Episode-1192- Mike Haigwood on Mix Species Grass Based Dairy

A Happy and Healthy Jersey Cow at the P.A. Bowman Farmstead

A Happy and Healthy Jersey Cow at the P.A. Bowman Farmstead

Mike Haigwood is currently the manager of  the P.A. Bowen Farmstead a mixed species dairy operation run by Sally Fallon.  Sally Fallon (who will be on TSP next week)  is the co-founder of the Weston A. Price Foundation along with nutritionist Mary G. Enig

Mike grew up in rural Iowa three generations removed from Agriculture. He had an average childhood but always loved the outdoors.  Fast forward, he graduated 1986, tried college but didn’t like it, quit after one semester then started working.

Mike then got a chance to work for a guy who started his own traditional lawn care business as a partner in the company, while short lived it started him down a new path.

Mike then started school at Penn State University in 1990, got married and had a son and then graduated in 1992 with a Bachelor in Horticulture. He then moved to Mosurris working in the Kansas City area as a Landscape Designer for a Garden Center Chain.

With the birth of his daugher and new concerns for nutrition his awakening began.  So in 1995 they moved back to Iowa started their own businesses lawn care, garden produce but ended up closing the business in 97.  In this short time Mike learned a lot about marketing, or the lack of it!

At this point he started homesteading, homeschooling, and following the practices in the book Nourishing Traditions (by Sally Fallon) and began interning in the world of agriculture.  In time that led to “bootlegging raw milk” from their own farm.  While successful they grew tired of the dogma around conventioinal agriculture still present in the Midwest.

So in 2009 they decided to move east and pursue alternative farming practices. He and his wife (Barb) met Sally Fallon at a conference in 2010 and asked if she knew anyone that could use a management team for their farm.  Her response was, “send me your resume” and now today the whole family is working on Sally’s Farm P.A. Bowen Farmstead.

Resources for today’s show…

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35 Responses to Episode-1192- Mike Haigwood on Mix Species Grass Based Dairy

  1. BOING! BOING! LOL That cracked me up, glad you didn’t edit it out.

  2. I hope you ask Sally Fallon to explain her attack on the ‘paleo’ way of eating.

    • Hugo van den Berg

      Please don’t think in terms of ‘attack’. Look at it this way, this is the public domain where all ideas compete and are subject to criticism. If criticism isn’t acceptable, don’t enter the public domain. Fair? If you an idea is so special, that anyone who criticizes it must be an attacker, then my fear is that you are setting yourself up to become a cult, where there is only one truth and as in any cult, after some time, the “keeping everybody on the path” becomes the law… Fair? Before I was born, mankind thought DDT/artifical fertilizer/tv-dinners was the best there ever was,… until people started noticing things….maybe Sally Fallon has started noticing something with Paleo. Fair? When I am in the public domain, I try to convince myself to welcome critisicm, it may be somebody has noticed something!

      • The New Mike

        This is a great comment. It was quite refreshing to read as well, as I whole heartingly agree. I actually try to step back from time to time, and not internet troll / get into “I’m right you’re a moron war” with somebody online, because generally everybody loses.

        Being able to type anything and everything (with fairly little consequences) can either bring out people’s real beliefs, which can be enlightening, or it becomes a closed minded retard fight for who can be internet champion.

        I can honestly say, frank and honest debate has overwhelmingly molded me over the years and made me make some radical belief changes due to arguments I just hadn’t heard before and were unique. On top of that, I have become acutely aware of trite arguments, and the same old bumper sticker slogan/arguments people make, which I believe has better prepared my own arguments.

        • Modern Survival

          It is a good way to see things but frankly if you read what Fallon has written (highly inaccurate by the way) about Paleo attack is the right word.

          I think Hugo’s advice is great but may not really apply here. I sent some info to Mike and I am hoping that Sally might want to bury the hatchet so to speak on a good note next week.

          I think that while there are key differences in WAP type of eating and Paleo there is a lot that is similar.

