Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Midwestern Bio-Ag

This is a great company for those who wish to "go organic" or all natural.

I am not certified organic, I'm not certified natural, because we have in the past used conventional fertilizers on our fields. But I can tell you that all of my animals are fed feeds that are as natural as can be, are not fed hormones or injected with such things. I can tell you where they came from and what they've eaten.

I digress.

So when I got my first sheep from Cynthia Allen in Cazenovia, Wisconsin, I decided that if what works for her, would work for me, and why change what the sheep are used to?

Last thursday as I was at the closest MidWest Bio-Ag dealer, we were discussing how to fertilize my fields and pastures the clean and organic way, and how it will overall affect my feed and animals in a positive way. I'm hooked! Last fall we had taken feed and soil samples. While some of the numbers were well within what I thought was in our soil and feed, other numbers scared me. We were quite deficient in certain minerals!

So this is why I feed ALL of the things free choice:

1. Sea Kelp. Not only is it good for them, its good for all livestock and the manufacturers are taking wind of it by increasing the prices by nearly 25% in the past year. They are now $42 a 50# bag and I know that with my 45 animals eating it, they've gone through about 12 bags in the past year, give or take a little that was spilled and swept up.

2. Redmond Sea Salt. Another free choice, single ingredient. They go through this mostly in the fall for some reason. It tends to collect moisture from time to time, so just check it and replace as necessary. I'm so impressed with this product and how well they eat it. I'll write the story on it from the back of the bag;

" Many years ago when the mountains were being formed, near what is now known as Redmond, Utah, there existed a body of seawater. Over time it dried up and captured within the crystallization of the salt the wholesome minerals, which were in that pristine, unpolluted ocean. This ancient sea salt deposit was then buried under layers of sediment protecting it from modern man-made pollutions.

Redmond minerals simply takes this natural mineral sea salt, crushes and screens it to size, and makes it available as the best livestock salt on the market today. It is available in seven screen sizes as well as in a pressed block mineral salt lick.

Many producers report that when livestock are given this natural mineral, they refuse to eat other salts. They also report other benefits to their animals from feeding this natural mineral salt."

3. Sheep Mineral (from Midwest Bio Ag) The minerals in this mix are quite nice, and again fed free choice and as a single ingredient (are you counting tubs? we are up to three so far)
Calcium around 12%, Phosphorus at 6%, Magnesium 1%, Potassium 1%, Iron, Iodine, Manganese, Selenium, Sulfur, Zinc, Vitamin A, Vitamin D3, Vitamin E are all in this great bag of mineral. The sheep and goats are all feed this free choice and again it depends on the time of year that they eat it. They all seem to know when they need something.

4. Diatomaceous Earth (DE) blended with Di-Cal, Vitamin A and D, and Dynamin. This concoction is a 2:1:1:1/2 blend of DE, Di-Cal, Dynamin and Vit A & D respectively. Each component does something in its own way to help the sheep. Most notably the DE is a parasite controller, either dusted on or fed. Its not the greatest tasting, so its blended with better tasting ingredients. The Dynamin can be googled to all of the great reasons to feed it. All natural again.

5. My newest tub is a midwest bioAg "SK Blend" for animals on pasture. Its a blended mixture of 50% salt, 45% sea kelp and is a great replacement for the Redmond Salt if unavailable. I figured I'd try a different salt approach that added in the Kelp (they eat the whole bin of kelp somedays...thought the salt would slow them down). Rather than replace the salt, I figured I'd just add another bin and they seem fairly keen to the idea. This blend has selenium, magnesium, sulfur, sodium.

When the animals are accustomed to being fed a certain way, I do not have to worry about the soil or feed being 'lacking' in any way, as for the most part the free choice minerals will help to balance the need. Of course there is no better way than amending the soil.

As a nutrionist, you realize that ruminants can only digest around 30% of what they need through free choice minerals, versus 80% from the hay/grass/pasture. its always better to have the minerals and vitamins in the feeds you are feeding, but if you can't, the free choice is better than hoping and guessing. And if they don't eat it, they either don't need it, or don't know what to do with it. Try adding some of these things to your loafing area and see how your sheep enjoy them :)


Michael Farm said...

Hi there - I currently feed my livestock sea kelp and I was told . Diatomaceous Earth was great but the two may have too many minerals if fed together. What's your feeling on this? I have goats and equines. Thanks!

Garrett808 said...

I feed such a small amount of DE that I don't think its a big concern. If your animals haven't always had it around I would introduce it slowly so they don't 'over eat' it. I've never had a problem with it and they normally don't eat them both at the same time, usually it depends on the weather and environment around them.

Becky Utecht said...

Great to see all your recent posts Garrett! Wow, you really do have a lot of tubs for your animals. I tried sea kelp about 5 years ago and my sheep would not touch it. Eventually I had to throw it away. Maybe if I would try it again the reaction would be different. So far they have done quite well on their regular mineral supplement.
What did the Midwestern Bio-Ag people say about fertilizing your fields? We are considering fertilizing our deficient old hay fields this summer. With hay prices the way they are, we figured the more we could get the better.

Deborah said...

I was surprised to see that you feed the same mineral to your goats and sheep since goats need a lot more copper than sheep. In fact, most of the sheep minerals I've looked at also have molybdemun in them, which binds with copper, making it difficult for the animal to actually utilize. Having had problems with goats and copper deficiency, I'm rather paranoid about it now. Interestingly enough, in New Zealand, they are starting to see copper deficiency in sheep now. And in the US, they are starting to research the use of copper oxide wire particles as a dewormer in sheep.

Garrett808 said...

Deborah, If you read my post, it stated what minerals were in the sheep mineral i use. there is no molybedenum. Also of note is that i feed my goats a goat chow which has more than their daily need for copper. I am also aware of the difference in the sheep vs goat copper levels as I am an animal nutritionist. I have also heard of deficiencies of copper in sheep, however little copper they need, they still need it. My sheep mineral has copper but its as very very very tiny levels. I'd be happy to discuss this further if you like privately.

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