I scolded him soundly and then put him in a time-out and ignored him. He is now four years old and is wonderful with my birds.

The failure rate for poultry guardians will always be a bit higher than for more traditional hoof stock, but so far I have been successful using the techniques outlined above. I would not be able to keep such a large free-range flock of Muscovy ducks and laying hens if I did not have my Central Asian Shepherds on duty. I have not had a single loss to predators with the dogs on the job!

Anna founded the Facebook group Learning About LGDs to help people with their everyday questions and problems with working livestock guardian dogs. You can find out more about Anna and her dogs at her Facebook page Thunder Mountain Central Asian Shepherd Dogs.

With more than 35 years of hands-on LGD experience, Jan Dohner writes for Mother Earth News and Storey Publishing. She is the author of Farm Dogs, The Encyclopedia of Animal Predators, and Livestock Guardians. For more information visit jandohner.comRead all of Jan's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

Photo credits: Central Asian Shepherd Anna Abney, Thunder Mountain Central Asian Shepherd Dogs; Maremma puppy Deborah Reid, Black Alder Ranch

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Coping With Chicken Loss


Losing animals is an inevitable part of raising them. No matter how careful and diligent you are, at some point you will have to deal with saying goodbye – and not just due to old age, either - to some members of your flock or herd. This is heartbreaking even if your animals were meant to end up as dinner at some point. So much more if you treat your livestock somewhat like pets. I remember one time years ago, crying and telling my husband I’d rather give it all up and never keep anything living but plants again.

We have lost a lot of chickens during the years - to predators, diseases, accidents, and sometimes for no visible reason at all. It's not as devastating as it used to be, but it's never easy. The predominant feeling, I guess, is that of guilt: if a chicken dies, especially because of something that was theoretically preventable, I feel as though I have let my flock down. And, for those who haven’t experienced this, it’s hard to describe the frustration of raising a chicken from an egg to point of lay pullet, and then unexpectedly finding her dead on the coop floor in the morning, just when you were about to begin enjoying her eggs; or carefully tending an incubator full of valuable purebred eggs for nearly three weeks, only to lose the whole hatch due to a lengthy power shutdown.

The losses go up dramatically if you free range and hatch your own chicks. We do both – and oh my, those little balls of fluff are as vulnerable as they are cute. Once in a while there is always an especially sneaky fox, or some thoughtless neighbor irresponsibly lets their dog off the leash. But raising our own chicks is too much fun to stop, and free-ranging means very substantial savings on chicken feed. 

So what do we do about this? My advice as a longtime chicken keeper would be:

1. Bounce back. Resilience is the one quality that draws a line between those who quit poultry keeping after a short time, and those who stick it out. As a matter of fact, this is true for much else in life, too. 

2. Think forward. Consider what you can do to reduce your losses. Is it a stronger coop, tighter fencing, better feed? Make sure you are doing what you practically can, as your resources allow, to become more successful in your venture. 

3. Know when to draw the line. Like in everything, there must be some sort of reasonable ROI in poultry keeping (though what it is will be determined on an individual basis, of course). Maybe the only feasible way to minimize predator loss is a steel fence six inches tall, and you just can't afford it. Maybe you would have to invest in a Livestock Guardian Dog, and you just aren't up to it. So you might have to make the conscious decision of quitting for a time, or of only having a few chickens which you keep locked up. Or maybe you will do just one yearly incubator hatch instead of five, and raise up a dozen chicks like babies, keeping them at home for a longer time to top up their chances of survival. Either way, I hope you find the balance that makes you happy and enables you to go on with the fun and rewarding practice of backyard poultry keeping.

Anna Twitto’s academic background in nutrition made her care deeply about real food and seek ways to obtain it. Anna and her husband live on a plot of land in Israel. They aim to grow and raise a significant part of their food by maintaining a vegetable garden, keeping a flock of backyard chickens and foraging. Anna's books are on her Author Page. Connect with Anna on Facebook and read more about her current projects on her blog. Read all Anna's Mother Earth News posts here

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Useful Skills For Remote Homesteading


When we were planning for retirement in the mountains we realized our wished for lifestyle would require careful planning ahead of time. Since we started planning early we had ample time to prepare for what we assumed was retirement in a high altitude semi-remote location. Therefore, this blog is a hodgepodge of needed skills and talents.