          Frankly reading what Sally wrote make me wonder why she seems to think 1970s body building diets are what Paleo is.

        • The New Mike

          I hadn’t read what she wrote, but I certainly take you at your word. I think if anything its a lesson for all of us to kind of take a step back, and approach definitive statements particularly derogatory towards others/lifestyles with a bit more caution and approach.

          Btw: Not being able to accurately reply, has ticked me off to the point where I have hacked together the URLs and the page source code… so now I’ll be able to comment correctly. =) If any adventuring computer nerd wants some tips let me know…

        • My wife brought it to my attention I should clarify…. I’m not hacking Jacks website…. *eye roll*….

          Hacking (n):
          Clever play. Often used with making computer do your bidding, rather than being a slave to it.

          I just looked at the source code, found the URL that provides the reply to comment (Add this “?replytocom=XXXXXX” to the end of the blog name in this case…
          http://www.thesurvivalpodcast.com/grass-based-dairy
          to get “http://www.thesurvivalpodcast.com/grass-based-dairy?replytocom=XXXXX” . Using the source code gives you the persons post ID…. put it in. (This one I’m replying to is 380676)

      • Hugo van den Berg

        I hate to reply to myself but I didn’t see a reply next to any of the replies. Thanks to all repliers that you picked up on the friction my thoughts were experiencing when I saw that single word ‘attack’. Maybe Karen is right, and Sally Fallon overstepped, so how do you deal with an invited guest that does the overstepping? I’ve learned a great deal on how to handle that from Neil deGrasse Tysons videos on scientific literacy. His way do deal with faulty criticism is this, don’t provide information or even rejection, simply and suddenly become very very interested: say things like “How does that work?”, “Have you seen it work?”, “Can you show me (how it works)?”. “Is there a record? (recorded protocols)”. DeGrasse Tyson found (or so he says) that “Big claims, or other heavy handed predicitions” soon crumble, and start to cry!

        • The New Mike

          So in other words, instead of pointing the flaws, asking them questions that would lend themselves to show the flaws.

          I feel like I can do that for about 1 or 2 questions in, then I have to point out what should be obvious.. “But wouldn’t that mean therefore……” haha

  3. Great show as always Jack..I love it when you have fun conversations like that, it’s a laugh a minute but you still learn a lot!

  4. Wow, that was hard to listen to. Mike’s phone connection was horrible! Glad I kept listening though, love the subject matter.

  5. Good show, I had a real hard time hearing your guest so im gonna try again later with ear buds. Thanks for all you do.

    • Modern Survival

      Yep sadly his Skype connection was awful and kept dropping and we had to use a cell phone on his end.

  6. I have heard a lot of discussion over the years on the show about sharpening knives at a Farmers market, Here a great video about a man who used to sharpen knives for a living at trade shows and such, he invented what looks to me like the perfect sharpening device..take a look, if I were to go into sharpening knives this is exactly what I would use!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=liJKYgO_P3I

  7. Great show. I love hearing the people who are returning to farms and being successful.

  8. Excellent show… but Mike really needs to loosen up a bit and express himself… lol! J/k, Great interview and yet more positive feed back for doing things the Permaculture (aka natural) way. I too am creeping towards an agrarian lifestyle, if I can ever find some land in my price range. arg!

    I never heard of that problem with sheep and maggots. Using chickens to care for the woolies… what a simple, multifunctional solution! We are regaining so much needed info through the tireless work of folks like Mike and family, Jack, Geoff and crew. Salute!

  9. BurlingtonRd Farms

    I was just reading a description of the show. The last I read if the Kansas City you mention is in Missouri we can buy and sell raw dairy products here.

  10. Gator Bee Gal

    What a delightful interview! I love listening to the livestock shows – we are trying to apply permaculture principles to our homestead and these shows are so helpful. We rotate our hair sheep and laying hens in the same paddock, and I was delighted one day to watch a chicken pick a huge engorged tick off one of the sheep. Now just trying to figure out how to integrate the pigs better 🙂
    Chris

  11. Monitoring and controlling pathogen safety is difficult in a massive commercial setting. Just think of all the milk that’s being mixed from hundreds of farms. There is always a risk of one of them being contaminated with a dangerous pathogen, and so infecting all the others. I guess pasteurization is the easiest way to provide safety in a huge commercial scale, where all milk is mixed. Hopefully we can find a better solution, and a practical one, which I’m not aware of.

