It's not Just Joel Salatin anymore

Page 6 of 6  
FarmI wrote:

That was one of the side effects I had in mind. We have chook sheds for meat birds in the district. Ten thousand or twenty in a shed with a dirt floor with just enough room to move between the feed and the water. Lights on half the night to get them to eat more. The workers wear breathing apparatus to clean out the sheds and it will make you puke at 400m on a hot night. The eagles dine well on those who get trodden under. Nuff said.

In those days it meant the chooks had a varied diet not just pellet chook food. A question that you would know, is the yellow yolk still such an indicator or is it emulated these days by diet additives?
David
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Indeed. I've been to a feed lot and I had the same reaction although this was probably one of the better run ones. I'd turn vegetarian if our local buthcer sourced his meat at places like that but I can see his 'feed lot' (for want of a better description as it's jsut his farm) from the road and his cattle have quite a nice spot for the final finish on feed before they take the trip to the abattoir. (sp?)

That is one of those 'it depends' answers as in, it depends ont he feed.
If you feed them on kitchen scraps (not recommended as that isn't nutritious enough) then free ranging (as opposed to keeping confined) will change the colour of the yolk. Pellets contain a yellowing agent, but apparently that yellow isn't carried through so that in baked goods show up the yellowing. Yolks that are yellow as a result of the feed they find outside does hang on through the baking process so that the baked goods (like say a butter cake) will appear more yellow. I've not done these tests myself but there was a long article on it (with comparative pics) in one of the 'Australasian Poultry' mags a couple of years ago. A great little magazine and as cheap as chips.
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Besides having a yoke that looks like an apricot, instead of a lemon, real eggs have a viscosity to them that factory produced eggs don't.
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- Billy
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the
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Billy wrote:

My food books say the yellow of the yolk is due to xanthophylls which come from plants, typically lucerne and corn. Not having chook books I do this backwards. Apparently corn feed is also responsible for the yellow skin and fat found in some "organic" meat birds.

Is the height and viscosity of the egg contents a result of diet and health of the chook or a sign of freshness, or both? The same ref (McGee 'On Food and Cooking') says freshness has much to do with it.
Come on chook people - give me the scoop before I build the chook house.
David
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Xanthophylls come from plants to be sure, but typically lucerne and corn? That seems like more of a production setting. They should get the same thing just scratching on a meadow.
How much land do you have? Does the mobile chicken coop offer you any advantages? It seems that if you can build top soil la Salatin, it would be worth your while, since it would be better at holding water.
All I know from eggs is that we get our eggs from a friend who turns her chickens out to pasture during the day. They get a supplement to replace calcium, and to my understanding that is all they get. The eggs are fresh, and as I said, the yolks are the color of apricots. My biggest surprise was when I had my blood work done (at least once a year) while I was eating the eggs, my cholesterol had dropped. The eggs were the only variable that came to mind.
Anyway, if you look at p.265 in Omnivore's Dilemma, you'll see a description of "real" eggs, and it is what I'm used to. If we can't get out friend's eggs, I stop eating eggs.
I don't know what it is with Garden Banter, either. I'm used to Brits in other groups, and they aren't nearly as, . . uh, rustic as the ones that we attract.
Later,
--
- Billy
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Billy wrote:

No doubt they would, this was from a food book not an agriculture book.

I have toyed with the mobile coop idea. I am quite attracted to the mandala garden where the coop move around a series of beds but I can't see how to make it work with the succession of seasonal planting, nor how to make it fox proof.

I will allow my chooks to range over the pasture during the day but first I have to build a secure coop for them at night or the fox will have them.

I am a serious cook that's why I read books like McGee. My understanding is that the qualities that he praises are mainly from freshness.

