Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Rotational Grazing - Caribbean style

Anyone who's read Michael Pollan's excellent book The Omnivore's Dilemma will be familiar with pastured food legend Joel Salatin's Polyface Farm and the multi-species grazing ethic he practices there. If you're not familiar with this (you should make the effort; its an interesting lesson on nature, hard work and the inherent possibilities of food production) the basic proposition is that in natural ecosystems grassland gets worked over by a number of different herbivores and omnivores who each treat it differently. Salatin therefore moves his cows from spot to spot daily and follows them up with chickens, turkeys and rabbits (and quite possibly a few other odds and ends like pigs from time to time). By timing this right the chickens and turkeys predate the flies that bother the cows, all the species involved do what they do naturally and get the benefit of the right kind of grasses and forbs for their needs and basically everyone wins. Here in the Caribbean we do things slightly differently.


Basically everything runs around together feeding on whatever it can lay its hands on. Side note: Is it just me or does this cow give anyone else an Aurochsen kind of vibe?


These guineas were staying close to the cow - I think they were enjoying various insects as the cows disturbed them much as cattle egrets do. Whilst I mock the laissez-faire attitude at work here somewhat I am convinced that at least some of the principals Salatin references are also being taken advantage of in this less sophisticated farm. It is certainly preferable to some god-awful CAFO beef or battery poultry.


There were also chickens, muscovies and wild monkeys running around but helmeted guineafowl are so beautiful you get two photos.


A) Goofy-looking horns; but
B) Uh-Oh, time for me to leave the vicinity!

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