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Old 02-20-2009, 03:16 PM
 
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I was just thinking the other day how amazing it is that animals can be used to help rear other animals. For instance on one of the dairy farms we have Corgi Dogs that round up cows. I have sheep and so I could use Border Collies to round up sheep. I have a Miniature Schnauzer that I use to keep rats and mice down to a minimum, and a BlackLab that makes a perfect guard dog. For those that don't know, Miniature Schnauzer's were originally bred to chase rats on a ship. This is nice because it keeps my rodent control in check without resorting to poison.

Of course I could use a donkey or llama to protect my sheep from coyotes, but that means feeding animals that I can't eat. Instead I use bulls which coyotes do not bother. They are not as aggressive at protecting the sheep then Donkey's but they certainly taste better and their mere presence tells coyotes to an easier meal can be had elsewhere!

Of course if a person was clearing land, then putting goats into a paddock first would knock the brush down, while sheep would take out all the weeds. Next cows could come in and graze on the grass. For any stumps that were left, pigs would root them out in a few days time if you dump a little salt on them. Of course chickens or guinea hens placed with the animals would feed on the insects and fly larvae living in the manure reducing parasitic loads on all the livestock. With proper rotation and careful management what you would be left with is a pasture that used animals to bring it under under control rather that chainsaws and brute strength. It would be agro-forestry at its best that is for sure.

I just brushed on a few ideas on how to use animals to help around the farm. Please keep the thread going. If you can think of unique ways that animals can be used to do multi-tasking, chime on in. This could be a very imformative for a lot of people. I mean how many people knew pigs could replace stump grinders, or that sheep love posion ivy and will grub it out as it is their favorite meal, or that bat houses near the house and barn to keep the misquito and fly population down considerably?
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Old 02-20-2009, 03:18 PM
 
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I just thought of another one...we have put gold fish in our cows stock tanks for years. The gold fish eat the algae in the watering tank and keep the water a lot cleaner. Surprisingly the cows do not bother the gold fish nor does it bother them having it swim around in their drinking water.
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Old 02-21-2009, 06:20 AM
 
Location: Nebraska
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Interesting, BT. Goldfish? I assume that you also use tank heaters, both to keep from going around to the tanks every day and breaking the ice with a crowbar so the cows can eat, and to keep the goldfish alive?

The weirdest thing I've noticed out here is that - there is NO ALGAE. I don't know if it is the purity of the water, the sandiness of the soil that purifies it, or what - but there is no algae, not in the stock tanks and not in the decorative pond out front.

Out here the bulls and the horses (still used for herding) keep down the coyotes. A local fellow raises greyhounds and teaches them to hunt coyotes as well; but again, the greyhounds are not eaten. They are considered rather like calling in an exterminator when there is an infestation (or when there are too many cows and too few bulls).

Geese are excellent watchdogs and CAN be eaten, as can their eggs. Free-range chickens not only keep down weeds, but if used around a garden as a fenced-in "chicken moat" will keep insects out of a garden; they can even cut 'way down on a sudden infestation like locusts. Roosters will attack smaller predators, at least in daylight. Cats are useful for rodents and snakes in the barnyard. I have heard that terriers work well for this as well but most terriers I've seen are too overbred and excitable to be anything but pocket pups for the house.

Corgis herd? I know that they use Austrailian shepherds and border collies here. I would think that the Corgis would be too small and ignored, especially on large and high-grassed acreage.

I agree that pigs and goats clear land excellently but the problem is fencing. The three-strand barbed wire that forbids the cows and horses is invisible to pigs and goats if they want something on the other side of it! Putting up and taking down the welded "pig fence" from plot to plot is a pain in the a**! One of my friends stakes her goats out on a chain to clear a circle; but then water is an issue. How do you utilize them?
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Old 02-21-2009, 10:35 AM
 
Location: Interior AK
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Another nifty use for pigs... if you shed or barn your cows in the winter, you can add a few handfuls of corn in between layers of new straw bedding. Come spring, the corn has turned alcoholic and the pigs will root through the used bedding to get to it. So you get pre-turned beginning compost rather than having to break it up and shovel it yourself.

In addition to insect pests and weeds, chickens are also excellent to control snakes and lizards... and some breeds will even take on rodents. Ducks, especially Muscovy and Khaki, are excellent for controlling slugs & snails in the garden.

I've also heard that putting a couple of goat wethers in a field with pastured chickens help reduce aerial predation, but I haven't tried that yet.
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Old 02-23-2009, 12:42 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SCGranny View Post
Corgis herd? I know that they use Austrailian shepherds and border collies here. I would think that the Corgis would be too small and ignored, especially on large and high-grassed acreage.
Corgis were bred as herding dogs. They work better then any other dog because they drive the cows by nipping at their ankles.They are so short that when the cows kick,the trajectory swings right over their head.

