One of the biggest issues facing small farmers is the cost of feed. Not all farm animals can be raised exclusively on grass. Pigs are for example are omnivores. Their digestive system is similar to our own. Though I will admit our hogs will definitely eat a whole passel of things I would turn my nose up at. They do require a diet of more than pasture forage.
Anyway in the time we've been raising RW's the cost of feed has almost doubled. We are now faced with deciding to increase the price per pound for our pork or to consider other alternatives. We've been talking a good deal about raising our own feed. So tonight I started looking into spelt.
What is spelt you may ask? Isn't that some health food or something? So why are we considering some funky health food grain as animal feed? Well, we need feed that highly nutritious. Spelt is 15 - 21% protein which is much higher than corn. It's also higher than wheat in complex carbohydrates, iron, potassium and the B Vitamins. Spelt is easier to digest than wheat because of its higher solubility in water. All of these things make it a great prospect for farm raised feed.
Spelt is an ancient grain. It has been cultivated since biblical times. It is grown like wheat: planted in fall and allowed to mature the following summer. When it is mature and dry it is harvested with a combine. To use it for animal feed it is ground with the hull on. When spelt is intended for the dinner table it must be hulled first. I haven't found anything yet, but I'm sure there must be some small scale huller out there somewhere. If we could use spelt for animal feed and to produce flour for ourselves that would definitely be a plus. As an added bonus, we could bale the straw to use for animal bedding.
Producing spelt would require that we buy a seeder of some sort and probably hire the combining done. Though small, old combines can sometimes be picked up for just a little cash. They still run, they've just gotten old and too inefficient for mega-fields. One man's trash is another man's treasure you know.
It's worth thinking about. I think I'll look into high protein corn and how to roast soybeans on a small scale as well. There has got to be a way that we can produce enough grain to feed our animals, though it will most likely require finding a larger patch of ground to farm.
I'll keep you all posted as we develop a plan to take control of one more part of our production.