Maintaining Animal Health
Biodynamics is a holistic system in which measures to improve soil quality, such as crop rotation and compost additions, also help to keep plants and animals healthy. Here are the views of a farmer and farm adviser with many years experience of some of the practices used in biodynamics.
Twenty One Points On Animal Health
by Peter Proctor
- CowGrow quality feed at all times, using biodynamic methods. Always have adequate reserves of fodder on hand.
- Address mineral requirements of the soil – such as calcium and phosphate.
- Practise good pasture management. For example, avoid over grazing or pugging of paddocks during wet periods.
- Encourage a wide range of species of pasture plant throughout the farm Include the deeper rooting grasses such as cocksfoot, Phalarus, prairie grass, as well as legumes such as white and red clover and lucerne. Chicory is also useful.
- Avoid pasture compaction through over-use of heavy machinery which will destroy soil structure and consequently pasture quality.
- Use preparation 500 regularly, two to three times a year – in spring and autumn to improve and maintain soil quality and structure.
- Apply preparation 501 to pasture – particularly to the hay and silage paddocks – in spring, in the morning, according to the appropriate moon rhythm to enhance fodder quality.
- Use preparations 502 – 507 regularly by means of compost, various liquid manures or cow pat pit so as to bring their influence over the whole farm. These preparations allow the energies of the planets to balance the trace elements and major nutrients, and thus give the soil the ability to grow health giving plants. The beneficial effect on animal health of the regular and adequate use of these preparations is probably the one single factor on which all biodynamic farmers agree.
- Make quality silage and hay. Perfect your method. Cut your crop at the time of the appropriate moon rhythms.
- Stock your farm at a sensible and realistic density for your area. Do not overstock.
- Good shelter from prevailing winds will cut down stress from wind chill, and also enable better grass growth over a longer period.
- Have good shade trees available to stock, particularly where ultraviolet light levels are high.
- Have clean water available at all times. Take care not to have wet areas around troughs where diseases and parasites can breed.
- Avoid other forms of stress on animals at all times. For example, take care when working animals in the yards. Avoid noisy motorbikes or over enthusiastic dogs.
- Set stock on dry stock units where possible, to avoid the pecking order syndrome which arises from frequent changes of paddock.
- Allow longer than normally accepted times before the weaning of young stock – particularly the dairy calves or lambs you intend to keep for fattening or breeding.
- Look to the genetic base of your animals. Some diseases are hereditary. Breed for health as well as for weight gain. Check that the sire with a good health record does in fact give you progeny of a good size.
- Use herbal medicines. Strong drenches of garlic and cider vinegar are a great help with many internal parasites. Use homeopathic remedies where applicable.
- Make regular additions of herbs to fodder diet. Use, for example, rosemary, tansy, wormwood, thyme or sage. See Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable, by Juliette de Baraicli Levy for further information.
- Make regular additions of cider vinegar to water troughs and onto hay during the winter feeding out time.
- Develop the ability to be able to assess the health of your flock or herd with one glance. An early diagnosis of any problem makes for a greater chance of success with the cure.