For those not familiar with the word hodgepodge it simply means agglomeration, alphabet soup or assortment. This blog addresses numerous skills that are different but necessary to cope/survive in a lifestyle like ours.

Canine Care

Since we choose not to socialize with many others in our community we have our immediate family of German Shepherd Dogs. They are intelligent, social, protective, funny and excellent over all family companions. It is not that we don’t like people - we do - but our community seems rift with backbiting and gossip and we did not retire for such antics. We do have friends whom we socialize with but for the most part our companions are our four German Shepherd Dogs.

It is important that any breed be fully understood to have good relationships with them. There are books written on this subject and I will not go into detail in this blog on understanding or the training of dogs. What I will say is that we constantly talk to our fur family and the more we talk to them the more they understand. We live in a small cabin and with four large dogs and it is important that we communicate well enough so we are not tripping over one another.

We studied and continue to study how to provide them a healthy life and care for any sickness or injury which is bound to happen. A few nights ago one such injury happened and we had to be able to deal with it promptly until we could get our family member to the veterinarian which is an hour's’ drive away.

One of our fur family has taught himself to go up and down the spiral stairs that go to the sleeping loft. In the middle of the night the power went out and when that happens at night it is totally dark in the house. We normally keep night lights on for our fur family (and us!) to navigate without incident but when the power went out that was when Echo decided he needed to be downstairs. He missed a step on the stairs and fell and injured his neck. That morning we were waiting for the vet to arrive when they opened up. They took him right in and diagnosed a soft tissue injury and prescribed pain medication. When we got him back home he paced and panted for 7 hours and we knew he needed relief.

We decided to improvise and put a 7” plastic collar on him that is designed to keep dogs from licking incisions or wounds. (see photo) That neck support was what he needed and he was then able to lay down comfortably. The moral of this story is that sometimes when you live an hour from the vet you need to improvise.

Service Skills

It is important to have various service skills to keep your homestead functioning well. Having plumbing, electrical, carpentry and small engine skills avoids unnecessary and costly visits by professionals. It is also important to know what you can do and what should be done by professionals. We retired early so money is not always available for those trip charges or professional fees.

We have educated ourselves to do the simple repairs and tasks and leave the more difficult jobs for the professionals. In addition to the professional fees we are charged a trip fee because of the driving distance to our homestead. The trip fee is usually around $50-70.00 which is usually a round trip charge. We found out regretfully when we needed our tractor repaired that the hourly rate for the mechanic started when they left and when they got back and coupled with the additional trip charge made those repairs very costly for us.

When we retired we purchased ‘how to’ books so we could do many jobs ourselves. We have found that a good ‘how to’ book  is very valuable. All you have to do is follow the steps in order and the job is done. We can change faucets, unclog drains, replace valves, repair hot water heaters, change wall switches or plugs as well as most construction tasks. Personally I still prefer the ‘how to’ book over the internet as I can lay it open next to the task at hand and follow the procedures systematically.

Educational Courses

Before we ever moved to our retirement location both Carol and I took courses on how to repair small engines. We took the basic course as well as the advanced course. We rely on small engines to handle the work that needs to be done around the homestead. We have a gas powered weed eater, snow thrower, multiple chain saws, generator and a power washer that all need to be properly maintained and repaired from time to time.

It is important that we keep the tall grass and weeds cut back from around the house for wildfire mitigation. The chainsaws are almost in constant use for clearing trees that have blown down or for cutting firewood. Since we heat with a woodstove we burn from 9-12 cords of firewood per winter depending on the weather. We need to keep the generator running for the occasional power outage that can last from a few hours to several days. Having the snow thrower should be self explanatory for an area like ours that receives 264” of snow on average a winter. The power washer is needed for blasting the clay and mud off our vehicles.

Being able to keep these tools running efficiently when they are needed takes some skill and education. The small engine course we took culminated in taking a 4 HP small engine completely apart and reassembling it and then have it running again. That is the type of course I would recommend as it is a hands on course that goes into detail on troubleshooting and repair. Therefore this blog is a hodgepodge compilation of  various talents to homestead remotely.

