By October 17, 2013 10 Comments Read More →

Study Proves Sustainable Farms, Organic Farming Beats Factory Farms

Flickr-Garden-Dr.-HemmertChristina Sarich, Staff Writer
Waking Times

For those who are appalled at the way animals are treated in conventional livestock production, there is a better way. Sustainable livestock production practices include providing greater animal welfare, increasing biodiversity, and extending good working conditions to those who care for the animals, all while maintaining a profitable business. A new study clarifies this further, showing how sustainable livestock care outperforms that of factory farms.

More and more people are turning to small farms and more sustainable practices as a means to get their meat. New research from the University of Cambridge (U of C) has identified silvopastoral systems of livestock production as a means of sustainable, ethically sourced food production. This system differs from the tiny cages and infinitesimal square footage that our livestock is most often raised in now. It includes shrubs, and trees with edible leaves or fruits and lots of herbs for natural grazing.

Professor Donald Broom of U of C states that:

“Consumers are now demanding more sustainable and ethically sourced food, including production without negative impacts on animal welfare, the environment and the livelihood of poor producers. Silvopastoral systems address all of these concerns with the added benefit of increased production in the long term.”

Now, even cows that are lucky enough to go to pasture are relegated to GMO grains as a means to fatten them for slaughter. They are also often pumped full of hormones and antibiotics which have led to all sorts of health issues in the humans who consume their meat. The current agricultural and livestock production methods also dramatically decrease biodiversity, as well as pollute the soil and waterways due to the chemicals and artificial fertilizer that is necessary to grow animal feed, and maintain the pasture. In the current paradigm, animal feed is rife with GMOs, too.

Instead of this outdated means of livestock production, the researchers from U of C advocate using a diverse group of edible plants that will help with soil and water retention and cause less pesticide-laden run-off. This in turn:

  • Reduces stress and injury to animals
  • Improves the working conditions and overall satisfaction for farm workers
  • Encourages biodiversity which affects the entire food chain – from plant to insect to bird, bee, and bovine

Further, the researchers point out that varying types of shrubs and trees provide more edible leaves and shoots per unit of land area than cleared pasture land. Trees and shrubs also provide shade to the animals and allow them to hide from any perceived danger. In short, it is a more natural environment for them to live in.

 “The planting as forage plants of both shrubs and trees whose leaves and small branches can be consumed by farmed animals can transform the prospects of obtaining sustainable animal production,” said Professor Broom. “Such planting of ‘fodder trees’ has already been successful in several countries, including the plant Chamaecytisus palmensis which is now widely used for cattle feed in Australia.”

Farmers have already attempted this more bio-diverse way of pasturing animals in Columbia where a combination of the shrub Leucaena along with common pasture grass increased dry matter for food and protein production for the animals by 64%.

The silvopastoral system applies for cows, sheep, goats, and even chicken. It even increases milk production by several kilograms a day without having to pump the animals full of hormones. With its increases in biodiversity and the reduction of animal cruelty, this system is a much more sustainable way of feeding the world, without an increase of land use – which means we can stop mono-cropping and start perma-culture farms in the land we lost in urban sprawl and GMO company monopolies in the past decade.

Additional Sources:


About the Author

Christina Sarich is a musician, yogi, humanitarian and freelance writer who channels many hours of studying Lao TzuParamahansa YoganandaRob Brezny,  Miles Davis, and Tom Robbins into interesting tidbits to help you Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.

**This article originally appeared at NaturalSociety.**

This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.

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  • Having the power to provide food for yourself and your family is only enabled through acquiring the proper skills.
    Farmers have always used some natural products and methods to deal
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  • John Cook

    I was thinking as I read the article “that sounds like permaculture” – then at the end it is finally named. We really need to thank Bill Mollison and David Holgrom for creating something so great that it seems obvious after you “get” it. I’m proud to have been there at the very start, attending workshops held by Bill on the bank of the Murrimbidgi river at the Breadbo Down To Earth festival way back then (in the early seventies). I knew immediately how true it was, how important it was, it’s amazing to me how it has spread over the whole world. Thank you Bill.

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