    That said, my solution is to always buy raw milk from my local farmers. Which is why I’ll always support the work farmers like Mike Haigwood is doing.

    • What I’ve noticed as I’ve analyzed large organizations, is that the quality and attention to detail continues to fade as scale increases. This why the larger you get the more you make your money purely on mass scale.

      It gets me thinking about how many customers does one need to support a small business. I mean if you think about it… say you wanted to live on a “regular good salary” that you could make at a large company. Lets say 60-90k. You would have to make that amount of money via customers. So if you divide that number by your choice in customers you would have to find that many, who are willing to pay you X per year in order to make a living (at that rate). Because of the way society views dollars, food, and such, it quickly seems to me how difficult that really is in our current paradigm to properly support a small/micro operation and the people actually make some sort of money/wealth.

      You look at Jack for example, he has a direct MSB customer base of something like 2000 people (generally a single purchase per year, 18.3 cents a show). 2000 Customers in my mind is.. alot. Obviously the internet and providing internet services, means that is probably a lot easier to do, than say… giving person food.

      This is one reason why I see a diversified income stream as the ONLY approach, and most likely the best.

  12. Mike with PA Bowen farmstead

    Hi all
    I just wanted to first apologize for the quality of the audio of the podcast – my bad
    Next thank you Jack for the opportunity to talk with all your great listeners ( TSP community)
    I have had a question about our chicken ration and I will post it later this weekend for all to see.
    The only thing that I want to say about the possible DIET discussion that is happening. I believe there is no perfect diet and just as faith it is very personal and that we have to respect and not judge but to observe the fruits.

    • Mike with PA Bowen farmstead

      P.A. Bowen No-Soy Feed Ration and Rearing Procedures:

      The feed ration is based on percentages instead of amounts so that it doesn’t matter how much you want to mix. Because of the research about soy and its ill effects on Man and Beast it is not a product that we choose to use. I will not debate anyone on a pro/con debate of Soy if you feel it is ok to use by all means uses it but this ration will have to be adjusted so contact your own feed specialist for a mix.

      We have a grinder mixer that uses the Power Take Off (PTO) of a tractor to operate. We grind weekly to control spoilage and rancidity of the Seeds. We are at our peak of weekly grinding and we are grinding 5-6000 LBS. Depending on how much and how you are going to grind I would suggest not grinding more than a month of feed at a time. There are smaller grinders that a small homestead can purchase just start to investigate it on the web.

      The Ration-

      30% Field Peas (Cow/Blackeyed)
      26% Small Grain (Barely, Oats) I use to include Wheat but with the discovery of GMO wheat in the West I have taken it off the list.
      27% Sorghum – This is the Corn replacement – This is only because corn can be contaminated by pollination of GMO Corn.
      3% Mineral – I use Fertrel Poultry Nutri-Balancer – This can be used for Chickens and Pigs.
      4% Calcium – This is to boost the amount of calcium in their diet – The actual product is called Aroganite.

      5 LBS to a ton (2000 LBS) Brewers Yeast – This is what we use to add the B vitamin complex – We are using the Cornish X Rock (White Broilers) and they have leg problem. We have seen a decrease in leg issues since starting to use this. We are also thinking that some of our problems maybe starting at the hatcheries. The chicks that we get in the spring do everything to try and die and have problems. We surmise that these are new pullet hens that are laying young weak eggs and as the hens age the eggs begin to get stronger and healthier. This is only a theory and nothing proven. We have so much more success with our birds later in the growing season than in the beginning. We are looking into the weather as a major factor also.

