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Dairy (cow) manure

"Dairy Manure may be the single most useful soil-builder around," says Ann Lovejoy, lifetime organic gardener and writer in Seattle, Washington. "Washed dairy manure from healthy cows is just about perfect for garden use; it can be used as a topdressing and for soil improvement," she adds. 
Dairy manure is preferable to steer manure, which has a higher salt and weed seed content. 
Though cow manure has low nutrient numbers, that's what makes ist safe to use in unlimited quantities.

Cattle: cause or cure for climate crisis?

Allan Savory - Keeping Cattle: cause or cure for climate crisis?

Vídeo de YouTube

if video gets lost please search here  

Feasta Lecture 2009, Extracts available at
Allan Savory argued that while livestock may be part of the problem, they can also be an important part of the solution. He has demonstrated time and again in Africa, Australia and North and South America that, properly managed, they are essential to land restoration. With the right techniques, plant growth is lusher, the water table is higher, wildlife thrives, soil carbon increases and, surprisingly, perhaps four times as many cattle can be kept.
Recorded 7 November 2009, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

Intensive Rotational Grazing

Whole Systems Design 
Carbon Farming

also see the Abe Collins page in the 3.2 Regeneration chapter of this e-book

What this short video doesn't explain is just how much carbon this can lock into soils ... a lot more than forests, it turns out ...

Soil Carbon - putting it back where it belongs

... but here Tony Lovell explains this in some detail, starting with how & why we generally find this quite difficult to understand, for lots of systemic reasons.  One of the truly great TED talks ... long but very important, explains why grazing animals could be so vitally important for our future (vegetarians might not like this...)


Transhumance is the seasonal movement of people with their livestock between fixed summer and winter pastures. In montane regions (vertical transhumance) it implies movement between higher pastures in summer and to lower valleys in winter. 

Herders have a permanent home, typically in valleys. Only the herds travel, with the people necessary to tend them. 

In contrast, horizontal transhumance is more susceptible to being disrupted by climatic, economic or political change.

Traditional or fixed transhumance occurs or has occurred throughout the inhabited world, including Scandinavia, Scotland, England, Caucasus, Chad, Morocco, France, Italy, Ireland, Lebanon, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Iran, Turkey, the Republic of Macedonia, India, Switzerland, Georgia, the United States, and Lesotho. 

It is also practised among more nomadic Sami people of Scandinavia. 

It is often of high importance to pastoralist societies, the dairy products of transhumance flocks and herds (milk, butter, yogurt and cheese) often forming much of the diet of such populations.

The term "transhumance" is also occasionally used for nomadic pastoralism – migration of people and livestock over longer distances.

In the valleys along the edge of the Alps cattle production with associated transhumance was generally the rule.   However, in the inner alpine valleys the climate was drier which allowed farming even at higher elevations.

These areas tended to be mixed between farming and animal husbandry, with the animals being kept mainly for fertilizer and plowing rather than food.

However, in both regions the yearly movement was generally similar. Throughout the year, most of the population of the village remained on the valley floor and farmed the surrounding land for grains and hay. In the spring the herdsmen took the animals up to the middle pastures on the mountain slopes.

In the summer, pigs were left in the middle pastures while the rest of the animals were moved to the high alpine pasture. At the end of September the animals were moved back to the lower pastures and cattle were stabled in the following month. 

There are many traditional festivals as the animals return from their summer fields to their stables in autumn, in the valleys.

a blog in italian about this tradition, here:
lots of photos, you can get translation if you see it with GoogleChrome (navigator)

Sheep and goats were stabled in December, unless the winter was mild, then they remained at the middle pastures with the pigs.

In the regions where breeding dominated, the farms were relatively large and isolated from each other. Where both breeding and farming were mixed, the plots were generally smaller and common fields were shared between the community. During the Middle Ages many fields were converted into meadows, because of the prevalence of the breeding. In the north the fields were rotated without a fallow period.       They were cultivated for 2 to 5 years, then used as a meadow (and fertilized by the animals) for 3 to 10 years before going back under cultivation. 

However, in the mountain valleys, the fields near the communities were cultivated every year (sometimes producing two crops a year in Ticino) while the outer fields and alpine pastures were more often allowed to lie fallow or used as a meadow.

Also see 

There's a dialogue related to this page in the Integral Permaculture FB group (click icon to go there)

There's a dialogue in our FB group about climate change aspect of this (click icon to go there)

One of the silliest arguments given in order to guilt-trip people into becoming vegetarian is the oft-repeated one about how many units of grain go into producing one unit of meat.

In fact herbivores naturally eat grass, not grain, so although this is certainly a good argument for how unhealthy our industrial food system is (feeding grain to cattle is not good for the cattle or for us: grain fed beef is inferior quality & doesn't give us all the important nutrients that grass fed meat does), it only tends to confuse when it comes to helping people think how to re-design our systems so that we can live more rationally.

Click picture to enlarge