I've already referred to Joel Salatin before on Everything2 and he is one of my strongest influencers with regard to food production and ecology. He is a farmer, lecturer and author (and millionaire). He is a couple of years younger than this writer (Salatin born Feb. 24, 1957). His farm, Polyface Farm (farm of many faces) has been in his family since 1961 and is five hundred acres (about 2 square kilometers). It is located in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, U.S. When asked if he considers himself a cattle farmer, a pig farmer or a chicken farmer, Salatin (who produces all three) says, "I'm a grass farmer".
It would appear that he is. Salatin's ranch is located in Swoope County, Virginia. The county average forage production, in cow days per acre, is 80 (a cow day is what one cow will eat in one day). On the Salatin farm they average 400 cow days per acre. Yes, that's a 500% increase. This is achieved without any commercial fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides. The secret? A system of intensive grazing in which the cattle are moved daily. This is achieved by using electric fencing. The cattle soon become accustomed to the daily move and are eager to move to the new paddock. Similar intensive methods are used for the production of eggs, chicken, and pork.
One of my favorite stories about the impact of such an approach involves Salatin's method of raising pigs. The swine have a rotation schedule much like the cattle, but are foraging on woodlands. Salatin began noticing that new species of forage plants were appearing and asked a visiting county extension agent about one of these that he couldn't identify. The agent admitted that he didn't know but took a sample back with him for further study. He called back in a couple of days and wanted to know where Joel got the seed. Joel said he hadn't planted any. The agent said the sample turned out to be a type of perennial rye that had once been native to the valley, but hadn't been seen there in over a hundred years.
The Salatin farm gives tours for people from grade school age to senior citizen groups. One tenet of the Polyface farming philosophy is that food production should be transparent and consumers should educate themselves on how their food is produced. That doesn't sound like a bad idea!
Books by Joel Salatin:
Salad Bar Beef (1996)
Pastured Poultry Profits (1996)
You Can Farm: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Start & Succeed in a Farming Enterprise (1998)
Family Friendly Farming: A Multigenerational Home-Based Business Testament (2001)
Holy Cows And Hog Heaven: The Food Buyer's Guide To Farm Friendly Food (2005)
Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal: War Stories From the Local Food Front (2007)
The Sheer Ecstasy of Being a Lunatic Farmer (2010)
Folks, This Ain't Normal: A Farmer's Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World (2011)
Fields of Farmers: Interning, Mentoring, Partnering, Germinating (2013)
The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs (2016)
Your Successful Farm Business: Production, Profit, Pleasure (2017)