We have chosen to attempt our animal health goals without the use of chemicals. They are rarely required as natural methods have generally proved effective. Our stock are given mineral and vitamin supplements regularly and it shows in their shiny coats, energy and body condition.
Low Stress Stock-handling
In a recent survey we asked our customers whether they thought it was important for us to pursue a number of things, including low carbon footprint, chemical-free animal husbandry, composting of waste, environmental management systems, whole farm biodiversity and low stress stock-handling. The overwhelming winner was low stress stock-handling. This was a surprise, but the great thing is that of all the things we do, this one does not depend on rain for a great outcome. We have a low stress stock system in place and movement of animals in the paddock and yards is based on tested principles. Our aim is to gain their trust so that they suffer no long term stress, and that any short term pressure is relieved as soon as possible. Gaining their trust also enables them to realise that short term pressure is always released quite soon.
Our grazing management is time-controlled grazing. Our property has been divided into paddocks of 10-20 hectares in size and our horses and sheep are moved through these paddocks in large numbers. The graze periods are short and the recovery period of each paddock is long to allow the pasture to recover without being grazed again too soon. This method is slowly building more groundcover, trapping more of the rain that falls to grow better pasture, and building organic matter in the soil.
Retirement of horses
The majority of our horses would have ended up as pet food if they had not been brought to us. We buy mostly trotters who have finished their career, or are not going fast enough, or are carrying an injury that has ended their career. We are able to provide them with many years of running with a herd, something that most horses never have the chance to do. Most of these horses have had a lot of handling prior to arriving, which makes our job easier as they are very relaxed to allow us to take blood from them. Some horses have been with us for close to four years and they are consistently high producers and fantastic to be with.