What is the point of raising animals if you don’t eat them? Lots of reasons. Consider function, helping endangered species—and remember how stock density plays into all of that.
So many people ask me, “Why do you have animals if you’re plant-based?” The short answer is that animals offer way more function to the homestead than just meat. The long answer is that every animal contributes to our permaculture ecosystem here.
The horses provide pulling power, trail riding, manure for compost, and they are dead-end hosts for our sheep parasites. The sheep are dead-end hosts for horse parasites, keep the equines healthy. They also are a good fit for our natural grassy forage. Wool is just a plus. The grazing activity of both the sheep and horses maintain forageable cover crop growth and height, which is what encourages carbon absorption. Their droppings also return nutrients to our soils.
Ducks are great for our wetlands and for snail, slug, and pillbug control. Their eggs are sold at our farm stand and livestock conservancy duckling breeds are sold to help threatened populations. The geese eat the weeds left behind by the horses and sheep, graze lawns, lay eggs, and act as alarm bells for our duck flock. Guinea fowl graze our yards, woods, and pastures drastically decreasing our tick population. Our barn cats and invited native owls work to keep rodent populations in check.
Angela is the farmer and content creator behind Axe & Root Homestead® LLC. This historic six-acre permaculture farm is home to two Clydesdale horses, ten honeybee hives, five sheep, two guardian dogs, barn cats and a flock of 40 geese and ducks. The farm produces maple syrup, fruit from a small orchard and loads of garden produce for consumption, preservation and donation to the local food pantry.
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