Friday, January 9, 2009

Job Descriptions For Livestock?

If you live on, and operate a farm or homestead, have you ever given any thought to writing up a "job description" for your livestock? You think I've gone off the deep end, I know, it's not like they are paid employees. Or are they? Let's think about that.

Lets look at your job as farmer/homesteader. In the grand scheme of Creation, you are the steward of the land. You have the ability to reason, the animals do not. You have the ability to solve problems, the animals act on instinct. Thus, your job is to think. Yup, now you really think I've lost my marbles. Truly, that is your job. Yes, you have chores to do every day, so do I. But when you get right down to the nitty-gritty, your job is to think about the best ways to grow your livestock in a healthy environment, minimizing your workload, and getting the best return on your investment. That's your job description, now let's talk livestock.

The principle is simple, really, animals were created for very specific purposes. Cows eat grass and poop. The question to ask, then, is how can you use the cattle's natural abilities to manage your land? In other words, your job is to think about what your goals are for your land and figure out how to let the animals work for you. That's where actually writing down a job description for your livestock really comes in handy. It gives you a real sense of the livestock, what they are meant for, and how to use them.

For example, since we know that cows eat grass, and you have a lot of it, what can you do to maximize (or leverage) the cattle in order to manage the pasture in a way that it remains healthy and vibrant and continues to produce? Can you install portable fencing and begin a strip grazing program, or MiG program? Can you utilize the cows in a way that would minimize your outputs, like tractor fuel for brushhogging, or hiring that job out? Instead of making hay, let the cattle eat it as standing hay. Let them do the work for you.

We raise meat chickens and egg layers. Their job descriptions are to get fat while fertilizing the pasture with the golden N in their poop, eat grass and bugs and provide meat-that's the meat birds. The layers' job description is to grow up eating grass and bugs, providing insect control and fertilizer and lay eggs.

For the meat birds, we leverage their manure for the pasture and orchard by keeping them in chicken tractors. This confined area not only keeps them safe, but concentrates the manure where we want it. This is putting the livestock to work for you. Can you see, that once you have written this job description out, you have a whole new understanding of how to utilize their natural abilities?

Now to answer the above question, are they paid employees? I believe that they are. They work hard for you and you reward them with food and treats everyday, that's their pay. Just like I go to a "town job" to produce for someone else, so the animals go to work to produce for us.

Now, do you still think I'm losing it? Write down job descriptions for your livestock, it will open up a whole new world in the way you think.

1 comment:

Marci said...

Actually, that is an excellent idea. The farm animals should have a purpose and give back to the farm. We try not to keep anything that does not pay its own way. That is why we got rid of our goats. They were a feed bill. We did get milk from them, but with a milk cow, we did not need the milk. Our dogs are companions, and supposed watch dogs. :) The cat is not in my opinion needed, but maybe he really is eating a mouse here or there.