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Bring on the FLERD!




Colonel’s Blog, Earthdate 11 April 2023…

Hey Y’all! Check out our new YouTube Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lT69yEZHGg


Good morning and happy Tuesday! It’s another beautiful day on the farm, a cool start to a mid-70s sunny afternoon. The top two pics are the hogs this morning. They have less than a week left on the farm and are looking really good. We will move their feeders back into the loading pen in the next couple of days and move the livestock trailer down to give them some feed inside to get them used to it. The bottom two pics are one of our bottom pastures. The grass is green, but just not quite tall enough to bring on the ruminants. A... few... more... days... Shelley and I got our workout in this morning as we chased two of the beef heifers that decided to leave their pasture for greener grass. Almost 4 miles and 1 1/2 hours of chasing them back/forth, up/down the woods and hills, they finally decided to go back and jumped over a low spot in the fence and walked down the road where I let them in through the gate. We were covered in ticks so immediately after we milked the dairy cows we took a mid-morning scrub and put on clean clothes. The other animals are great with nothing significant to report. We didn’t ride the Harleys yesterday. We decided we didn’t want to go anywhere and spent the time editing a video. Today we will take a package of special-ordered pork to the UPS store for shipment to the east coast. We had a special request for whole belly and whole hocks so we had one of the last batch processed in that way. We will also work on a video regarding the pork pickup. Things are starting to get a bit busier as Spring takes hold.

During morning staff meeting, Shelley and I discussed joining the beef cow herd and ewe flock into a single group called a flerd. A lot of regenerative grazers that have both cows and sheep run them together in a flerd. We have been reticent to do so, I guess, mainly because it is so different. We aren’t sure what the guardian dogs are going to do with the cows nor what the cows will do with the dogs. What if the cows run the sheep? What will the daily moves look like? What if someone gets out? (Turns out the heifers were probably out while we were having the conversation.) How will we get them back separated again? Etc. After discussing all of the reasons we were uncomfortable with the thought, we decided to give it a try anyway. There are real benefits that we feel outweigh the potential problems. First, it will be a time and effort saver to only move one group a day instead of two. As we start the process, we’ll do a video so you can see what each move entails. Second, the two different animals prefer to graze different things. The cows prefer the grasses and the sheep prefer the broad leafs. The combination of the two means that both grass and broad leafs get eaten at the same time. That ensures that both are recovering together instead of one getting eaten and the other getting to continue to grow. Finally, they are dead-end hosts for each others’ internal parasites. That means that if a cow eats a blade of grass with sheep parasites on it, they will die in the cow’s stomach. Same if a sheep eats cow parasites. That helps keep the parasite load on the pastures down, effectively making the animals healthier and reducing the need for dewormers. Now that we decided to give it a try, we must back into the two groups in the same place at the same time. We will first work the cows, vaccinating the calves that need it. Then we will release the cows into a previously built paddock big enough for the flerd. We will then work the ewes, trimming their hooves and vaccinating all of them. Vaccinating the ewes a month prior to lambing gives the lambs the antibodies as if they were vaccinated. Once the ewes are complete, we will let them out into the paddock with the cows, forming the flerd. I’m sure we will do a video and there are normally comedic clips from occasions with this much happening. Bring on the FLERD!


We uploaded the video of moving the beef chickens onto pasture, called "Brooder to Bliss--Pastured Chickens Take on the Great Outdoors." It's only 2 1/2 minutes long but we like it. What do you think?

Local Farm Report for 10 April 2023:

Harvest:

35 Chicken eggs

19 Duck eggs

1 Goose egg

0 Guinea eggs

5 1/4 Gallons of milk

Cheers! Psycho & Shelley

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