You can have this mob grazing app for your farm. Read on.

For the last two years we have been experimenting with an Android app developed by Polymorph, who are based in Stellenbosch.

It records our daily moves. Exact (GPS based) size of the camp. Number of livestock moved into the camp. Time of move into and out of camp. Brix reading of the pasture. Type of animals. Weight of animals.

This is then exported to a website where you can monitor what is going on on your farm.

It works wonderfully. We (Polymorph and I) are now ready to take it to the market of high density grazing practitioners. Being a web based app it can be used anywhere in the world.

If you are prepared to pay $10 a month or $99 a year then please click here so that we can store your details. If we cannot get enough interested users then Polymorph will close this app. It is because the platform that they have been using, Parse, is closing in the new year.

The money paid by users will enable Polymorph to move away from the Parse platform and make the app usable on Apple devices too. It will also allow Polymorph to dedicate one of their IT engineers to this project to improve it as users want. The ability to mine the data in Excel is also planned. Different languages.

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Above is a photo of the online version where you can see what has happened on your farm. The red blocks are within the last week, the yellow the week before and the green the week before that.

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I clicked on the same camp (highlighted in blue) that features in the video. You can see the relevant information on the left.

Brix is the reading of the sugar and minerals in the grass. In essence the nutrient density. It goes up in summer and down in winter but has also been going up for us as organic matter increases in our soils. Considering that a cow is walking fermentation vat and sugar is the key to fermentation then the more sugar in the grass the better the fermentation and the healthier the cow.

In the video I refer to the free choice mineral lick. Click here if you want to learn more about this powerful tool for animal and soil health.

One of the upgrades to the app is to do the same recording for our outdoor laying hens. More about them here.

Most of the cattle you see in the video are at least 50% Limousin. Here is why this is my breed of choice.

Angus

 

 

Update on our outdoor chicken operation

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It has been a year since our colleague Rico left to start his own outdoor egg operation at Boschendal which is doing really well. It is also a year since we open sourced all our information. Click here for that. The one thing I forgot to add was that it is critical to galvanise the Eggmobiles. I am paying the price now for trusting in anti rust paint.

Before we get to the video a reminder that these eggs are free of Glyphosate. This is the active ingredient in the herbicide roundup and the photo above is worth studying. The increase in disease concomitant with the widespread use of Roundup Ready crops. There is an excellent video here by the retired geneticist Thierry Vrain on the subject of this poison that all South Africans ingest daily. It is now in vaccines and breastmilk.

Thanks to our mentor, Ray Davis, we keep lots of performance records. Below is our latest batch coming into production. This is a thing of beauty. Especially since these are not caged hens but outdoor birds exposed to the elements. Their sister’s performance is in column D and our in column C. They come to us from the cages at 19 weeks of age. We use only Amberlink hens.

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Finally I have updated our client list so you can see where to enjoy our eggs, either at a restaurant or at home. Click here.

Angus

22 October 2016

 

Free choice mineral licks. Update. Biological farming vs mechanical farming.

In February 2014  I wrote this article about free choice mineral licks.

Since then we have expanded the range of minerals that are available to our cattle and we also now have free choice minerals for our pigs and for our laying hens.

The principle remains the same. All soils are deficient, the plants growing in those soils are deficient, the animals eating those plants (in this case my beef) are deficient and deficiency manifests as disease. The cattle self medicate by choosing which lick they need. 30% is used to fix the internal imbalance and the rest comes out of the back end biologically available to the plants.

In the last year I have had to give one of my animals antibiotics. One injection only. I ascribe this to moving them twice daily to fresh pasture as well as having the smorgasbord of free choice minerals available to them every single day.

 

Click here free-choice-mineral-lick-sept-2016 for a spreadsheet with the exact mixes that we use as well as the suppliers we get the various ingredients from. The spreadsheet has two worksheets.

To understand what I mean by farming biologically versus mechanically you need to understand how different our (biological) way is from the conventional (mechanical) way. The mechanical way it to take soil samples, send these off to laboratory and then apply the minerals recommended by the agronomist or technical advisor of the company selling the minerals. The minerals are spread via compost spreader that is pulled by a tractor. Calibration is a nightmare. Tractors cannot have babies, they use diesel, they compact your soil and tractor drivers are expensive labour. Whereas cattle can have babies. I can eat them when they have finished working, they don’t compact your soil (provided you move them daily), they don’t have to be calibrated and their drivers never have hangovers.

Angus

29 September 2016

 

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