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Book review

LOST, AND LOOKING FOR ITS HOME

: Someone left a serving platter (white Corelle with green flowers) at the Annual Meeting in Ethel last November; contact Corrie Pronk at (519) 338-5541.

"All things are connected like the blood which unites one family...man did not weave the web of life: he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself."

From Chief Seattle's reply to a U.S. government offer for Indian land, 1854.

 

GET A LIFE...A GREEN CURE FOR CANADA'S ECONOMIC BLUES

By Wayne Roberts, John Bacher, and Brian Nelson

(Editor - Bob Budd isn't the only one who likes this book. Phil Beard stopped me in the hall of MVCA, to exclaim about this book, "It's really excellent!" Phil figures everybody should read it.)

If you're someone like myself who sees our current approach to ecomonics as an exercise in short term gain for long term oblivion, you'll appreciate the book.

Largely it's about inspiring people to look around themselves to see and grasp the possibilities. It does a good job of pointing out the many negative impacts to people and the environment that the government policies and self-centred corporate agenda create.

As well, the book provides a wealth of cutting commentary and quotable quotes such as, "It's not a matter of whether the economy can afford our health system, but whether our health system can afford our economy!"

The case is made that the real cure for Canada's `jobless' recovery is for ordinary people to master the skills to grow their own green economy that they, and their children can live with. Although the authors suggest ways that government policies could be changed, the focus seems to be on a pro-active "If people will lead, leaders will follow" sort of approach.

The format, along with the fast-paced, in-your-face style makes it very readable. All in all, I recommend it and at $14.00 postage paid, it makes for good household economics.

By Bob Budd

The book is available from: Get a Life Publishing, 2255 B Queen St. E., Suite 127, Toronto M4E 1G3 at $14.00. We also have a copy in our library.

HOT NEWS FOR TURKEYS

By Larry Ross

RR # 3, Clifford, N0G 1M0

Since keeping turkeys, blackhead has been a problem for me from the second year on. For those not familiar with blackhead, this is a disease caused by protozoans. It can kill a flock of turkeys in less than a month. Protozoans are single-celled, microscopic animal life. (The Ministry of Agriculture's factsheets have good descriptions of all types of poultry diseases.)

I have tried several natural remedies to kill the protozoans responsible. I started looking for something else after my trails with garlic powder proved only partially effective. Although I've only tried it one year, I've had excellent results with cayenne powder. I use it at a rate of 1 rounded tablespoon per 20 litres of chopped feed. Cayenne isn't water soluble, but it still works in the drinking water. I use the same rate, allowing the cayenne to soak and then stirring the mixture well. The water method is essential for the sicker birds who won't eat. During the outbreak of 1993, I used cayenne in both the feed and water at first. Later on, I put it in the feed only.

Cayenne does more than just prevent and cure blackhead in turkeys. It is also seems effective in preventing and treating coccidiosis in chickens and turkeys.

With range birds it is difficult to ensure all the birds are consuming the cayenne-treated feed and water. If the birds are penned up at night, give them their treated feed before letting them out for the day.

Cayenne has several advantages. The flavour of the meat was not affected. (I kept the birds off cayenne for three days before slaughter.) Being a food substance (for humans), cayenne bypasses registration as a drug, a lengthy and expensive process. This makes it relatively cheap - often for as little as $5/lb. through a meat processor. This is a real bargain compared to Emtryl at $30 - 40.00 per 500 mg!

LIMING

By Hubert Earl

(Hubert Earl believes you'll see far more benefit applying lime, than you're likely to see applying nitrogen. Find out why he says this, and what liming has done for his crops.)

The soil is the farmer's most important resource. However, the continual use of fertilizer, pesticides, poor land management practices, plus poor initial soil structure, and acid rain have led either to soil compaction and/or soil acidity. Although much of our Ontario soil is derived from bedrock high in calcium, such factors have caused an imbalance of calcium in the top 6 or 7" of soil. This often impedes the growth and quality of later crops.

