Monday, July 14, 2014
Sustaining Livestock - Salt and Other Minerals
Livestock need minerals. Not only is it easy to just go buy feed for our livestock these days at the local feed store but all of us also buy mineral supplements or licks of some type as well. How exactly those needs are going to be met in a grid down situation is something I have been researching and honestly I have not come up with a suitable solution for it yet.
Salt is probably the main mineral need of livestock and one that is mostly far from being available in most grazing pastures and plant life naturally. It has the advantage of being one of the easier minerals to come by however because it is also so well liked as a spice by humans. Salt has been mined, traded and used by humans for centuries and I imagine it will continue to be an available commodity for trading even after a grid down situation. Salt also has an advantage in availability because it is fairly common and there are many small salt mines or other types of resource areas that were used throughout the land that were closed years ago but can be reopened.
I know there are different types of salt and it isn't all table salt like we are used to for our own use so a bit more research into it maybe necessary. There is also the aspect of a delivery system. I know deer hunters at times around here were known to place salt in burlap or cheesecloth bags and suspend them over a large rock which allowed rain to slowly wash the salt down to form a salt lick.
Other minerals that are necessary for livestock well being are not as easily acquired or delivered in a useful way.
Zinc, Iron, Copper, Sulfur, Selenium and there are a few others. Many of the symptoms or problems associated with mineral deficiencies in stock animals were not even discovered until the the 1930's or later so they had to be common but unknown problems for centuries before they were discovered.
My guess is.... And this is just a guess I am working on. Would be a varied diet of vegetables one does not normally see as feed for these animals might eliminate much of the need for mineral licks and such in a long term grid down situation. I know it was once common for small farmers to sometimes use many different crops for livestock when seeds or whatever became available. I know after I started researching if crops like Pumpkins, Squash and Cucumbers could be fed to sheep safely several old farmers around here had stories of their fathers or grandfathers planting stuff like that directly thinking of using it primarily as livestock feed. One old guy even mentioned Yams or Sweet potatoes for the cattle. Many of these alternative foodstuffs contain minerals and nutrients that livestock need.
Personally my plan is to stock up on the mineral supplements we use and keep them stored while working out a rotation plan to extend their use as far as possible. The days of simply setting the various mineral and salt blocks out for constant use will end and I may go to a system where I allow the livestock access to them for a while and then remove them once again.
It's a problem I am slowly researching and working on and is by no means set in stone as yet but something all of us who plan on keeping livestock after a collapse should give some thought to.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!