I haven't really blogged about my chook happenings on here because I've been trying to concentrate on native produce production. However, as it happens the chooks and the native produce are actually tied together, so they can come into the discussion as well.
This is a post I made on the Backyard Poultry forums, regarding a study in the EU which claimed that "intensive poultry operations were good for the environment". The whole premise seems to be bodgy in the extreme - you can see the thoughts in that thread itself - but I can't see the whole study so maybe I'm missing something.
One of the posters made a comment about getting back into eating red meat and supporting extensive (as opposed to intensive) agricultural pursuits.
This is my response.
Make sure you buy beef or lamb that does NOT proudly market itself as "grain-fed", because that's feedlot beef and lamb which is intensive beef and sheep farming. Grains are not the same as grass and sheep and cattle aren't actually designed to eat vast quantities of grains. It makes them fart a lot, apparently; very wasteful (of energy and of pollutants into the air!).
I learnt this from The Land. The more I read of the rural publications, the more I'm convinced I'll only buy direct from the farmer (I have a lot of choice in that regard out here, lucky me), from the local butcher (which, for the beef and lamb, is the same thing - he raises and butchers his own :) ), or something that absolutely guarantees itself as "pasture-fed". Not "organic" - you can feed organic feed to intensively-farmed animals - not "free-range" because that term can be twisted as well. "Pasture-fed", from birth to death.
Should I sell my own eggs, I'll be labelling them "bush-ranged". (I just realised that's actually a bit of a jokey term ... I didn't mean it but I like it). My chooks will be roaming around in native shrubbery and mulch and small grassy clearings, because that's what I'm on. I'd like to see someone twist _that_ term into marketing guff.
And it's excellent for my environment because my land is older, overworked pasture, invaded by a monoculture of she-oak which, while returning nitrogen to the soil when it dies, also produces a lot of highly acid needles as mulch, and keeps the underlying soil very shallow.
The chooks will turn over the mulch and expose the soil and add to it with their droppings. They'll make it less acid and, eventually, deeper. Other native plants will start growing. More native birds such as choughs will join them and turn over more mulch.
Now that's permaculture :)