      NO MORE THAN 10% Fish meal – This is a product we use to increase the Protein value to maintain the Egg and Meat production. If you use more than 10% you will start to get a Fishy taste in the Eggs and Meat. On a small scale there are two more options for protein one is black fly larva and the other is vermaculture (Worms).

      This mix will have around 15-17% protein and you can pick a couple of percentages from the grass and bugs. This mix is not high enough to raise new day old chicks. We have a local Mill that grinds up a No-Soy starter mix for us that is +19%. We feed this straight for 7-12 days then start to blend in our mix and by day 21 they are on the finish mix and then put on pasture for the remainder of the total 8 weeks where they will weigh 3.5 to 5.5 pounds dressed. I have not checked with my feed specialist to see what I can use to increase the Protein % so that we don’t have to buy a starter but we will pursue that in due time. All of our chickens are on a free feed system – They have feed in front of them all the time.

      We use the Joel Salatin Chicken Tractors and the Egg Mobile systems. There are many styles to raise your birds or even coming up with your own just use what works for your farm.

      FIY – The pig ration that we use is the same we just take the Fish meal out and increase the Sorghum and Small grain to correct the percentages. The pigs will get table scraps and whey from the cheese making.
      Thanks for your interest and any other questions especially with the Grass based dairy just contact me through Jack or Email me at reallifeconsulting@hotmail.com

      Thanks again, Mike

      • BurlingtonRd Farms

        Thanks for that information. But the broilers you use I am telling you are a problem. It sounds like you would have the space to create your own breed. Surely the resources are there and in the end it can only benefit everyone and especially your farm. I’d do it as a side project or find and hire someone that loves to do those sorts of things.

        Joel Salatin is an awesome guy. He has come up with great ways to do things and he was helping to bust open a market. But now it is time to go further. People are beginning to realize what is good for them. But it is morally wrong to use chickens that are meant to be.

        To me what you are saying is I have to come to an understanding with nature and there is a spiritual aspect about it but I’m going to close a blind eye to this bird that could not survive one bit without your intervention. That goes against the philosophy of how you said you raised other animals.

        You are a good person so this is no more than a challenge. I am taking the challenge. I can share whatever info I glean from my projects. But I won’t know much about growing these birds for meat till next year.

        • Modern Survival

          I just don’t think you are getting man.

          For instance Darby raises heritage whites, they do much better than Cornish crosses, dress nice and only take about two weeks longer to finish.

          http://www.simpsonfamilyfarm.com/products/pastured-poultry/

          Talk to him about what he is raising. As for demand he sells all his birds out in advance.

          We are playing with freedom rangers in my back yard. We have lost some to heat, we are pushing them in very harsh conditions. They should have been in a brooder until this week, they have been on pasture for two already.

          There are other breeds already that do work, switching wholesale is a bad idea, you have something that works. Assuming though it is all that works until someone makes something new is a bit of a mistake in my view Mike.

          Like I said, consider simply saying to your base, we are considering x for y reasons and want z number of people to give it a shot with us and see what comes of it.

        • BurlingtonRd Farms

          Are you replying to me? Because I get it. I understand exactly what is going on and I am pointing out that using animals that can’t survive on their own because their bodies fail them is exactly what I am against.

          I’ve spoken with Darby and I love what he’s doing. Freedom rangers are an excellent bird from what I have heard.

          Back in the day many farmers either purposely(successful ones), or haphazardly created their own chicken breeds. I have a passion for breeding birds. Many heritage breeds once were the super duper breeds of their time. Many of these breeds have survived mainly through the show ring. In other words, these birds were being bred for looks more so than egg production or meat production. You can take many heritage breeds and breed them back up to their production standards and they trail some of these hybrids by not as much. It adds up for sure but at what cost? For me it is the cost of self-reliance. My goal is to subtract as many outside inputs for my farm as possible. I don’t have enough land to say grow enough grains for the animals I plan on adding. At the same time I maybe able to significantly lower that input through growing a few different nut trees that grow excellent on many of my hill sides.

