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  Animal Husbandry in Biodynamic Agriculture                                     

Cow & calf
Animals on biodynamic farms must be able to express all aspects of their innate behaviour with minimum stress

abstracted from Biodynamic Agriculture by Willy Schilthuis

The Farm Organism & its Cycles
BullockAnimals ensure that there is a cycle of substances on a farm. What livestock, for example, eat as fodder and then digest, later becomes partly available in the form of manure. The manure is returned to the land and the land can then produce more fodder and other products. This cycle of substances is permeated with life forces and qualities and this gives the farm its own individual quality.

Lucern fodderTherefore the ideal set-up for a biodynamic farm is a mixed farm with livestock and fodder crops, producing its own manure for the soil. This farm is (or should be) a self-supporting closed organism, in which the different organs such as the fields, the manure, the meadows and the animals all interrelate properly. One organ should not produce more than what is needed by the other organs, except of course for what is produced for human consumption. Foreign elements, such as artificial fertilizers or bought-in feed, which do not belong in this organism, are not constantly introduced on this farm. Elements are assimilated from the air such as the nitrogen which is absorbed by leguminous plants, the carbon dioxide which is assimilated and the energy of the sun. The farm feeds on these and the food produced for man is created as a contribution to life on Earth.

Animals and the Farm Organism
CowsSo far we have referred to the earth, water, air, heat and plants. Animals are also part of all this. However, they have a very different mode of life and therefore a different place in the interrelated system. They are not rooted in the earth, but are able to move about freely. They do not live on minerals and water and light like plants, but need living matter as food in the form of plants or other animals.

There is another big difference: they have instincts, passions, feelings of hunger and thirst. They are able to express these feelings and take steps to satisfy their needs. In other words, animals not only have a physical body and a life body like plants, but they have a higher organization which enables them to act in a more independent and free fashion. They can express their feelings through their behaviour, they can make us hear their call; they have an inner world and can clearly react to and even affect the outer world, digging a hole or building a nest. Therefore, they are less dependent on the earth, less rooted in the life body of the earth.

This organization, which gives animals their consciousness and the potential to express themselves, is known as their ‘astral body’ or ‘sentient body.’ It is called ‘astral’ because the forces which act on the astral body come from the world of stars and planets.

GauriEvery animal has its own life body and its own inner world of feelings, or astral body. However, all animals of a single species are interrelated in an even higher organization, as revealed in their behaviour and instincts. All hares have the same instincts and behave in the same way, as do all deer and all foxes. Sometimes this instinctive behaviour is less strong in domesticated species, when the human influence is dominant. Nevertheless, our domestic animals and the livestock on a farm all clearly have their own species-bound behaviour. Cows walk differently, behave differently and graze differently from sheep or horses. Goats are different again.

Although these animals may graze in the same field under the same conditions, their manure will have a completely different composition. The grass which they eat is assimilated and processed in a very different way in a cow and in a sheep. Cow manure is soft and slimy and flows down to form a cow pat. Sheep droppings appear in the form of solid, round pellets and these droppings smell very different from cow pats. The effect of these different types of manure on the soil is also very different. When an animal digests fodder, the substances and life forces assimilated from the plant nutrients are useful and necessary for it. What is excreted has been worked upon by the animal, with its astral body. Astral forces are contained in the manure, and these are expressed, for example, in the form of the odour and properties of the manure.

The soil therefore receives very new and valuable additions from this manure. The soil is enriched by these astral forces and is therefore better able to develop its own soil life, to form humus and to become more open to the beneficial effects of the sun, the moon and the other planets on the plants.

A N I M A L       C A R E
Identify with your animals
Look after them as family
This prospective solves most problems.

Cattle -- Milking Cows
The cow is connected with the land

1. Feed biodynamic food -- mostly green
1-2 kg wheat grass for cows,
esp. during hot season or drought
happy and healthy if being well-fed
good feeding should begin as a calf
wean only after 3-4 months

There is some evidence that giving grain reduces nutritional quality of their milk
and meat also lowers resistance to disease.

2. Regular exercise is required
aids in easy calf delivery

3. Shady but airy shed
warm floors as you yourself would like

4. Can be trained when young to urinate on sound of a whistle –
to aid in collecting cow urine for biodynamic remedies, etc.

5. Breeding
get your own bull
mating ‘best’ to ‘best’ leads to mediocrity
go look for pure Indian breeds

6. Health Note
Foot & Mouth disease is only a 2-week disease

Their scratching gives the soil deep litter

1. Feed good BD pulses, grain for good eggs
corn, kumbe, millet
50% diet should be green

2. Clean airy living conditions
warm, dry, straw

3. Have a few hens, roosters walking around
but feed them in the hen house
then they can go out to walk and return
for shade or sleep and laying eggs

Each farm has to find the right types of animals and their number in connection to the farm’s crop. Soil, animals and the manure from them can thus be brought into a fruitful co-operation.

Grazing Livestock
If you are planning to graze the animals through an area where you will be growing vegetables or a cover crop the next year, how you manage the pasture is less important than other issues, such as soil fertility and weed management. However, if you plan to graze the animals in pastures which will be permanent, you will need to pay some attention to pasture management so that the grasses and clovers stay productive over time. A simple grazing rotation will be better than no rotation.



BDAI Secretariat
#20, 16th 'C' Main, 2nd 'A' Cross, 4th Block, Koramangala, Bangalore 560 034, India
bdaind(at) or Secretary at secretary(at)         Tel: +(91) 9448 067 088