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COOKING COMPANION


Birds & HERDS


How hens and cows are working in harmony with the return of traditional farming methods


M


ob grazing is a century-old farming method that has fallen out of practice. But is grazing cows and hens in the


same pasture a logical and beneficial means of farming?


Dan Wood, managing director of Te Traditional Free Range Egg Company, explains how this farming practice benefits land, animal and consumer...


What is the method and how is it beneficial?


Here at Te Traditional Free Range Egg Company we are re-establishing the natural


order of grazing animals and poultry, working in harmony with the land. While soaking up the best that the region’s pastures have to offer, our traditional birds take on a vital role in the centuries-old cyclical practice of mob grazing.


Te cycle begins with herds staying bunched together and on the move, behaving like grazing animals from centuries gone by. Free to trample and graze to their heart’s content, they feed themselves up on earthly goodness, while breaking up the grass and creating a natural mulch. With the help of their humble hooves, the soil is able to absorb rainfall more effectively while locking carbon safely away. Having been fed and nourished by the land,


“HAVING BEEN FED AND NOURISHED BY THE LAND, THE HERDS THEN RETURN NUTRIENTS TO THE SOIL WHEN NATURE CALLS”


the herds then return nutrients to the soil when nature calls.


As the herds move onto fresh pastures, the traditional birds ramble out of their mobile sheds, which are on wheels, and set to work fertilising the land and stimulating new shoots by scratching through the manure, spreading nutrients to every corner of the field. Along the way, the birds get to enjoy a hugely varied salad bar of vegetation, as well as nutritious grubs and bugs that can be harmful to other animals, cleaning the land ready for the herds to eventually return.


How does this ensure a sustainable future for food and farming?


Incorporating traditional hens into the mob grazing practices that many forward-thinking cattle and sheep farmers are now embracing is a really exciting step in free range egg production.


However, the story goes much deeper than producing exceptional free range eggs. Tis method essentially encourages animals to behave like they did centuries ago; with the herds sticking together to avoid predators while they graze on varied herbal leys and the birds coming through aſterwards to work through what’s leſt behind, in the process protecting our land, enhancing biodiversity and minimising our carbon footprint. With a warming climate, dwindling wildlife and more intense farming methods being employed to keep up with consumer demand, traditional methods such as this can help us maintain the land in a natural and effective manner, while producing outstanding food for consumers to enjoy.


56 | THE WEST COUNTRY FOODLOVER


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