For more on Bruce and Carol McElmurray and their homesteading and mountain lifestyle as well as their four German Shepherd Dogs go to:

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Improving Orchards With Sheep Grazing

There are two well-known methods for reclaiming overgrown heirloom apple or other fruit trees: pruning, and opening up overgrown areas around ancient trees. Done simultaneously, these wise efforts can be too much for old trees. But there is another path to consider in tandem when seeking to reclaim such valuable but neglected assets: sheep!sheep 1

(Photo by Jacqueline Klar)

Goats should not be trusted around old trees, unless each tree is to be individually fenced and protected. They will devour vital bark, and climb into (and break) limbs where they are able. Cows and horses also can cause permanent or fatal damage. But sheep of most all breeds are by far the most innocuous, and the old fruit trees will express a thriving appreciation for the company.

Here in Vermont, we fenced a modest flock of our Corriedale sheep into an old apple orchard, and the trees exploded with blossoms and fruit. Year after year they improved, and we did very little pruning. Sheep urine replenishes nitrogen without soil toxicity, and fecal deposits tend to be well-distributed (v. cow-plops!) to nurture soils without killing grass. On warm days the sheep seek shade, so much of the urea and manure is concentrated over the roots. The sheep will not trouble bark, though they do nibble at low-hanging fruit and branches, and they conveniently keep suckers off roots. Sheep are pleased to convert dropped fruit into quickly-composting organic fertilizer, tax-free.

Overgrazing is always a consideration, but rotating sheep into apple orchards is a win-win method to boost both lamb and fruit crops. Be cautious though: rotating lambs or sheep into an orchard in fruit season could permit them to gorge themselves, and they should be monitored or rotated to prevent bloat. However, if they are left in through the season, our experience has been that they will not dangerously overeat.

And for the farmer who is not equipped, or does not desire, to house animals through winter months, spring lambs will work the land advantageously before “retiring” to winter freezer storage.

(A caution: we lost six young lambs, who had sheltered under a prominent old apple tree, in a single lightning blast. If possible, shelter animals from strong weather conditions, and turn off the electric fence before a big storm so as not to draw lightning.)

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Egg Anomalies


Grocery stores only carry smooth uniform eggs most of the time, so this is what customers see, but backyard flock owners get to discover all kinds of curiosities in the laying box - eggs of unusual shape, size and texture. These glitches in the chicken reproductive system are especially common in young pullets and older hens and are usually benign. Let's get into some specifics of the surprises your chickens may leave for you:

Tiny eggs - these 'oopsie eggs' are just a fraction of a size of a full-grown egg and normally contain no yolks. Usually they only turn up once in a while and are nothing to worry about, despite the various superstitions surrounding them in folklore (they are also known as "witch eggs").

Shell-less eggs - weak shells or soft eggs that feel almost as if they are made of rubber can be an indicator of not enough calcium in your chickens' diet. We don't often see those, as the land and water in our area are very mineral-rich, but they do turn up once in a while. Adding crushed eggshells to the chicken feed is helpful in replenishing calcium stores.

Uneven eggs - eggs covered with all sorts of bumps, spots, various irregularities, or misshapen eggs can just be something that happens to older hens or very flighty hens (I expect those forming eggs get all shaken up in there!) No reason to worry and not much you can do about it.

Double yolks - double-yolk eggs come up sporadically and are usually extra large. It's a cool surprise in your daily egg collection routine, but I always feel sorry for the poor hen.

Twin eggs - when two eggs don't quite separate inside the chicken's reproductive tract, you get this sort of "siamese twins" (as you can see in the photo); two eggs that are stuck together. Naturally, there will be two yolks.

Blood or meat spots in eggs - this is something you don't notice until you crack the egg open. A red spot inside an egg is unsightly, but if the egg is fresh, you have no reason to worry - just pick it out carefully and use the egg as you normally would. Red spots also depend on breed and weight - heavy hens and layers of brown eggs are especially prone to them.

Remember, while using curiously shaped eggs for food is just fine, only choose normal, uniform eggs for hatching to increase your success rates. If a hen is prone to laying misshapen eggs, you might want not to choose her regular-looking eggs for hatching either, as these traits tend to be hereditary.

Anna Twitto’s academic background in nutrition made her care deeply about real food and seek ways to obtain it. Anna and her husband live on a plot of land in Israel. They aim to grow and raise a significant part of their food by maintaining a vegetable garden, keeping a flock of backyard chickens and foraging. Anna's books are on her Author Page. Connect with Anna on Facebook and read more about her current projects on her blog. Read all Anna's Mother Earth News posts here

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Tanning Rabbit Hides


We started raising meat rabbits on our small acre homestead, and wanted to honor the animals that feed us by using as much of the rabbit as possible. The innards are buried, and turned to compost. The ears and feet are dehydrated, and used as dog treats. Also the hides are saved, and preserved the best we can. The process we use takes around 3 weeks to complete, so I save up hides until I have about a dozen before processing a batch.

