Mob Stocking Herbivorous Solar Conversion Lignified Carbon Sequestration Fertilization

Whew! Say that 3 times fast! Joel can. Can you? 🙂 Check out our Polyface T-shirt with this written on it! Talk about a great conversation starter!

For this chapter, I would like to highlight a few key paragraphs:

“Perhaps nothing illustrates modern farming’s departure from normalcy as dramatically as beef feedlots. These sprawling corrals containing thousands of beef animals, with nary a place to stand or lie down except in their own excrement, and fed a candy bar diet of starch – primarily corn – to grossly and quickly fatten them, epitomize a system worth of the exclamation,

‘Folks, this ain’t normal’.”

Photo taken from Oklahoma Farm Report (click on image for source)

Cows are being blamed for destroying the earth’s o-zone layers due to the methane gas they produce. However, in this chapter, Joel says:

“In fact, the cow, or domestic herbivore if you will, is the most efficacious soil-building, hydrology-cycling, carbon-sequestering tool at the planet’s disposal. Yes, the cow has done a tremendous amount of damage. But don’t blame the cow. The managers of the cow have been and continue to be the problem. The same animal mismanaged to abuse the ecology is the greatest hope and salvation to heal the ecology.”

Read Matt Rales’ ‘An Inconvenient Cow article’.

Compare this photo with the one above. Which one do you want to live next to?

“The critical thing to understand is that grazing can be done in a way that builds soil and heals the land, or it can be done in way that destroys the land. Grazing is not inherently good or bad. It is the grazing management, the pattern, that makes it ecologically positive or ecologically negative. Nomads have certainly destroyed plenty of land through overgrazing, as have American farmers.

The abuses, however, do not change the fact that worldwide  soil building occurs most dramatically with herbivores, perennials, rest periods, and periodic disturbances. …”

The key notes that Joel leaves us with in this chapter:

  1. Grass is at least as efficient as sequestering carbon as trees.
  2. Herbivores are nature’s pruners to restart the grass biomass accumulation cycle.
  3. Cows can be good or bad, depending on how they are managed.
  4. To eat most ecologically, concentrate on grass-fed beef and grass-fed dairy.
  5. Normal farms have animals.

What are your thoughts from this chapter? Did it change the way you view cattle?


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About Sheri Salatin

Sheri is married to Daniel Salatin. She is the marketing director at Polyface Farm and stay-at-home mom of three children. Sheri is passionate about clean food and is enjoying working the land along side her husband. When not farming, Sheri can be found reading, writing, sewing, baking and serving in her church family.
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6 Responses to Mob Stocking Herbivorous Solar Conversion Lignified Carbon Sequestration Fertilization

  1. Dawn Whitehead says:

    I recently watched a video where I heard Joel talk about “Big Farma” and the horrible practices that are destroying our food supply. I am so happy to have seen the movie and come in touch with this website. I will definitely order the book. I live on a very small property in Concord, California and have only enough room to grow my own lettuce, carrots, potatoes, herbs, strawberries, tomatoes, peas and beans. I buy my eggs from a small family ranch and my raw milk from the health food store. I am fortunate to be able to buy meat from a ranch that grass-feeds their cattle. Expensive in the short run, but in the long run, the money I save on health bills and the support I give my local community are PRICELESS!! It would be wonderful to visit your farm some day. I bet many people feel that way. You may have to open a bed and breakfast, a restaurant, run a few classes on farming, cooking, and on and on. What an inspiration you all are. Thanks so much for your website, book, video clips, photos and most of all, your wonderful farm!!

  2. The comments about the cow being a destroyer vs. being an ecology builder depending on their management by humans reminds of of Dave Ramsey’s comments regarding bricks and money. Dave says in his Financial Peace University that money is a lot like bricks…. it is neither good nor evil, it is amoral. Bricks can be thrown through a plate glass window during an act of rioting but they can also be used to build a children’s hospital. In the same way money can be used for selfish or selfless things depending on management by humans. In the same way, cows can be abused to destroy the earth or used to build soil and sequester carbon. We have been given such beautiful gifts by God but we have also been given free-will. Just because we can confine cows to a feedlot and fatten them quickly for higher profit doesn’t mean that we should. Hvaving dominion over the Earth is a pretty awesome responsibility.

