One of the important roles of the small scale farmer is to care for the animals that are part of any farm or holding. The primary role of domesticated farm animals is about productivity and are an integral part of farming or homesteading. Farm animals can contribute, meat, eggs, fibre, and manure.
We often only think of our pets as domesticated animals but poultry, sheep, cattle, goats, horses and pigs and so on have been domesticated animals in the sense that humans have been cultivating these species for hundreds, even thousands of years for the purpose of providing food and other resources.
To enable a domesticated farm animal to be productive for us we need to have a responsible and respectful relationship. This is the basis of animal husbandry.
We are responsible for caring for our animals and this involves, housing, feeding, health, their welfare, the environment they live in, and handling them without injury either to them or us.
At Wynlen House we consider how you raise, feed and care for your animals is vitally important. We care about what they eat, their health, their housing and their environment. They live happy lives and this is very important to us. An animal that lives a happy healthy life will provide quality food. So just as with organic gardening you need vigorous healthy soil so that you have vigorous health plants, we also believe you need vigorous, healthy, happy animals to raise healthy meat, eggs or milk.
Animal Welfare is a ‘Duty of Care' obligation.
The RSPCA Australia believes that farm animal husbandry and management practices should provide for the behavioural, social and physiological needs of the individual animal and not cause unnecessary injury, suffering or distress. As a new farmer how do I know when my goose or chicken is happy or conversely, when it is in distress? Unless we begin to learn the basics of animal care, in the same way we are prepared to learn about growing vegetables, we will not be able to meet our duty of care and will unintentionally allow our animals to suffer.
A respectful relationship with our farm animals can be a very rewarding one and learning about the behavioral needs of your farm animals is as important as learning about their feed requirements. To this end I build a turkey gym for my turkey poults when they are confined to a hover in their early weeks. Turkeys are curious and out-going birds, they love a challenge. The gym allows them to hop up on a pole, like a roundabout, which swings around when they add their weight to it. They just love it. It meets their need to have their curiosity engaged and in experiencing something new. I also hang shinny pie plates which catch the light and creates great interest.
As they grow they like to participate in farm activities. - including investigating the tractor and grabbing free rides on the trailer whenever they can. It's important to make sure your animals are psychologically fulfilled and able to engage in their natural and instinctive behaviours. Its like giving a cat a scratching pole or a dog a chewing toy. Its important to have that stimulation, especially when animals are young and confined for their safety and physical needs, before they are ready to tackle the world as teens or adults. I know you are probably thinking that I'm an indulgent crazy woman about now but I have to disagree. I Find that making sure my animals are well cared in all ways accounts for the best eggs in town and the most delicious roast chicken you have even eaten!
Our Animal Husbandry workshop is in early July, on farm in Braidwood. "Raising poultry and Small Farm Animals Organically" is on Sunday July 9th from 9.30am. Come along and see how we raise our farm animals and learn how to best raise yours.