We all want to care for our animals to the best of our ability, and this must begin with nutrition. However, the best intentions often require a bit of the green stuff, and I'm not referring to my favorite green stuff - herbs.
Many animal owners have asked me to break down the how's, what's, and why's. So, let's get to it! During the next few weeks, I will analyze what you pay for and what that exactly means product by product, so the next time you dip your scoop into your animal's green goodness, you'll know the goodness that was in the green you scooped out!
Feed Conversion Rates? What?
The best way to explain feed conversion rates is an analogy: At lunchtime, I'm usually running around like a chicken with my head cut off (oh, that's a bit harsh for farm talk) - okay, it's crazy. My lunch is a fleeting moment of refreshing cold water, a fruit filled cereal bar, some chicken salad, and a small yogurt all while making feed, completing farm chores, diffusing teenagers, or today, writing this post. That doesn't sound so bad, but let's take a brief look at the first few ingredients in my cereal bar.
Strawberry Filling (sugar, strawberries, apple powder, fruit juice) - Yeah, probably better to eat some strawberries, since sugar serves no purpose!
Organic Wheat Flour - okay not so bad, but still processed - so nutrient deficient.
Organic Invert Cane Sugar - great, more sugar
The next few: tapioca starch, vegetable glycerin, natural flavor (?), citric acid, pectin, locust bean gum. My needs respectively - no, no, no, okay, maybe and what?
Strawberry Filling vs. Strawberries
My nutritious cereal bar includes only one thing that my body needs to fumble further into chaos - strawberry filling (which is questionable - just the strawberries in the sugary syrup). I most definitely should have just eaten some strawberries. They would have provided natural sugars and naturally derived citric acid and pectin which your body processes and utilizes much differently than their synthetic counterparts.
The cereal bar weighs 1.31 oz, of which I'm receiving (let's be generous) 20% of what my body requires in nutrients. The rest will be of no use.
If I would have, instead, consumed this energy in the form of 1.31 oz of fresh, organic strawberries, my body would have utilized every component in the fruit. Furthermore, I can consume less of the fresh strawberries to grant my body the nutrition that it needs; where in contrast, I would need to eat way more than one cereal bar even to come close.
You Get What You Pay For?
1 cup of strawberries weighs approximately 4 ounces. I weighed 8 strawberries to come to this approximation
On the other side of the scale is 20% of the cereal bar: approx. weight = .26 oz. Therefore, to attempt to obtain what the 4 ounces of strawberries provide in antioxidants, nutrients, vitamins, including high vitamin C, minerals, including folate, potassium, manganese, dietary fiber, and magnesium, I would need to consume over 15 cereal bars.
So much for my cheap lunch, and woe to my unfortunate body! I have to eat a total of 19.65 ounces, of which 3.93 are good for me - the other 15.72 is going right to the hips!
Bottom line: I'll be eating strawberries from now on! - Viola, FEED CONVERSION
Now, Let's Talk Green!
(for this simplified example this will be the RATES):
I obtained the pricing from my local Whole Foods (I mean, I sell organic feed for goodness sakes) -
The Cereal Bar is 1.99 for 7.9 oz = this results in a cost of $.25/oz
The Organic Strawberries are 5.99 for 8.8 oz = this results in a cost of $.68/oz
Well, at first glance, the cheaper cereal bar is once again looking good! But, let's look a bit closer:
If my body only needs 20% of what is in the cereal bar, this is actually a cost closer to $1.25/oz. Wait, what? Oh, and I have to eat at least 15 of them to even come close to what 4 ounces of strawberries would provide. I might have paid a cheaper price for the cereal bar, but 80% of this will be converted to fat. Hence the obesity problem in our society, our pets, and our farm animals today...You pay for convenience and not in a good way!
Bottom LineI realize it is a Casually Cockeyed notion to look at things backward - treating the whole animal from the beginning by way of proper nutrition rather than waiting to treat disease! For rest assured, we WILL inevitably, without a doubt, pay for what we consume. Furthermore, I'm not crazy and I do notice this advice is not good for my "bottom line". It's should never be about feed - only nutrition!
Feed, first and foremost, what your animal requires for their bodily needs - nothing extra - think strawberries! In the case of our herbivores, this means grasses, weeds, herbs - all growing naturally in your pastures.
Second, supplement over-farming, overuse, pesticides, etc. with cut, dried, and mixed species HAY from a reputable source. And, please throw away Fescue if it is not endophyte free!
Third, supplement the nutritional gaps that occur by cutting and drying with powerful organic, herbal nutrition.
Organic, Herbal Nutrition because the return on health will come by way of vet bills, "cereal bar" supplements, medications, illness, allergies, or Whole, Organic Foods. The choice is up to us!