This morning we moved our very pregnant hinds (female deer) into the ‘nursery’ paddock. And as we were coming home, I thought it might be nice to share a few photos and words about how we farm here at Mandagery Creek Venison.
Basically, we try to adhere to holistic farming methods, which means we cell graze. Tim keeps a grazing plan which dictates that we move our deer in one big herd through small paddocks, putting them onto fresh grass every couple of days. And because we break our bigger paddocks up into three, sometimes four spaces (using electric fences), we can rest each one for up to 100 days. So the paddocks are heavily grazed for a short period of time then left to regenerate.
The general idea is that farming this way means the pastures are richer, the animals quieter (because they get so used to us moving them around) and the soil is healthier as it is allowed nice long rest periods. Plus, because the deer have eaten and just ‘walked’ down all the growth in each paddock, they leave behind almost 100% ground cover after moving on – and this is exactly what we want, the soil is kept moist beneath a layer of pushed down grasses and we avoid erosion. Win win!
We were introduced to this method of farming via a good friend, the late Bruce Ward who was a holistic farming educator. He in turn introduced us to Allan Savory, another inspirational man who has dedicated his life to reversing land degradation, in Africa particularly, in a manner that makes, rather than costs, money. If you have a few minutes spare, I really recommend watching Allan’s recent TED Talk (embedded below).
It doesn’t always work quite as planned though; for example, right now, in late spring when the girls have their babies, we leave them well alone for a few weeks.
So this morning’s move into my favourite paddock, a gently sloping field partially encircled by a happily running creek and full of grass almost as tall as the animals themselves, will be their last for a few weeks. Fawns should start arriving any day now (Tim and the kids are having a competition, $5 for the first sighting!) and we are hoping for a really great season.
Ps – This, above, is the kind of ground cover we like to see here at Mandagery Creek HQ. Sweet.