          Not everyone has the time or is willing to spend it on breeding their own birds. That’s cool. There are some great and not so great hatcheries out there. I live near an excellent hatchery–Cackle. I also know a ton of chicken people not too far from me. Right now I use the hatchery but one of my goals is to create my own breed.

  13. BurlingtonRd Farms

    The biggest negative I see is this continuing excuse of why someone uses cornish-crosses. They are not the only bird out there with double breasts. The one argument that has any validity is for farmers trying to grow a market and using them because they are economical and even then it is problematic.

    What I never hear any of them say is while they are doing this that they are working on a new breed or trying out another breed.

    So I have had chickens now for over a year. My main concern now is egg production and breeding. This year as I expanded my flock I brought in a number of different breeds to get a feel for them. I also plan on cross breeding to see the results and eventually create a breed that is specific to MY farm.

    One of the breeds I got this year in the light brahma. They are about to start laying. They are about a week to at most three behind the growth of the cornish cross. These birds growth is: pullets–7lbs cockerel—9lbs hens–9.5 lbs rosters–12lbs

    That is great growth and the best part is that this growth doesn’t come at the expense of the health of the bird. It is a dual breed, has a small comb and lays well in winter. Some of the negatives is the feathered feet. When I have normal summer I will tell you how they do. Next year I will also know how they do on pasture.

    So why do the excuses to continue to poor out of farmers? Why not solutions? Because it is cheap. How is it sustainable farming to rely solely on a hatchery to supply you with a chicken you yourself cannot breed unless you keep on hand the two breeds used to make the cornish-crosses? Not ONE of these farmers has taken the time to explain that, though they hinted at it–it’s about money. That is the same problem that got us into the mess we are in now. Yes, you MUST make money. Yes yes yes. But one of the goals is to find a way to do it sustainably.

    So let’s come up with solutions to this whether you are on a small, medium or large homestead. I’d say the toughest component of being truly self-sustainable would be grain production.

    • Modern Survival

      I think the way this can be addressed is as follows.

      Farmers doing this now sell all the birds they can produce, they have customer bases.

      Say you are running 1000 birds a year, contact your customers (email, dang it you guys without email lists need a smack in the head with a frozen salmon) and say, this year we are expirmenting with 100 _____ birds. We would prefer to grow these over our cornish cross birds because __________________________________________.

      These birds do cost about 20% more to raise but offer some unique advantages and they do better in the heat, have less health issues and _________________________.

      Fill in the blanks based on your views.

      So we are looking for customers this year willing to help us test these ________ birds. Each will sell for about 20% higher then our current bitds. If you are interested in preordering them and assisting us with moving to a more sustainable practice please let us know.

      Likely you will end up running 800 or more and only running a few of the originals for a few hold outs. In a season or three everyone will demand the new birds.

      Marketing is so ever loving simple.

      • As knowledgeable as you are about modern survivalism, you never cease to amaze me with the limitless creative (and simple) good business ideas.

        I can tell you if I was on mailing list (I’m on a friends… who they don’t really do anything with it) and they said something about “trying out something new” I’d be all over it. For one you can get a feel of the business environment without even having to jump both feet in with no idea whats going to come out in the end.

        Its kinda like a rough local Kickstarter in a way. (You’re not guaranteed to get the prize, its crowd funding after all).

      • @Modern –
        ‘..marketing is so ever loving simple.’

        In the modern age where you can directly communicate with your customers and get immediate feedback on their desires, and on what they’re willing to pay to have those desires met..

        =)

        I think this is the big failure of the companies from the mass marketing age.. they still think they can make up a product using ‘focus groups’ and then force it down the throats of consumers with mass marketing.

        In other words:
        Create product -> Create demand (marketing) [old way]

        instead of..
        Get an idea -> Ask/get buy in from your customers -> meet need [new way]

        I’m not even sure it should be called marketing.. maybe ‘communication’? 😉

        (The software world version of this is: Announce a product. See what the response is. If the response is good, create the product.)

        I love the fact that with all of this awesome modern tech producers can bypass the middleman and go straight to their customers. For everything from funding to delivery.

