For the love of grass

As we struggled to supply adequate nutrition to our livestock this winter, we realised just how unappreciated grass is. Our breeding ewes and cows were getting grain for energy, hay for roughage plus protein supplements, mineral supplements, salt and molasses to keep them going. All these had to be in just the right ratios to keep them in reasonable shape without poisoning them. As their nutritional requirements change as they get closer to giving birth then again after birthing, it all gets rather complicated.

Ordinarily, our sheep and cattle eat pasture, which in our case is a mix of native perennial grasses, legumes, forbs and woody shrubs. From this smorgasbord, they choose what they need to maintain good condition without any help from us at all, the pasture provides everything they need, including medicine for when they aren’t well.

It’s easy to overlook, but the green stuff that grows all by itself, everywhere it can, is the basis of our entire food system, (including the grains, which are just the seeds of annual grass plants). It’s the most efficient solar energy converter we know of (a pasture with good ground cover and just 6 cm tall, contains 2000 kg of dry matter per hectare) and sustains us all.  Now it’s finally growing again, we should all pay homage to our green benefactor. Go grass!

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