by Max Akroyd

The morning was all mine to dig for victory. Unfortunately a trip to town beckoned instead as the animals had completely run out of the mixed grain which forms the foundation of their diet.

As a smallholding novice it came as quite a surprise to discover that most farm animals can eat the same grain – hen, pigs and goats all enjoying a good serving of the stuff morning and evening. It’s not quite that simple, though, as the pigs prefer it served with water as a warm porridge, the goats like it as it comes and the hens prefer their layers pellets for breakfast. The guinea fowl are more carnivorous and get their own suspect smelling pellets. Then there’s the other (food)stuff: goats have to have hay laid on all the time, pigs eat everything vegetable apart from banana skins and celery and they all adore a snack of straight corn.

Like my wife and kids, the animals aren’t included in my self-sufficiency project – it wouldn’t be very noble to tie their nutrition exclusively to this small plot of land until I’d tested the theory on myself. But I’m a little uneasy about importing grain from outside – even if it’s just from a farm fifteen miles away. I see grains as human food and the whole point to me of farm animals is to convert stuff we can’t eat into something we can. So I’ll be researching home grown fodder crops over the winter in an effort to displace the need for grains next year.