Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Return from Joel Salatin

Joel Salatin is well known amongst healthy food and healthy farming circles. He's been a crusader for the grass fed meat industry in America. His family own and operate a business called Polyface Farm. Polyface Farm - the farm of many faces, is about growing and direct marketing pasture raised animals. It's about healthy farming and grazing practices and not only using all the land, but layering enterprises so you use more than you would with only one enterprise. This concept means that more people can be supported by the farm than would otherwise happen on a conventional farm. It means that farming is a worthwhile occupation for the kids to come home to!

He has built the health of his farm over many years, from a very degraded block of dirt through the use of animals. He believes that animals are an important link in rebuilding soil and regenerating degraded land. He and his family and other associates, grow and sell beef, pork, chicken, rabbits, eggs and vegetables. These are all integrated, with some enterprises using the same bit of ground, but at different times. For example, he calls his egg laying chickens his hygene and sanitation committee. They follow after the cows to scratch the manure around and eat any bugs, flies and parasites. These paddocks are then rested so that any that get missed don't find another host.

Joel has taken cell grazing to another level. He calls it Rational Grazing because the cows get one days ration each day - they are moved every day.  We have set paddocks and move the cattle depending on their mob size and the size of the paddock. Polyface work out how much the mob will eat in the day and then put a temporary electric fence up.

Farms need people and that to keep farming families on the farm, we need to create salaries for the family coming on. The idea is to add another enterprise to provide another income. So what are our layers going to be when I give up my full time job? I need to find my own income. We'll be looking at that to see what might suit best - maybe eggs or ducks, or fruit trees or nut trees. Maybe beef direct marketed along with the pork - or lamb (that's my favourite!)


  1. great to see a few reports from the day, it sounds like everyone enjoyed it. We saw Joel last year at the Sunshine Coast and it gave us plenty to think about (and now we've read 5 of his books as well). I'd love to know more about how you use these type of methods and how they work in Australian conditions.

  2. I'm intrigued by the idea of "layering enterprises". It makes sense to me (and may actually be part of my strategy without actually realising it), and is probably very appropriate for start-ups. Hmmm.... Definitely food for thought.

  3. I think the exciting bit is that you don't need alot of land to make something to cover your costs. Even if it's only a 20 acre block, you might be able to have chickens and a cow or goats as they utilise the ground differently. If you can make enough money to pay for the cost of the animals that supply you food, the cost is neutralised - if that makes sense.