Rustic people are smarter than this lot. It's a puzzle.
David
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Must be quite a good book. It has held its price. Shame it's not available from our local library.
The following is a bit of over kill, but to the subject at hand. Omnivor's Dilemma <(Amazon.com product link shortened) 583/ref=pd_bbs_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid06815576&sr=1-1>
pg. 266 - 269
I had made pretty much the same meal on several occasions at home, using the same basic foodstuffs, yet in certain invisible ways this wasn't the same food at all. Apart from the high color of the egg yolks, these eggs looked pretty much like any other eggs, the chicken like chicken, but the fact that the animals in question had spent their lives outdoors on pastures rather than in a shed eating grain distinguished their flesh and eggs in important, measurable ways. A growing body of scientific research indicates that pasture substantially changes the nutritional profile of chicken and eggs, as well as of beef and milk. The question we asked about organic foodis it any better than the conventional kind?turns out to be much easier to answer in the case of grass-farmed food. Perhaps not surprisingly, the large quantities of beta-carotene, vitamin E, and folic acid present in green grass find their way into the flesh of the animals that eat that grass. (It's the carotenoids that give these egg yolks their carroty color.) That flesh will also have considerably less fat in it than the flesh of animals fed exclusively on grainalso no surprise, in light of what we know about diets high in carbohydrates. (And about exercise, something pastured animals actually get.) But all fats are not created equalpolyunsaturated fats are better for us than saturated ones, and certain unsaturated fats are better than others. As it turns out, the fats created in the flesh of grass eaters are the best kind for us to eat.
This is no accident. Taking the long view of human nutrition, we evolved to eat the sort of foods available to hunter-gatherers, most of whose genes we've inherited and whose bodies we still (more or less) inhabit. Humans have had less than ten thousand yearsan evolutionary blinkto accustom our bodies to agricultural food, and as far as our bodies are concerned, industrial agricultural fooda diet based largely on a small handful of staple grains, like cornis still a biological novelty. Animals raised outdoors on grass have a diet much more like that of the wild animals humans have been eating at least since the Paleolithic era than that of the grain-fed animals we only recently began to eat.
So it makes evolutionary sense that pastured meals, the nutritional profile of which closely resembles that of wild game, would be better for us. Grass-fed meat, milk, and eggs contain less total fat and less saturated fats than the same foods from grain-fed animals. Pastured animals also contain conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a fatly acid dial. some recent studies indicate may help reduce weight and prevent cancer, and which is absent from feedlot animals. But perhaps most important, meat, eggs, and milk from pastured animals also contain higher levels of omega-3s, essential fatty acids created in the cells of green plants and algae that play an indispensable role in human health, and especially in the growth and health of neuronsbrain cells. (It's important to note that fish contain higher levels of the most valuable omega-3s than land animals, yet grass-fed animals do offer significant amounts of such important omega-3s as alpha linolenic acidALA.) Much research into the role of omega-3s in the human diet remains to be done, but the preliminary findings are suggestive: Researchers report that pregnant women who receive supplements of omega-3s give birth to babies with higher IQs, children with diets low in omega-3s exhibit more behavioral and learning problems at school, and puppies eating diets high in omega-3s prove easier to train. (All these claims come from papers presented at a 2004 meeting of the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids.)
One of the most important yet unnoticed changes to the human diet in modern times has been in the ratio between omega-3 and omega-6, the other essential fatty acid in our food. Omega-6 is produced in the seeds of plants; omega-3 in the leaves. As the name indicates, both kinds of fat are essential, but problems arise when they fall out of balance. (In fact, there's research to suggest that the ratio of these fats in our diet may be more important than the amounts.) Too high a ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 can contribute to heart disease, probably because omega-6 helps blood clot, while omega-3 helps it flow. (Omega-6 is an inflammatory; omega-3 an anti-innammatory.) As our dietand the diet of the animals we eatshifted from one based on green plants to one based on grain (from grass to corn), the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 has gone from roughly one to one (in the diet of hunter-gatherers) to more than ten to one. (The process of hydrogenadng oil also eliminates omega-3s.) We may one day come to regard this shift as one of the most deleterious dietary changes wrought by the industrialization of our food chain. It was a change we never noticed, since the importance of omega-3s was not recognized until the 1970s. As in the case of our imperfect knowledge of soil, the limits of our knowledge of nutrition have obscured what the industrialization of the food chain is doing to our health. But changes in the composition of fats in our diet may account for many of the diseases of civilizationcardiac, diabetes, obesity, etc.that have long been linked to modern eating habits, as well as for learning and behavioral problems in children and depression in adults.
Research in this area promises to turn a lot of conventional nutritional thinking on its head. It suggests, for example, that the problem with eating red meatlong associated with cardiovascular disease may owe less to the animal in question than to that animal's diet. (This might explain why there are hunter-gatherer populations today who eat far more red meat than we do without suffering the cardiovascular consequences.) These days farmed salmon are being fed like feedlot cattle, on grain, with the predictable result that their omega- 3 levels fall well below those of wild fish. (Wild fish have especially high levels of omega-3 because the fat concentrates as it moves up the food chain from the algae and phytoplankton that create it.) Conventional nutritional wisdom holds that salmon is automatically better for us than beef, but that judgment assumes the beef has been grain fed and the salmon krill fed; if the steer is fattened on grass and the salmon on grain, we might actually be better off eating the beef. (Grass-finished beef has a two-to-one ratio of omega-6 to -3 compared to more than ten to one in corn-fed beef.) The species of animal you eat may matter less than what the animal you're eating has itself eaten.
The fact that the nutritional quality of a given food (and of that food's food) can vary not just in degree but in kind throws a big wrench into an industrial food chain, the very premise of which is that beef is beef and salmon salmon. It also throws a new light on the whole question of cost, for if quality matters so much more than quantity, then the price of a food may bear little relation to the value of the nutrients in it. If units of omega-3s and beta carotene and vitamin E are what an egg shopper is really after, then Joel's $2.20 a dozen pastured eggs actually represent a much better deal than the $0.79 a dozen industrial eggs at the supermarket. As long as one egg looks pretty much like another, all the chickens like chicken, and beef beef, the substitution of quantity for quality will go on unnoticed by most consumers, but it is becoming increasingly apparent to anyone with an electron microscope or a mass spectrometer that, truly, this is not the same food.