To obtain the hide we cut around each foot, and between the leg, and pull the entire hide off in a tube. I rinse in cold water to remove as much blood from the neck area, and roll them skin side out. Each hide is placed in the freezer in a large bag until I have enough to process. They will keep about a year in the freezer.

Once I am ready to process I remove my hides from the freezer, and let thaw about 6 hours. I fill a clean 5 gallon pail (or Rubbermaid tub if you have more than 10) half way with hot water. Add 1 cup non iodized sale, and 1 cup aluminum sulfate (alum) to water. Stir until fully dissolved. I add fresh or thawed pelts to the solution. This will tan 10-12. If needed I top off with a little more water, and weigh down with a plate, and something heavy to make sure that all pelts are fully submerged.


My pail is stored at room temp for 5-7 days, and stirred twice a day to make sure that all areas are soaked in brine. It is important to keep this out of reach from animals and children. 5-7 days after the first brine I pull my pelts, and squeeze out as much brine as possible back into the bucket. Do not wring them out, just squeeze. The brine is saved for the next step.

To flesh each hide I start at the back tail section, and gently start peeling the flesh layer from the back. The edges are thinner, and can tear easily if you are not careful. I peel all around the edge, and gently but firmly pull down. Sometimes I can get it off in one piece, and other times it comes off in strips. The younger the rabbit the more fragile the pelt.


Once I get off the main pieces I go back through, and look for little bits that were left. If some is missed it's okay, because I can scrape it after it dries out.

When all pelts are fleshed I leave them inside out. I add another cup of non iodized salt, and another cup of alum to the remaining brine, stir well, and return all pelts. The pelts are weighed down, and topped off with a little extra water if needed. Pelts are covered, and left to sit 7-14 days. If pelts are not stirred twice daily there is a risk that folded areas will not get well brined, and this causes hair slip, and bald patches.

After the second brine each hide is pulled, and rinsed in cool water twice. I then cut up the belly to make each hide open. I use a bodywash or shampoo to clean fur. Each hide is rinsed in cool water twice. I then fill the tub with cool water to let them soak. I drain and refill 2 times to make sure all pelts are fully rinsed. I squeezed as much excess water out of each hide, but never wring them.

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Once clean, and rinsed each hide is hung in the garage to drip dry on a line. They can also be tacked to a board to encourage them to dry flat, but I tan 12 or more at a time, and space is an issue. Hides are checked twice daily to test them for drying. The trick is to stretch the hides when they are "mostly dry," but not stiff. Catching them at that point makes the stretching process much easier. If they become to dry and stiff I simply rewet using a damp cloth and cool water, and begin stretching again. The edges are most susceptible to this.

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Once stretched I return them to the line to dry fully. Once totally dry I shake out loose hair, and work over the back of a chair or wood post.  When they are all soft and completely dry I coat the back with mink oil. This preserved, seals, and softens the leather. It also smells pretty good, and makes the hides smell less like a rabbit.

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Once the skins are well oiled I store them skin to skin, hair to hair, so I don’t get mink oil on the fur sides. Where the fur meets the fur from another hide I place a scented dryer sheet to make the hair smell sweet. I keep my hides in a cardboard box rather than a sealed plastic tote so the hides can breath, and slip 2 bars of soap in the box for scent, and to keep any bugs away. They are then ready for whatever project I decide.

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Many folks will take this a step further, and smoke each hide over an outdoor smoldering fire. I only make pet toys with my current hides however, so I don’t smoke my hides. If you plan to store for a very long time, or make clothing or blankets from your hides, then I would recommend smoking them as well.

This video shows my step-by-step process of how I personally preserve our rabbit hides at home.

Melissa Souza lives on a 1-acre, organically managed homestead property in rural Washington State where she raises backyard chickens and meat rabbits and grows plums, apples, pears, a variety of berries, and all the produce her family needs. She loves to inspire other families to save money, be together, and take steps toward self-reliance no matter where they live. Connect with her on Facebook.

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Managing Your Pig Pastures in Really Wet Weather

Here's a tricky riddle someone asked me the other day..."How do you keep the pigs from wrecking your pasture in really wet weather?”

