Friday, October 28, 2011

Gleaning Livestock Food

Here in the Holler we keep small animal livestock. Chickens for meat and eggs, rabbits and turkeys also for meat. And every other year the pair of pigs for meat. We don't keep large stock mainly because of the lack of fence and a large barn. Also at our age we just felt we were getting too old to be running cattle and slinging hay. The small animal manures are a major part of our gardening system and keep our garden soils healthy. So we supplement what we do grow with venison which is in abundance, wild game and buy an occasional side of beef from a local farmer. With increases in animal feed back in May I posted about ideas to grow extra animal food for the livestock.

You can find that post HERE

So we planted extra pumpkins, sunflowers, some field corn and squash so that we could feed our livestock through the summer and into fall. The chickens especially loved the extra tomatoes and all the culls that we threw to them. We did have feed custom ground to supplement the vegetables.

The pigs manged to eat well all summer and now weigh in at around 230 pounds. They loved just about anything we fed them but especially loved the pumpkins, and field peas were another big hit, bushes and all. We did keep a few of the peas for ourselves. They ate corn husks, tomatoes, apple and peach culls. Extra squash and those giant zucchini that invariably always end up hiding beneath the plant. Anything green left at the end of the garden went to the pigs.  

The rabbits loved the extra cabbage and greens along with windfall apples and field peas as well. They also enjoyed the sunflower heads and all the weeds we could pull them. They adored the green pea pods and would wait at the cage door for them. So in the end we didn't completely do away with the food bill but did manage to shave it considerably.

And we also picked up a few things along the way to supplement the vegetables and grain. We never knew that you could buy outdated bread at the day old bread store to feed livestock. We paid $10 for a truckload and although we didn't feed alot of it we did use it for the pigs along with the garden vegetables and custom ground grain and table scraps.

The other thing I learned is what a spoiled bunch of consumers we are in this country. Indeed O Wise One went to several people who sell at farmers markets and purchased their over ripe and bruised produce for next to nothing.

I was absolutely amazed at the amount of produce that is thrown away because of a bruise or blemish. Oh my gosh I could feed the world on this. We actually ended up educating one farmer on how to preserve and dehydrate some of that produce. So much so that they ended up buying a new dehydrator. We have converts. I found it so sad and just horrible that food goes to waste in this economy with so many homeless and hungry. If nothing else use it to feed livestock!

So when looking for ways to supplement that monthly grain bill just think outside the box. What do grocery stores do with their outdated produce and would they sell it for your livestock? What do truck farmers in your area do with their culls or maybe orchards have windfalls.

What did you feed your livestock this year that you produced?

Blessings From The Holler


  1. Oh what a great post I so agree with our spoinled ways statement. I used to work at a fast food store and they would throw out all the remnant buns and vegetables into the garbage. I started taking it home to feed our pigs. Eventually the workers would just bag it up and put in my pickup truck. I worked there for five years and our pigs were very healthy happy and we saved a lot of money. I guess that was the only reason I stayed working there so long. True story.
    You are very smart farmers. B

  2. Oops spell check "spoiled" ways is what I was going for. I should really read before sending not after. :) B

  3. Hubby & I enjoyed reading your post as we are learning to do our own farming of small livestock, so far just chickens. We too are looking to supplement feed and have done much research and communicating with others online. It helps to have others who have been through it that we can get support from.

  4. I used to be a dumpster diver when we had over 100 layers. Now I just buy old bread for treats. I know what a wasteful country we are. I love that you are doing things like teaching others and living by example. I enjoy your blog.

  5. Great post! Its amazing how much we waste in this country.I actually started doing the same thing and got my neighbors to stop throwing away certain things and start giving them to me to use for Animal Feed.


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