Summer Feeding

By mid-Spring, we move from our Winter to our Summer Feeding schedule.  The goal of this feeding schedule is to eliminate the feeding of grains and hay.  Grains cost more in Spring/Summer because farmers empty their silos in April for the harvests coming, so we want to avoid grains until September when they are filled again.  We also want to avoid feeding hay as much as possible when grass is available.  However, we also want to maximize health and production, so a balance is needed.

SHEEP

Our sheep are used as lawnmowers all summer, being moved about the property wherever there’s grass to “cut”.  We mow the grass along the road and main driveway, but the sheep take care of the rest.  Rather than spending money on gasoline and blowing sheep feed into the road, we turn it into wool and meat.  We have our little children lead them about and watch them, but you can also use movable netting to do this.

  • no grains
  • pasturing in morning and evening
  • fresh water

GOATS

Our goats are used for weed and brush control all summer, being moved about through trees and garden beds to eat weeds and their seeds.  My daughters taken individual goats on simple rope halters to spot-weed and the goats are eager to do so.  This eliminates spraying and unpleasant garden work.

  • no grains
  • foraging in morning and evening
  • fresh water

CATTLE

At this time of year, we have cows in milk, weaned calves and heifers/bulls at varying ages.  It is breeding season, so our best bull is left in with the cows during the month of March or April for January of February calving.

  • grains for milking cows, breeding bull
  • no grains for heifers, calves
  • fresh dairy-quality hay (always dry, small bales set out twice daily)
  • fresh water

PIGS

Since the pigs are kept in a pen, their diet never changes.  However, we butcher as many pigs as possible to avoid summer grain purchasing which is more expensive than winter grain purchasing.

  • 4 lbs. grain per head
  • kitchen waste (“slop”)
  • fresh water (allowed to overflow to create mud baths downhill)

HENS

The hens are in their peak laying mode at this time of year, so they earn their keep and are fed well.  Our farm/garden compost pile is kept in the chicken’s range area, so they have all summer to dig through that, pull out weed seeds, worms, ants, etc..

  • 1/4 lb. layer mix per hen
  • fresh water
  • range for insects, seeds

HORSES

The draft horses need hay added to their pasture and lots of water.  As they work occasionally during the summer, they are kept on grain.

  • grains as usual
  • 1 bale quality dry hay in morning
  • free pasturing
  • fresh water
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