We recently harvested broilers and turkeys. What doesn’t go into the freezer goes into the compost pile, such as innards, feathers, etc. I bury this stuff in a large pile of wood chips. The wood chips do a great job of absorbing everything during the decomposition process and we humans never smell anything. But the dogs obviously do and they would love to get their paws on some three week old rotted chicken heads.
Our german shepherd especially enjoys these treats. He’ll dig into that compost pile like it is a big birthday present. I decided to head this one off at the pass this year, by piling up some large heavy firewood pieces all around the compost pile once it was constructed.
I was not all that surprised the next morning to find that our pup had found the smallest, lightest piece and pulled it away to expose the pile. He was able to score a delectable turkey foot. I raked everything in again, and replaced the piece of wood with a larger, heavier one. So, despite that small setback, I still stand by this idea.
We’ve got six pigs in the backyard that are getting pretty big. We’ve been feeding them since May and plan on keeping one for ourselves and are selling the rest to friends. This is being done as part of our larger overall goal of being able to raise as much of our own food as possible. And we love bacon, ham, sausage, etc.
They receive a standard feed ration from the local grain elevator of 18% protein, that is made from corn, soybeans, etc. We supplement this as much as possible with things we grow or glean. This summer I grew about 30 double row feet of mangel beets. I learned from the Deliberate Agrarian website that they are an old fashioned livestock feedstuff. These puppies grow really big, up to 24″ in length. And the pigs love them! When these beets are thrown into the pen the pigs literally spin around in circles like a helicopter rotor!
Pigs love to eat freshly picked mangel beets
Why pigs and not cows? Some of you know that I grew up on a farm raising beef cattle and so that would be the natural progression for me. A steer, when raised properly will take one and a half to two years to finish its journey to slaughter weight, where a pig only takes six to eight months. Feed conversion ratios are also very important. A beef steer has a feed conversion ratio of something like 13:1. (this will vary widely depending on the system/style of feeding) That is 13 pounds of feed to one pound of meat gain. They have very large frames and therefore have a much higher ‘maintenance requirement’ and an animal must meet its maintenance requirements before it will ever make gains. Pigs, on the other hand, have a feed conversion ratio closer to 4:1 or less.
In other words, it is way less expensive to raise a hog than a steer, when combining the above ratio and the timeline. That is why pigs and chickens have traditionally been called the mortgage lifters – they’re more profitable!
One of my favorite websites is active again. The Modern Homestead. The author, Harvey Ussery, took some time off to write a new book, but now he’s back at it, writing all sorts of interesting articles. He centers mostly around raising poultry and fowl, but also has an extensive gardening advice section as well. I really like his idea about setting up worm bins down the middle aisle of your greenhouse. I spent a fair amount of my spare time last summer reading everything on that website.
Our German Shepherd puppy, Wolfey has been at it again. Born Christmas Day 2010, he’s just a little over six months old, but over seventy pounds already. Courtney’s mother and sister visited over the weekend for our son’s birthday which meant we were preoccupied. The poor dogs stayed at home while we were out on Saturday afternoon and got into trouble.
Wolfey ran out of things to do, so he started munching through the strings used to make a trellis for our cucumbers. I found a cucumber plant laying lifeless out in the yard with its leaves removed.
Here is my response: a dogproof cucumber trellis.
I wrapped the whole thing in chicken wire. That ought to do the trick, I thought.
I was wrong. Yesterday, I caught him reaching his head up and nibbling on a leaf that was cascading over the top. The next step is to dust everything with cayenne powder.
As most of you know, we have two dogs: Cowboy, our English Shepherd and Wolfey, our German Shepherd. I am amazed at the differences. Wolfey is only six months old and already outweighs Cowboy by ten pounds. He eats faster than Cowboy and I sometimes have to act as referee at the bowls because Wolfey chows down his larger portion before Cowboy finishes.
I’m sharing some information I found on how to determine the proper amount of food for dogs. After all, you don’t want your dog to be overweight. An overweight dog is an unhealthy dog and will be prone to problems such as joint pain and heart trouble. Most people don’t seem to understand that a dog’s body condition is important. This is evidenced by the amount of fat dogs I see running around. And when I meet them and pet them, I can’t feel their ribs at all through all that blubber! Disgusting!
With that in mind, the best way to tell if your dog is overfed or underfed is by feeling the ribcage. You should feel some rib, but they shouldn’t feel like a bag of bones. Here is a great reference with some more description. Increase or decrease the level of feeding based on how they measure up to this standard. Don’t make changes too drastically though because it will cause stress on the dog.
There are a number of websites out there that can help you determine the appropriate feeding level for your dog, but here is one of my favorites. Combined with the information of the back of the bag of food you can determine the appropriate amount of food.