The Importance of Animal Nutrition on the Farm
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Running a farm is no easy feat. You might feel like your to-do list gets longer every day, but you’d never give up the joy you get from working your land and raising animals. It comes with a sense of pride that has fueled generations of families, cultivating small farms around the world — the importance of animal nutrition.
Every farm has a slightly different purpose. You could grow a single crop and keep animals around for private use, like eggs and milk for your family. Animals could also be the sole purpose of your farm since they can make a significant profit if you raise them correctly.
If you have animals on your farm, don’t stop learning what you can do to help them. With the proper approach, you can feed your animals the food they need while maintaining or improving the sustainability of your farm. Here are five reasons why animal nutrition matters.
1. It Improves Animal Temperament
Everyone knows what it feels like to get hungry and not have anything appealing to eat. Not having access to the food your body needs leads to grumpy attitudes and discontentment. You might snap at people and not know why. Animals react in the same way, highlighting the importance of animal nutrition.
Without a proper diet of protein, carbs and healthy fats, animals begin to sour in their temperament. Chickens will fight with each other, and cows will refuse to stand still for milking. It makes it difficult to enjoy daily life on your farm, but with animal welfare guidelines, you can discover how best to care for the livestock on your property.
Every kind of animal will require a few differences in nutrition. Cows need carbs to produce milk without draining body fat as their source of energy. Chickens need carbs, too, but you must balance carbs with fruits and vegetables so they lay properly formed eggs. If you don’t pay attention to their nutritional needs, your livestock will feel a physical difference and that will affect their overall temperament.
2. Breeding Becomes Easier
When an animal eats daily food that keeps up their health, reproduction becomes easier. Still, some animals need specific nutritional additives alongside their usual routine of proteins and carbs. Many farm owners decide to raise sheep for breeding and wool. If you’ve struggled with low-quality wool and sheep that won’t catch, add phosphorus supplements to their diet to give them what pastures can’t. Phosphorus helps sheep grow faster and produce high-quality wool. It’s also known to improve reproductive performance, so it could be what your sheep are missing.
3. Your Farmland Benefits
Animals thrive when farmers meet their nutritional needs, but your property will prosper, too. Consider a cow’s diet. They graze for an average of 11 hours per day, which depletes the grass in your fields. The simple act of rotating their pastures can restore the nutrition found lacking in well-eaten grasses and take part in regenerative farming, a sustainable approach to maintaining a small farm. In just a few short years, regenerative agriculture will produce over $364 billion in profits, as more farmers start sustainable business practices. When you tailor nutrition according to the types of livestock you raise, it leads to all-natural and nutrient-focused feed sources. You’ll pass on buying mass-produced food, which is often made with chemicals to turn a quick profit. This simple choice reduces chemicals left to decay into the soil on your property, which prevents harmful chemical runoff that hurts the surrounding environment. It’s one of the ways farms unknowingly produce excess pollution, but you can put a stop to it by focusing on the nutrition your animals need.
4. Egg Production Increases
Whether you grew up on a farm and have decades of experience or are just starting your first homestead, you’ve probably considered raising a flock of chickens. Many people choose to begin with Cornish chickens, which are some of the best animals to raise. They require little care because they’re most independent, but improving their nutrition through their feed can increase their egg production. If chickens eat food low in calcium, they’ll take longer to lay eggs because the shells will require more time to form. When you increase the calcium in chicken feed through supplements or a change in food, eggs will become stronger in a shorter period, making it easier to collect eggs for your kitchen or hatch chicks.
5. Proper Nutrition Helps the Planet
Buying feed from mass production companies is easy. They make the food so it’s cheap to buy in bulk, but that isn’t good for your animals or the planet. Most feed corporations base their products on corn because it’s easy to grow in many environments. It’s one of the ways livestock feed destroys the global environment since corn doesn’t require crop rotation and thrives under chemical fertilizers and pest control sprays. Researching what your livestock needs in their diet can help you hone in on the best foods for them and steer you away from supporting companies that don’t care about how unsustainable they are.
Consider Your Livestock’s Feed: The Importance of Animal Nutrition
Think about what your farm animals need. Are they lethargic or grumpy most of the time? Do they not produce wool, milk or eggs like they should? Research their individual nutritional needs and see how you can help them with supplements or all-natural food. They’ll thrive when they’re eating what their bodies need, and the planet will thank you for using more eco-friendly farming techniques.
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About the author
Starting from an early age, Jane Marsh loved all animals and became a budding environmentalist. Now, Jane works as the Editor-in-Chief of Environment.co where she covers topics related to climate policy, renewable energy, the food industry, and more.