Lime is considered an indirect fertilizer. It is not regarded as a plant food, and shouldn't be. However, it is just as essential to plant growth and life, as are the major nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus and potash). Livestock producers recognize forage crops as their best source of calcium, yet too few realize that calcium-deficient soil will produce calcium-deficient crops. Even if the soil is rich in the essential elements, it is absolutely useless for growing crops without sufficient calcium or lime. Green or composted livestock manures are also of little value if there isn't enough calcium to activate decomposition, and unlock the major nutrients. Liming yields another benefit. Earthworms, essential for fast manure recycling, soil aeration and mixing, are said to double in population within 30 days of liming.

Garden crops such as the nightshade family (tomatoes, peppers, potatoes) and the brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower) and celery are also heavily dependent upon calcium. Alfalfa, clover root crops, soybeans, grasses, small grains and even corn all require lime in substantial quantities.

We've observed that when lime was applied to pastures and older hay fields, there was a sudden resurgence of red and white clovers in astonishing masses. Vaughan Jones, a renowned authority on pasturing, reinforces with our observations and thinking: "You don't lime for pH. You lime to get calcium into your forage and to get clover. You can have a high pH/low calcium soil and you won't get clover. Clover is to the dairymen what oil is to the Arabs. You absolutely must have it for high milk production and low costs." So, while many farmers consider nitrogen most important, I believe that applying ground limestone is far more beneficial.

Initially, a soil test can help determine soil acidity or the absence of lime. However, on our farm we believe that the forage, and not the soil, should be tested for minerals. After all it's the forage that our livestock eat. Also, a pH test does not reveal what calcium levels are present in our hay, haylage, pasture and small grains. Some farmers use the presence of dandelions in pastures and hay fields as an indicator of low levels of calcium. This is something we intend to monitor.

Much advice exists on the amount of lime to apply and at what times. Personally, we feel it is better to apply a small amount of lime every year, rather than a large dose at one time. For example, 1500 lb./acre each year for 3 years is better than 4500 lb./acre all at once. Lime can be applied in spring or fall on pastures and hay fields. Ours is spread in the spring. On cropland, it should be applied after ploughing and then immediately incorporated in by disking or cultivating. It can also be applied after a grain harvest and then incorporated. It's critical to apply raw, green or composted manure at least several weeks in advance of liming. Applying them at the same time just ties them both up.

There is probably no other aspect of farm soils that can increase your productivity and profitability like the continual use of lime. Start with your garden or take a few fields, apply ground limestone and assess the results. Leave a check strip or area to compare performance. I suspect you will be pleasantly surprised. In most instances, calcitic limestone is preferable, being faster-acting than dolomitic limestone. However, in areas where magnesium levels are low, dolomitic limestone should be considered. To spent money wisely, look for a source which has: 40% total calcium, 100% neutralizing value, and an Agricultural Index of 75.

MANURE STORAGE

(As a general rule, ecologically-minded farmers have great respect for the resource their manure represents. As such, they try treat it well. Still, there's room for improvement. The following articles looking at the benefits of having manure undercover, and one member's experience in following through.)

UNDERCOVER MANURE

Anne Loeffler

Maitland Valley Conservation Authority

An environmentally responsible manure storage should either contain or prevent all runoff. When rain falls directly onto an open solid manure storage, runoff is created. If this polluted runoff reaches nearby watercourses or field tiles, it can harm livestock, ruin human recreation and destroy fish habitat. The traditional solutions have been a concrete runoff tank or an earthen runoff storage. The disadvantage of these options is that they require both solid and liquid manure spreading equipment to pump and spread the manure.

Roofed solid manure storages are becoming an increasingly popular alternative to runoff tanks. A roof over a solid manure storage prevents rainwater from reaching the manure. Nutrient losses are reduced because no runoff seeps away from the storage. This type of storage works best for operations using a relatively high amount of bedding. Some farmers are also successfully composting manure in their roofed storages.

