Any one class of animal has its own type of nutritional requirements. For example, cows primarily eat grass and do not prefer woody plants. However, goats primarily eat woody brush and do not prefer grass. So, if you use multiple classes of livestock you will have a more rounded amount of animal impact on an area. This also adds profitability to any one area.
When is an animal at its most content? In our opinion, its when it's out on fresh, vibrant, and diverse pasture. All of our livestock are out on pasture including poultry and hogs. Animals with a multi-chamber stomach (ruminants), thrive on grass. The bacteria in their digestive system is designed to breakdown grasses (cellulose); however, when they are fed grain, the bacteria changes and the animal is not as efficient at converting its feed.
The most important nutrient on the planet is water. Keyline Water Management is a concept that uses gently sloping ditches that follows the ground around a feature like a hill (aka swales on contour), retaining ponds, and aerating the soil to allow the land to absorb more water. We are implementing only a portion of the entire Keyline plan.
Pioneered by Toyota, this concept can be applied to any industry. At its core, a lean farm is one that is: set in order, shines, is standardized, and is sustainable. The lean concept digs down and roots out waste in all aspects of a business. It eliminates the fluff, junk, and distractions. It is focused on the return to the customer, and is frugal but not cheap.
Bud Williams method of handling livestock was legendary. Stories are still told of him being dropped off by helicopter into the wilderness, and within 4 hours he can drive a herd of wild deer where ever he wanted them. While we are not Bud, we do hold to his values of keeping as much stress off of the animals as possible because stress leads to sickness.
Livestock is grazed in a rotational manor based off current pasture conditions, weather, and stages of animal growth. Using the stocking rate, density, portable electric fencing, and resting pasture we can mimic the type of animal impact that was seen during the days when buffalo roamed over most of the country. This improves the health of the soil and our animals.
"The best medicine for an animal is to be rotated to a fresh pasture"- Greg Judy.
These are not administered to our animals, and in the case of poultry and pork, the FDA does not allow either. However, there are times when medication is needed to prevent suffering. These animals require a "clean bill of health" before being allowed into the reproduction or harvesting cycle.
We strive to use portable shelter, shade, and protection when possible. Depending on the class of animal, they may require something as simple as a wind-break, all the way up to an enclosed shelter with deep-bedding and a heat source. Be that as it may, most animals as long as they can stay dry and out of the wind can withstand cold conditions.