    Oh, and the shirt is great. Everyone should have one. Along with “Everything I want to Do is Illegal”….. Wear them in public. When people stop to stare, tell them what the shirt really means. Recommend that they watch Food, Inc. or Fresh!. Tell them that the beef they have from the store did not spend the last months of their life on beautiful pastures. I Love the book, I love Polyface, I love what you all write here and I love that there are thousands of people reading this and telling others the truth.

  3. Thanks for the link to the article. Lots of good things in there. It’s just about time for me to move the cows today…

  4. Pingback: Let’s Make a Despicable Farm | Polyface Hen House

  5. Spent Thursday with HMI in Sperrysville and conducted a practical exercise where the farmer needed to mob stock, etc. his cows instead of making bad decisions such as using fertilizer, buying more cows, etc.

  6. natschultz says:

    UGGH!!! Nothing drives me more crazy than the supposed “environmentalists” who scream from the rooftops that everyone should become vegans because raising animals for food takes up more land and energy than growing grains and soy for protein. Honestly, scientists should seriously measure the amount of greenhouse gasses that the average vegan creates just by breathing and pooping! Humans probably create the same amount of greenhouse gasses just by existing as do grass-fed cows. This is the absolute WORST, most unscientific argument the “Meatless Monday” preachers use. And I’ve been a vegetarian for 25 years (NOT a vegan).
    I’m from the Northeast, and I have NEVER seen a dairy farm in Upstate, NY, Vermont, NH, Maine etc. where the cows are kept in prisons. It makes no economic sense! Drive through the countryside and all the cows are freely roaming in the wide grass pastures or laying down in the shade of the forest edge. Cows eat grass and poop randomly all day long, and are fed hay while milking and in winter. And all the farms have hay bails sitting all across the fields as well. No farmer goes out and picks up the poops in the fields; just the little bit of manure that is in the barn, and that can easily be composted on site. That is why God created Dung Beetles! Grass is free. Why PAY for GMO “feed?” Absolutely ABSURD! And, the worst part of their “theory” that grains and beans can feed the world more efficiently than animals can, is that without animal manure it is absolutely IMPOSSIBLE to create fertile fields. So, what they are actually arguing to impose upon the global population is a reliance on genetically-engineered seeds that can be sprayed non-stop with herbicides and pesticides, because all that grain and bean “protein” requires tons of SYNTHETIC fertilizers to grow because the SOIL is DEAD! And dead soil leads to weed and pest and fungus infestations. Oh, and these same lunatics have managed to virtually make it illegal for any farmer to dig a natural pond for water on their own property because it somehow is “bad for the environment and wildlife” (the opposite is the truth, and in fact not long ago the DEC actually encouraged farm ponds because they support biodiversity); but, I guess it is just peachy keen to plant fields of wheat and soy and allow all the synthetic nitrogen and phosphorus to enter the water instead.
    Do Americans consume too much meat? Maybe. But, as far as I am concerned, what the average American is purchasing and consuming is NOT really “meat,” but more like Soylent Green. If CAFO farms disappeared tomorrow and Americans had to pay for REAL, authentic grass-fed meat, then they would eat a more reasonable amount, they’d then be much healthier, the animals would be happier, and neighborhoods and the planet would be much “greener.” If you can’t afford true grass-fed, organic meat, then being a vegetarian (NOT a vegan) makes sense. But get your protein from ORGANIC EGGS, not grains and beans! You can raise enough eggs in the average suburban backyard to feed an entire family; how many people have a yard large enough to produce enough “protein” by growing grains and beans for even one person? And, eggs are a true COMPLETE protein loaded with tons of other essential nutrients that plants are simply devoid of (actually, grains and beans inhibit nutrient absorbtion) altogether. Plus, chicken poop is a great fertilizer for all that kale vegans are so fond of!