        Particularly awesome is the funding bypass (crowd funding).. is there any way in hell MT Knives could have gotten ‘loan approval’ to start a business in 6 minutes?

        How much time would Patrick have had to waste jumping through hoops and producing useless documentation (‘business plans’, ‘sales projections’, etc) to get the money from a bank or private investor? Which isn’t even mentioning the loss of control over the business.

        seriously awesome what is possible right now

    • BurlingtonRd Farms

      Jack I completely agree about how to get the new birds out there. I just get tired of these farmers’ stock excuse.

    • Mike with PA Bowen farmstead

      On our farm we have an e-mail list of over 1200 and we send them blast monthly on what is going on the farm and any specials.
      Jack I completely agree with the marketing proposal that you are suggesting.
      We have tried other breeds and the economics of the CXR broiler is the most efficient and it IS what the consumer is asking for. To try and grow birds that are 4-5 lbs that take 4-6 month does not work in a production model, but as Jack has said before growing a dual purpose for a homestead could work because you can harvest them whenever you want.
      This year we are growing 2500 birds during the growing season and to wait 4-6 month for them to finish is not realistic for us. The thing that I look at with a farm the size we are, One farm can not do it all and we have to rely on the greater community to supply us with what we are not able to produce ourselves. This is where you can go from a sustainable farm to a resilient community.

      • Modern Survival

        Mike I don’t know why you think it takes 6 months to grow out a Freedom Ranger Broiler, it takes 10-13 weeks. They will dress at 4-5 pounds at that point.

      • BurlingtonRd Farms

        Unless it is a small breed I don’t know of any breed that takes that long to get big.

        I have ten light brahmas it took them 8-9 weeks to get 4-5 pounds. As it stands now they are fifteen weeks old. They are already topping seven pounds as hens. The one cockerel is even bigger. By comparison the same age barred rock cockerel is slightly smaller and has caught up in some of the growing the past two weeks. These mammoth birds grew quickly and will reach their full growth next year with hens at 10lbs and roosters at 12 pounds.

        Wait it gets better. These birds are far more healthy than cornish crosses. They don’t get heart attacks and they are fast runners and range furthest from the coop. That should translate into a leaner meat with a better range of nutrients.

        Mike I don’t really have issues with you and your type of farm. I applaud you for what you do. But this reliance on this bird makes it shades of grey in difference from the industrial farms most of us take issue with. To me if you are willing to sell out that far when push comes to shove what will you do? AT the same time if you are running a more sustainable farm it is appreciated.

        But there is a laziness is in thinking and doing here. This stock answer mostly comes from Joel Salatin who tried raising dual purposes for meat, charged a lot more for them and didn’t have good results. The truth is the cost isn’t that much higher. In fact depending on the breed the reliance of feed lessens, especially in comparison to cornish crosses. I’m not 100% sure on the breasts of brahmas.

        I am also interested in Jersey Giants to see how they grow. I will try some next year. But to say that there aren’t comparable breeds is laziness. I can get eggs from brahmas, they will raise their young and grow out about two to three weeks behind a cornish cross.

        The other aspect is many of these rarer breeds have gone into show production for many years. That is there aren’t many if anyone out there at all breeding up traits that could increase their size say or feed efficiency. I will grant you cornish crosses are far cheaper but why is that? Is it because they are so heavily bred?

        I will work on my own breed that works the best on my farm. In the end I will be able to produce to sell as pasture chickens. It’s more work yes. Especially at the beginning but the end result will be better. It gives my farm more flexibility and makes it truly more self-sustainable. Every time we are dependent for off the farm it makes us more vulnerable to many elements.

  14. Great show. But one clarification about mammals drinking milk after weaning — most can’t do it. This included humans until just 5-10,000 years ago, when the advent of animal husbandry made the ability of adults to digest milk a highly desirable genetic deviation. Even today, a majority of people who are not of European ancestry have difficulty digesting milk. It’s pretty interesting: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lactase_persistence