I’ve got fermentation on my brain … probably quite literally. In an earlier post, I wrote about “fermenting” grain for Gwen and the horses. My terminology was incorrect. I am soaking the grain for Gwen and the horses, adding whey to the soak in an effort to make it more digestible for them. True fermentation of grain takes days of ; it also takes warmer temperatures. Even with the grain soaking in the warm bathroom where I make cheese, it is not fermenting.
I received an anonymous comment yesterday telling me that feeding fermented grain to horses would cause them to colic, founder, etc. I’ve done a good amount of research on that subject and cannot find solid evidence of that. I’ve seen numerous references to not feeding “moldy or fermented” grain to horses because it might cause them to colic, but that’s it. Lots of people soak grains for their senior horses; almost everyone soaks beet pulp prior to feeding it to their horses. Horses, and cows for that matter, are not designed to eat grains so soaking them makes them more digestible. The horses are getting virtually no grain; most of their ration is beet pulp. Once our pasture comes back, they’ll get even less.
So the grain that the horses and cow are eating is not, technically, fermented. It is well-soaked.
While I know horses and cows are not humans, Sally Fallon, author of Nourishing Traditions states regarding the soaking/fermenting processes:
“Such processes neutralize phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors. Vitamin content increases, particularly B vitamins. Tannins, complex sugars, gluten and other difficult-to-digest substances are partially broken down into simpler components that are more readily available for absorption.”
Like horses and cows, our ancestors ate whole grains, but they were nothing like what is presented to us in today’s diet. Our ancestors soaked their grains before using them. Horses and cows are foraging creatures, not designed to digest grains. Look at the number of equine low starch/NSC feeds that are coming available these days. Wonder why …
Unfortunately, Gwen was born and raised at a conventional dairy. She got her mother’s milk for maybe three days, then she was put on a gallon of milk-replacer for a few weeks and then she had grain pushed on her. Her digestive system was not developed enough to digest grains. She should have been consuming her mother’s milk and then allowed to graze. Instead she was kept in a calf hut, then a tiny stall with grain in front of her 24/7. It was either eat the grain or starve. Now, she consumes a lot of grass and hay, more than she got at the dairy. Her grain is to keep her in condition and to keep her in one place when I milk her. The calves we have raised on milk and grass are perfect examples of how a calf should grow. Wally is always saying that our calves do not look like the skinny, little Jersey calves that you usually see. Poor Gwen was at a disadvantage the day she was born. As Nita says in this well-written post (all of her posts are well-written) (why do the good people all live so far away?): “A cow with a poorly functioning rumen should be thought of as a lame horse. Still getting around but not 100% for sure. No one thinks of making a horse run the race if it is lame, but we expect dairy cows to produce, produce and produce.”
I hope one day to have a milk cow that I can raise the right way. I can’t wait to move on the dairy goats that I have that were reared in the conventional method. In fact, last night Wally and I were talking about that and I think what we might do is to just leave the babies on their mothers 24/7 and not milk them at all until Gwen starts to slow down. I know I’ll have to milk Heavenly because, as Wally said, she’s my “other cow,” but the others will do just fine with their babies consuming their milk. That way, we won’t have to worry about warm and dry facilities for kids. They can be with their mothers drinking warm milk and keeping warm, maybe for as long as three months. Who knows …
I use homeopathy and other natural methods to keep all of my animals healthy. It works quite well. Gwen has improved tremendously. Our horses look a whole lot better than they did when we got them. Sudi (he was being feed dry, whole corn and oats) had some surface cracks on his front feet and those are all but gone. I do things a lot differently than most people … I think about things and research, a lot … so far, most of my methods have worked pretty darned well.
Until later …