Grass is not an issue either, when you see the cows move, you know a Corgi is right behind them. Surprisingly they were never trained, or at least ours never were. They just do what they do because that's what they were meant to do. In fact on the farm we had a group of heifers that kept getting out of their fence. The dogs would be in the house, see them get out, then run outside and coral them back in. It got to be "their job", so we stopped putting up the fence. The corgis kept them in all summer.

Last week we did have an injury though on one of the Corgis. We were driving a heifer into a stall and we had a visitor in the barn. The dog drove her in but the visitor,not knowing any better, stepped in front of the heifer so she backed up and stepped on the dogs paw...then turned. We have Holsteins of course so this was a 1000 pound cow and it ripped the pad right off her paw. She's sore, but will heal.
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Old 02-23-2009, 12:57 PM
 
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Originally Posted by SCGranny View Post
Cats are useful for rodents and snakes in the barnyard. I have heard that terriers work well for this as well but most terriers I've seen are too overbred and excitable to be anything but pocket pups for the house.
When we had chickens (50,000 broilers) we had to get dogs to chase rats because the chicken feed has arsenic in it and the rats became immune to most poisons. (They put arsenic in the chicken feed so that the chicken drink more water and thus get fatter faster). We no longer raisechickens, but the dogs worked so well that we still have them.

Even the little lap-dogs will chase a rat or mouse if they see one. No dog is more spoiled then mine, and yet when he sees a rat or a snake...he is another animal altogether...vicious until the kill is over. It really has to be seen to be appreciated.

As for cats...never seen on any farms here. A few years ago skunks got quite a few rabid and soon every farmer in the County was going for shots. Many farmers here do not have health insurance to cover the expensive rabies shots, so the USDA ended up getting an emergency grant or something to help the farmers.The outbreak was that bad. In the meantime, a person that did not mind shooting cats could make a lot of money hunting them down on farms. I remember one conscientious farmer paid a diesel mechanic to hunt cats on his farm because he could not do it. The problems with cats is, the first few are easy to kill, but then they kind of get gun shy so it gets expensive paying a disel mechanic 50 bucks an hour to smoke cats rather instead of fixing your corn chopper.
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Old 02-23-2009, 04:48 PM
 
Location: Back in New York
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[quote=BrokenTap;7593102]When we had chickens (50,000 broilers) we had to get dogs to chase rats because the chicken feed has arsenic in it and the rats became immune to most poisons.

Now I know not to buy chicken again...lol...why would chicken feed have arsenic in it?

Rats are incredible animals and adapt so well to most things. I am amazed by them.
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Old 02-23-2009, 09:55 PM
 
Location: Nebraska
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But... but... isn't arsenic a metal? Aren't its poisonous properties dependent on a buildup in the intestines and kidneys? How do you (ok, well, how does a rat) become immune to it? I'm very puzzled by this...

Weird. We only fed our chickens corn.
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Old 02-24-2009, 12:02 AM
 
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Originally Posted by SCGranny View Post
But... but... isn't arsenic a metal? Aren't its poisonous properties dependent on a buildup in the intestines and kidneys? How do you (ok, well, how does a rat) become immune to it? I'm very puzzled by this...

Weird. We only fed our chickens corn.
Because they build up a resistance to it. They keep nibbling away on the chicken feed until they reach a point where they are immune to a certain dosage of it. Once that resistance level has passed the amount of arsenic in the rat poison, they are immune to it.

The good thing about the Schnauzers are, they don't eat the rats afterwords because if they did, then they would get sick from all the arsenic in the rats. The dogs did not have the resistance level to arsenic that the rats had.

As for heavy metals, a lot of feed has heavy metals in it. For instance cow grain has lots of copper and zinc in the feed, which the cows need, but sheep can not tolerate. That is why sheep should never be given cow grain.
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Old 02-24-2009, 09:21 AM
 
Location: Back in New York
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Originally Posted by BrokenTap View Post
Because they build up a resistance to it. They keep nibbling away on the chicken feed until they reach a point where they are immune to a certain dosage of it. Once that resistance level has passed the amount of arsenic in the rat poison, they are immune to it.

The good thing about the Schnauzers are, they don't eat the rats afterwords because if they did, then they would get sick from all the arsenic in the rats. The dogs did not have the resistance level to arsenic that the rats had.

As for heavy metals, a lot of feed has heavy metals in it. For instance cow grain has lots of copper and zinc in the feed, which the cows need, but sheep can not tolerate. That is why sheep should never be given cow grain.
interesting but why specifically aresnic in chicken feed? Is it intentionally in the feed or is it crappie conditions where the feed is purchased? Zinc and Copper I could understand but I didn't think arsenic had any place in farm feed.
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