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- Billy
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My eggs have an deep orange yolk, the shells are thick and the eggs have a rich taste. I have dropped them to the floor and have not cracked enough to leak out. Also I have to keep the eggs in the fridge for a week if I want to hard boil them. Fresh eggs out of the henhouse are great for frying and other uses. Except hard boiling them, the shells are like glued to egg whites. After a week in the fridge the shell comes off easily after hard boiling. It has do with PH levels, eggs are porous and lose some of their carbon dioxide. I learned about waiting a week from the book "Cookwise by Shirley O. Corriher" page 198. Book is on the science of cooking.ISBN-10: 0688102298 (Amazon.com product link shortened)83057470&sr=1-1
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Enjoy Life... Dan L

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David you might find this site of interest: http://permaculturewest.org.au/ipc6/ch02/withers/index.html

The bastard foxes will also take chooks during the day so don't be too convinced that a night house will be all you need.
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FarmI wrote:

Oh yes. I have run into them in daylight on our place in the rougher area over the river. I have a kelpie who is very protective, he rid me of rabbits near the house (where the chooks will live) and I trust him to do the same of foxes, at least for a few years yet. He patrols most carefully, repelling evil with both noise and spray.
David
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Yep, corn does give yellow fat. dunno what gives the yoldk it's yellow colour in pellets though. do you want me to dig out my A'Asian Poultry mag with that article in it about yolk colour and give you a precis?

I'd say it's more freshness than anything. Duck eggs are even more so of both.
The same ref (McGee 'On Food

Before you even start that, pay strict attention to rats and how to control and exclude them. But really chooks are easy. Keep the foxes away and wild birds out of the night yard/feed area. Keep the pullets confined when you get them till they get used to their night house and yard and then let them out to range (Ours range in an orchard which is prolly about a quarter of an acre). I wouldn't fully free range if you want to have veg though or toehrwise you wont' have veg. They will do a good job of spreading horse plops.
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FarmI wrote:

I am interested but don't go to too much trouble.

I already have a master plan for the erradication of the rodents since they ate the weather seal off my shed door to get in and they attack the produce on the verandah. It doesn't work of course but I do fight them to a draw. People comment on how generous I am with feed for them. Them pellets ain't chook food.
Keep the foxes

Foxes are a real problem, such destructive buggers, the chook house will be metal with buried barriers, the yard will have a loop off the electric fence around it as well.
How do you stop them scratching all the mulch off your fruit trees?
David
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OK. I have to dig through them to let someone on another ng know aobut why lime is used in the henhouse so when I do that for her, I'll look for the article for you.

