Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Carrying Capasity - Now What are Ya Gonna Feed Em?
This year things have progressed to the point that I began the first tentative look into feed, grain and fodder production for the livestock.
At this point those of you who follow the blog will remember I have the useless nags in the field eating massive quantities of grass, grain and hay. Well forget about them because they are not part of this problem. My long term needs may incorporate one riding/work horse if I find I have the production to manage it. The excess horseflesh is BBQ for when the starving masses start begging plain and simple. They will not be carried long term I can tell you that.
The problem is a balance needs to be figured out between my available pasturage, hay fields and grain production needs to be squeezed into the mix. Not only that but to figure the amount of acreage I will need to seed and sow I have to come up with a reasonable yield amount estimate that takes into account the lack of purchased fertilizer and archaic methods of harvesting.
I started this by planting 1/10th of an acre of mixed corn varieties this Summer. My goal here is to use a variety that is not only palatable for human consumption but will also work for long term animal fodder.
In many ways I am still guessing on some points like field rotations and the like. Available manure for fertilization will ultimately be dependent on how many animals, at this point namely sheep, I can expect to keep fed. Also overall yields will be hit the more we as humans hit the crop without allowing it to dry into feed. Then there is the matter of keeping sufficient seed for the next year's planting.
As you can see this is a very long and complex issue with many variables and more than likely a large number of hidden variables I am not even seeing at present. Factoring in all the "Black Swans" would be impossible as well.
My initial numbers are coming in at a working base of twenty bushels of dried corn per acre. That's a damned poor number. In fact that is barely 1/10th of the production being made per acre with GMO seed and liquid fertilizer these days. I came up with this number using mostly an old open pollinated corn variety that was both palatable and feed worthy and counted that portion we consumed as part of the overall yield since we would be planting much more than we would use ourselves.
The next step is to begin calculations on just how far 20 bushels of dried corn would go towards feeding a single average sized sheep. I may also have to look at perhaps leaving behind the multipurpose corn idea and going with a variety more specifically geared towards feed production.
All I know at this point is the entire process is going to require some more research.
One advantage I do have is that most of the acreage I have available is tillable. I may complain about the lack of trees but it sure makes adjusting between hay, pasture and tilled land easy. No clearing to be done.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!