"Square Foot Livestock"?


The Living Force
This is just an idea that occurred to me as I was reading about square foot gardening - could this or other bio-intensive methods be used to grow enough feed for an animal raised for protein and fat (cow, goat, chickens, etc.) in a relatively small space? Could a person find a way to grow enough grasses to feed a cow in a lawn of limited size by some means?

The official Square Foot Gardening seems to have a vegetarian slant, but I was wondering if that could be turned on its head - could intensive gardening techniques allow for the raising of livestock in places or situations in which there is no natural grazing area?

Just a peculiar idea.


Jedi Council Member
It is called tic tac toe fencing. By building several different areas to rotate the stock in it keeps the land from being completely torn up and full of bacteria that is unbalanced leading to parasites and disease in the stock. Only draw back is price of fencing. Also the labor of having water and shelter in several different areas is a lot of hard work. After the cost of fencing/supplies all other costs are cut down due to fresh forage and less need for invasive care because of the healthier living environment.


Dagobah Resident
Alternatively, try rabbits, chickens, or even insects.

Never contemplated eating an insect? Take a look around the following site: _https://edibug.wordpress.com/list-of-edible-insects/_

United Gnosis

Jedi Council Member
That is where the concept of livestock tractors come in. Instead of the prohibitive time/energy for complex fencing, a single lightweight mobile pen (a "tractor") us built as a permanent shelter for livestock that is moved to a fresh patch of land on a frequent basis. Very popular with chickens and sometimes rabbits, I also heard of it being applied for small numbers of swine.

More specifically for high-yield in restrained/urban environments, vertical gardening/etc can be used to generate fodder for livestock. Aquaponics is also popular for optimization of productivity in small spaces: an organic approach to hydroponics, fishlive in a tank whose water v(and thus fish droppings) is circulated to feed plants that are hung above the tank. You get to have fish and nutritious plants of your choosing to fulfill specific functions in your design, be it medicinal/aromatic herbs, feeding livestock or what have you.

Permaculture definitely has very worthy insights in the field of intentional integrated ecosystem design.

Mr. Premise

The Living Force
There are hydroponic systems for growing fodder inside, then feeding it to pasture animals. So with these you could confine the animals in barns, but they would still get the benefits of grass-fed. Lots of shoveling of manure, though. It would have to be done every day.

Here are a couple of links:



Auquaponics seems like a great idea - a mini fish farm with hydroponic vegetables on top. You're in the northeast like I am, catfish will survive year round if the pond is 2' deep. You could grow a lot of food in a small space. The grow beds clean the water and get nourishment from the fish waste. But then there's that whole investment thing...


The Living Force
Fwiw i can usually get enough scraps from the two grocery stores in town to feed at least two pigs. Also if you catch trucks delivering bread etc they will usually have product they need to throw away. Here in Alberta one can can go to the alberta potatoe growers association for as many free potatoes as one can haul. They provide good protein and energy for pigs. Whatever you grow or aquire would need a high protein content for swine. Also Mcgavins bakery in the city will give on as much bread as one can haul. Not an ideal food but there are always a lot of gluten free breads that come with it.
Just some ideas.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Rabbits and cavies can be grown intensively on very little land by making stacked homes for them.
There is a good book out there called Barnyard in your Backyard, worth a read.
There are miniature breeds of cattle, some backyard size.
Here is something from World Affairs Brief today on the subject of choosing a good breed of chicken to raise:

Spring is the time to order baby chicks, but choosing the right breed for a self-sufficient flock can be challenging considering there are over 60 varieties just among the common breeds (for a good interactive this list). The best all-around breeds must lay well, be big enough for meat, forage well (less feed costs), and reproduce on their own. Chickens are an excellent way to start out in animal husbandry because they are easy to care for and turn grains, bugs, and plants into excellent eggs and meat. The key is to find a variety that will still hatch out their own chicks.

Rhode Island Reds and White Leghorns are common on farms today because they are great egg layers and still have 7 or 8 lbs of meat. They won’t dress out like what you see at the store because they almost exclusively sell the “Cornish Cross” (a cross of White Cornish and White Plymouth Rock). Those meaty birds grow to an incredible 12 lbs in just two or three months! But they don’t lay eggs or reproduce well and many die early because their heart and bones are weak from the fast growth.

If you are fortunate enough to live on a few acres of land, consider some of the better foraging birds. Small, lithe, “heirloom birds” similar to wild birds, like Buckeyes, that can survive almost on their own (given enough foraging space) but they don’t lay many eggs or grow much meat. Most birds learn to forage if allowed to free range including Rhode Island Reds and non-white leghorns. Free-foraging birds can be hard to keep out of your garden and prized flower beds, but their eggs are much more nutritious with bright orange yolks. They also keep bugs down and spread their high nitrogen fertilizer around your property (unlike typical chicken coops and runs that get smelly). If you make a moveable coop as discussed in my previous tip, you can let them out occasionally or move them around the yard still confined for the best of both options.

The hardest characteristic to find in modern breeds is the “broody” mothering instinct—where a hen will sit on a “clutch” of eggs until hatched and then raise them. Replacing the mother hen is a lot of work with incubators, egg-turning, heat lamps, special food, and careful integration into the flock so the old hens don’t pick at them. A mother hen does all this and more even with eggs that aren’t her own. Most popular breeds have this instinct bred out of them because they stop laying during broody times. Rhode Island Reds and Leghorns, for instance, are not instinctive breeders.

The Silkie Bantam, a small, fluffy-feathered bird, is one of a few breeds that still has a strong broody instinct and will hatch and care for chicks. Silkies alone won’t make a flock since they lay smaller (and fewer) eggs and are small on meat but they may be a critical step toward a self-sustaining flock. Breeds (like those below) still have the broody instinct, but may have forgotten it after so many generations raised by incubators. In this case get a Silkie to start a new generation of eggs and teach the others mothering again.

Some impressive all-around breeds: The Plymouth Rock is the quintessential American farmyard chicken—and for good reason. They lay well, grow decent meat, are keen foragers and go broody. The Barred Rock variety is ideal because the black and white feathers are good camouflage in shady areas and it is alert enough to avoid many predators. Old farmers were very impressed with them. Similar varieties are the Sussex and Wyandotte which are cold hardy, easygoing, and large heirloom type breeds.

Day old chicks are shipped to you in warm boxes but need immediate care as soon as they arrive. Your local post office may call you as soon as they arrive (at 5am) to come pick them up. Here are some good tips for raising chicks from robertsranch.com including use of wheatgrass for an immune boost. [END]
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