Unlike mice, rats are much harder to kill off. We've done the hose pipe from the car exhaust down the tunnels, the Jack Russells and a shovel and posion but the sods keep coming back. I'm advised by the chooky people I know that traps don't work like they do for mice. I think far more concrete might be the next strategy.

Also lay about 30 cm of wire out from the fence towards where the foxes would be coming from. They don't think to step back and then to burrow under so it's more efficient than burying it. Also use a heavy guage netting on the bottom part of the pen. The idiot who built ours used a very light guage and the foxes worry at it till they get a hole and you'd be surprised at how tiny a hole is needed to let a fox through. I've had to progressively go round that blasted orchard and add new wire in addition to the old stuff.

I don't. I chuck piles of weeds under the fruit trees and the chooks go in and forage and scratch it around and while they're doing that they're leaving droppings and getting rid of excess grass growth. My garden is not a pristine, neat place but it is productive. Me and the willing but ignorant undergardener have 2 farms to look after and 2 houses and 2 gardens so there is not a lot of time for 'neat'.
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I chuck piles of weeds under the fruit trees and the chooks

Here is a gem for the spectators (if any): do away with terminal neatness.
D
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Bert Hyman wrote:

Will that be when oil becomes so expensive that it cannot be used to make fertiliser and the broadacre crops' yields drop to pitiful?
You are right (if I understand you correctly) that we don't know how to feed the world sustainably yet. Altering how we do agriculture is only part of the solution. Unless we also deal with over-population all other resource problems will be exacerbated to breaking point.
We will only go back to an agrarian economy if the present system has a catastrophic collapse, followed by a population collapse, and nobody wants to see that. The alternative is to work out how to do sustainable agriculture and reduce our population. We have to make that choice or nature will make it for us - and then the results won't be pretty.
Whether McKibben has it right and this requires breaking production up into local units remains to be seen. I suspect that some degree of localisation will have to be part of the plan in order to reduce transport costs and that implies eliminating huge monocultures too. There are of course other reasons for doing that besides the transport difficulty.
We need more people to work on making the conversion to a sustainable way of life a soft landing instead of a crash. Saying "we will all be ruined" and using that as an excuse to keep the present system will become self-fulfilling.
David
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http://westgatehouse.com/art9.html
On Cuba and sustain ability.
""In America, the work I do is on the fringe, says Rieux. "Organic farming is still perceived as unusual and far from the norm. It was exciting to be in a place where the efforts of the entire government are behind sustainable agriculture. (Sustainable agriculture refers to an integrated system whereby the gardener works within natural biological cycles and uses only naturally occurring resources.) The idea of the small urban farm being highly productive, sustainable and the source of a nice income was heartening to see. Cuba proves it's feasible, it's happening. With limited gasoline to transport, refrigerate and store food from the countryside, food production was brought to the cities. Cuba now has one of the most successful urban agriculture programs in the world. The State is making unused land available to fledgling urban farmers and thousands of empty lots have been turned into organic oases. In Havana alone there are 8,000 organic gardens producing a million tons of food annually. The gardens range in size from a few meters to several hectares. The urban farmers primarily grow lettuce, bok choy, onions, chard, radishes, tomato, cabbage and broccoli. Gardens can employ anywhere from one to 70 people depending on the size of the garden. And people from all walks of life are participating."
--
Bill S. Jersey USA zone 5 shade garden

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Q0JfdP36kI

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It definitely appears that the future of agriculture will be diversification, and re-ruralization with a return to the land for much of the work force. From roof-tops, to balconies, to sustainable pastures, and to forest farming, each niche must be taken advantage of, if we are all to be fed. Hope is held out in the form of voluntary, smaller, family sizes, but between "Global Warming" and Malthusian "Over Population" we (the species Homo sapien, among others) will be walking a tight rope for the next century.
It is the end to giant monocultures, that seems to be the lynch-pin in this scenario. It removes the need for fossil fuel fertilizers, and ends the need to till the land, allowing for the return of topsoil and the sequestration of CO2.
Native Americans, both north and south knew how to manage forests for food. Is seems it is time to put the grass farming behind us, and to look seriously at what was destroyed in the way of sylvan agriculture. Garnish and veggies supply important nutrients, but we still need calories that only fat and carbs can provide.
I await David, to try and pop by bubble of optimism ;O)
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