Sadly, our soil is depleted from years of abuse of the land. We are suffering (read my story here) and our animals are suffering from a lack of minerals.
We offer our cattle a mix of natural trace minerals and kelp which we purchase at Countryside Organics in Waynesboro, Va. We feel that is one reason why our animals are healthy and we only lost one of our babies out of 27 this year. That one, we really blame on ourselves as we were busy with my sons wedding and did not catch the symptoms in time.
We have had animals for over 20 years and only on very rare occasions have we had to have a vet out for anything other than normal testing and maintenance issues. We feel this is due to feeding them as naturally as possible and balancing our fields with organic matter to increase mineral content in the forage.
We also do not spray our fields with chemicals which also kills the herbs and legumes that provide much valuable nutrition for the animals.
Instead, we use rotational grazing methods and cut our thistles by hand to control them. (I’ll be honest though, we are discussing spot spraying our thistles next year as it is very labor intensive to cut them all by hand. I would use a sponge paint brush and put the weed killer on just that plant. I’m so against chemicals and yet we need to get the thistles under control.)
I love to see the butterfly’s on the thistle blooms but thistles will absolutely take over the field and we need to control them or it compromises the balance of forages for the animals.