In some watersheds, farmers may be eligible for a CURB grant to build a roofed manure storage. The CURB program offers grants to help farmers clean up on-farm sources of water pollution. Contact your local conservation authority to determine whether your farm is located in an eligible watershed.

WORKING WITH COVERED MANURE STORAGE

From notes by Alan Willits,

R.R. #1, Wingham, N0G 2W0 (519) 335-6422

Besides the benefits mentioned above, Alan went to covered storage because of its versatility. At times of the year when there's no manure, the storage can be used to house feed or equipment. If your operation changes, it will be of greater use than a concrete tank or lagoon, and doesn't present the same dangers. Looking back on the way he's done his storage, Alan thinks it's wiser to put up two buildings (i.e. one of medium size, and one smaller), or section a large one into two areas. This gives you the option of separating the uses you're putting the storage to at the time, uses that change through out the year. In fall you may have bales in the large section, a put manure in the smaller part. By spring both will likely have manure.

For construction Alan has used a variety of methods: pole structure with pressure treated lumber; cement walls with a shed roof; and pole structure lined with 2x2x4' cement blocks. If you're having the building done for you he figures the second option to be the best. However you choose to build it, keep the following in mind: the floor should be concrete which is sloped to the back, as well as lipped on the back edge (6" min.) to prevent runoff; the roof must have a ventilated ridge cap; there should be walls on three sides to keep snow out; you must use enough straw to pack the manure well; and the smaller building should be large enough for use with a round bale feeder to provide covered feeding in spring and fall. Alan also cautions that if the storage is a lean-to alongside your main barn, you could have a gas build up in the loft of the main barn when manure is heating and composting.

BORN TO GRAZE

By Winifred Hoffman

Earliville, Illinois

(Some of the characteristics given for this breed should cause some pause for thought. Perhaps they're what your operation needs.)

While selection pressure in the conventional dairy industry has been for volume of milk alone, a unique minor breed - the Dutch Belted - has been preserving other valuable genetics. Some of these traits are now being recognized for their economic importance, especially to grass dairymen. Fertility, ease of calving, moderate size, mobility and eagerness to graze, freedom from metabolic and reproductive disorders, and friendly disposition are characteristics of this breed. All of these features are causing many farmers to take a second look at this breed long considered only a novelty.

Dutch Belted cattle originated in Holland prior to the 17th century. They were bred by the nobility for their special markings. They are totally distinct from the Holstein-Friesan. Nor should they be confused with the Belted Galloway, a strictly beef breed with heavy fur coat and stocky conformation.

Dutch Belted cattle were first imported to the U.S. in 1838, and have been continuously registered there since 1886. While these cattle were never numerous compared to other breeds, about 6,000 head were registered in the 1920's when interest in the breed peaked.

At the time, Dutch Belted cows topped all other breeds in several production trials. With the Great Depression, outbreaks of TB and Bangs, came the switch to selling milk based on volume rather than percentage of cream. The biases of experts advising farmers further contributed to the gradual decline of the breed, as it did for many other non-Holstein breeds.

Belted cattle have always been fascinating because of their unique, and highly heritable markings. Recently though, the Dutch Belted breed has seen renewed interest among grass dairymen seeking sources for crossbreeding on their Holstein or Jersey base. To the Holstein base, Dutch Belted sires offer greater calving ease, moderation of size, better disposition, reproductive efficiency, soundness of feet and legs, and aggressive grazing. To the Jersey base, Dutch Belted sires offer greater milk volume, improved size and vigour, higher survival rates of calves, better beef value, and milky quality of udders.

This breed is also being used in beef crossbreeding. Its remoteness from traditional beef breeds enables it to impart greater milk production and calving ease, higher dressing and cut-out percentage, and black pigmentation of eyes (which reduces pinkeye) and udders (which reduces sunburn).

Copyright 1994 Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.


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