Our Chickens Read More...
Over the years, through trial and error and lots of research, we have evolved our poultry operation so that our chickens have the greatest comfort, safety and health. Our portable chicken sheds, which combine laying boxes and roosting perches, are now as good as you would find anywhere.
Unlike a lot of free-range operations where the hens live in a shed and have access to go outside through small openings (and therefore don’t go outside very much), our sheds are open all around the bottom so they freely graze on pasture but can easily move under shelter away from flying predators and the elements when they need. The sheds are moved once or twice a week to a fresh position within a 20-acre paddock.
Another significant difference between ours and other free-range operations is that all our water and feed is located outside of the sheds, ie fresh pasture grasses, legumes, bugs, worms and supplementary organic pelts are positioned alongside the moving chook mobile, close enough for easy access but far enough away to motivate the birds to get outside and roam. Most of the hens stay within a radius of around 30 metres from the shed but the adventurous can be seen up to 100 metres away seeking tasty treats. Having such free access to fresh, green pastures means that the eggs our chickens lay have significantly greater Omega 3 levels and better Omega 3:6 ratios.
Protecting the hens from predators is an important job in a large free-range operation. Fences will not keep foxes out when wombats dig under them, so each of our flocks are protected by two Maremma dogs. They are very friendly, large, playful, white Italian dogs that have a natural instinct to protect anything they are put in charge of guarding. They bond with a flock and will protect them from any predator that threatens.
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Our Cattle Read More...
The total amount of grazing land that we have at Mulloon Creek Natural Farms (MCNF) suitable for keeping cattle is 1315 hectares. We de-stocked heavily through the drought and have slowly begun increasing our numbers. Over the past few years we have introduced time control grazing management practices and it is increasing our carrying capacity without compromising our commitment to restorative agriculture. Currently we carry around 230 breeding cows (both Devon and Angus) and will continue to build the herd whilst it is beneficial to the landscape.
Free Range and Pasture Raised
The biodynamic pastures of Mulloon Creek offer a wonderful diet for the cattle. We are adamant about the fact that cattle should not be fed grain. They are not designed to digest it and it alters the important Omega 3:6 ratio in the meat.
Omega-6 acids promote inflammation, blood clotting and tumour growths while Omega-3 acids reduce inflammation and the potential for tumour growths, so it’s important to keep the ratio in balance.
We graze our cattle in large mobs for short periods of time in each paddock, with a long rest period for the paddock after grazing. This way the cattle are always provided with a choice of feed and the pastures are not eaten out and have plenty of time to regrow before they are grazed again.
In alignment with our principle “let animals do what they do best”, we cycle the cattle through the chicken paddocks before a new flock goes in. They eat down the long grasses, which are not good for chickens, and add fertility to the soil.
If you eat beef, choose ethically raised, organic, grass fed meat. That way you know that you are getting a healthy product from an animal that has lived a natural, stress free life.
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Our Pigs Read More...
Pigs are a very useful tool in a horticulture system where a mixture of vegetables are grown. They aerate the soil, eat all waste from the vegetable harvest and return the fertility to the soil via their manure (10 pigs to a hectare for 10 months its equivalent to 150 to 170kg of nitrogen).
They are very sociable and have a gestation period of 116 days (3mth, 3wks, 3 days). Each litters produces around 8 piglets, and each sow farrows twice a year. The piglets are weaned at 8 weeks and continue to live outdoors and graze freely on biodynamic pastures. They are also fed broken, cracked or unsalable eggs from our poultry operation and receive a supplementary ration of organic wheat and sorghum.
The produce has a good amount of intramuscular fat that gives exceptional flavour and moisture to the meat, similar to the marbled effect in beef. They also have a larger, rounder hind leg that produces more bacon than other breeds.
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Our Sheep Read More...
In the past we carried more sheep than we now do. Difficult years with drought played a big part in our initial destocking but conditions are presently quite good and we could carry a lot more than we do. Our decision to keep numbers low is to support our belief that we can do more good for the land, and produce a more nutritious source of protein by grazing mostly cattle, in large mobs that move very frequently. Sheep have different grazing patterns and can limit our ability to manage the cattle in our chosen way.
We keep around 20 – 30 breeding ewes, which provides lamb for our farm families and friends, and catering for our events. Occasionally we arrange direct to customer sales.
The breed is Damara, a South African sheep that has low maintenance requirements. Their hair falls out naturally so they needn’t experience the stress of shearing. They are not docked and therefore don’t have to endure the stress and pain of having their tails removed. Their tails are actually different to conventional breeds of sheep in that they have a large fat deposit that they can live off when conditions are bad. Not that that happens here, but it’s interesting!
Our sheep live completely free range and are not supplemented with any grains.
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