Turns out you can successfully graze pigs on pasture, even when it won't stop raining!  Here's what we did at Singing Prairie Farm during the last 11 day stretch with nary a sunbeam in sight.

1. Pay attention to your microclimates. There will be some places on your farm that are more resilient in wet weather than others. The longer you observe your land, the more you will notice the subtleties and nuances of each different corner and location. It's almost like each spot has its own personality. With this in mind, when the real rain set in, we moved our breeding herd (the highest impact group) to an east facing hillside that had not been grazed in 12 months. The slope helps by not allowing water to pool. If you have water pooling somewhere, that place will be very, very sensitive, so long as it is flooded. If the animals tramp around the puddles with their sharp hooves it will no doubt disturb and compact the soil so that it will be unlikely that good perennial grass will grow there next year.

Much like the guys I went to high school with, you might also describe pigs as having a "path of least resistance" mindset. This means they may drink from standing water in puddles rather than the good, clean water of their waterers. This could be a potential vector for disease and parasitism if left for long enough.

Other than the gentle slope, the other factor that helped us out a lot was the fact that the paddock hadn't been grazed for 12 months. All that grass on the surface eventually got laid down flat and acted like a small layer of armor between the sky and the earth. And as we all know, keeping soil covered and protected is one of the hallmarks of increasing those magical and omnipresent micro-organisms that make the whole world keep spinning...

Location can be described as the "broad brush strokes" of management. It's the big picture or Macro element which empowers your smaller, finer brush strokes to yield good fruit in time.

After location comes:

Duration: How long will the animals stay within a given paddock. We try to not leave our animals on longer than 10 days at the very most.

Stocking Rate: How many animals do you have in a paddock? Many beef grazers measure in estimated pounds per acre. I measure mostly by animal per square foot.  Our paddocks generally allow about 1,350 square feet per animal.  As a point of reference, CAFO's use 10.8 square feet per finishing animal.

Use of nose rings: We ring every weaned pig on the farm with a humane certified nose ring. Much like an electric fence, the nose ring provides a short term negative experience if the animal tries to venture where you don't want it to go. We want our pigs to graze, and not till, the pasture. We manage our pasture to keep grass in its vegetative stage. That is, about 4 to 8 inches in length after grazing. The longer you leave the grass, the quicker it will rebound.

Some farmers seem to be able to get by without nose rings. I don't know how. Every time I try to go without, I end up with a temporarily ruined pasture that looks like it's going to require the Army Corp of Engineers to get grass to grow there again. It is my experience that to be a carbon sequestering pig farmer, I need to ring noses.  Heck, I would ring my own nose if I thought it would help sequester carbon!

And lastly, the rotation of feeders and shelters within the paddock. I have found this last detail to be invaluable to the restorative effects of pigs on pasture if the weather is wet or dry. Rotating the feeders and hutches is particularly important during wet weather so the impact is spread evenly throughout the paddock. Without this added labor you end up with mud wallows in the hutches where you don't want them and ruined ground leading up to the door where they walk to the feeders or hutches. For example, in the last 11 days of rain I have moved the feeders and the hutches 22 times. This is not as hard as it sounds. My feeders are Pepsi Cola barrels, sawed in half  length wise. I keep these feeders in a long line spaced out about 20 feet apart. Each time I chore the pigs, I nudge the feeders about 5 feet forward with my boots.  You can do this with a bucket in each hand fairly easily. The hutches are 8 feet by 6 feet metal sheds built out of what looks like grain bin material. I move these to a patch of fresh grass each chore time when its wet.  Every 36 hours when its dry. Our waterers are the least mobile element in our design. They stay in the same place for the entire time that the paddock is being utilized.  For that reason, we armor the ground around the drinker with a half sheet of plywood or a few metal barrel lids. Nothing is too fine for pigs you know!

If this seems like a lot of work, don't worry. This little bit of work creates systematic improvement of your farms ability to produce even more grass next year. It will pay dividends in the long run. As early as 4-5 months later you'll have noticeably more grass as a result of your efforts and attention to detail.  And what more your pastures will keep getting lusher and greener.  You will be sequestering tons of carbon in every acre in the form of organic matter.  And as the years tick by, the more you pay attention to those details, the more resilient and self sufficient your farm will become!

 John & Holly Arbuckle
Co-Founders, Roam Sticks, LLC

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