In response to yesterday's blog post A Yummy Experiment, a poster raised an excellent point as follows:
You've said on other posts the chickens are fed bought-in feed -- and I assume the cows have supplemental feed in the winter. This reminds me of a community I know that claims to be 100% self-sufficient in chicken and chicken products -- they're ready for any that hits us -- but feeds them almost entirely on bought-in feed! I know this is Scroogey, but the reality is that if this boat goes down, even the most determined of us is going to have a hellish struggle.
This poster is entirely 100% correct. We do rely on store-bought chicken feed, and we purchase hay for our cattle for winter feed. We're fully aware we're not 100% self-sufficient (which raises an entirely separate question of whether 100% self-sufficiency is even possible without reverting to caveman hunter-gatherer status).
We are taking a two-pronged approach for feeding our livestock when and if purchased feeds are no longer available. The first prong is simply to stock up on feeds to the best of our ability. The second prong is to be able to feed the livestock on what we can grow/raise/gather ourselves.
Chickens can get by on grain (such as cracked corn and wheat), though mineral supplements are certainly handy (having the ladies free-range helps in this regard). Under "bleep" conditions, we are prepared to cultivate both wheat and corn in greater quantities for animal feed. I don't know if it will be enough to maintain a large flock, but hopefully it will sustain a small flock. Spring wheat doesn't need irrigation; we have enough drip irrigation hoses to dramatically expand the amount of corn we grow.
As for the cattle, if we are unable to purchase hay, it means we all fan out with scythes to the surrounding fields and begin cutting by hand. It won't be easy and it won't be fun, but we have the tools to do it. We'd also be drastically reducing our herd size.
This poster is even more correct in that, no matter how "prepared" anyone likes to believe they are, we are ALL in for "a hellish struggle" if the bleep hits the fan. It's one of the reasons we're trying to acquire both tools AND skills now, while we still have the luxury of failure.
I am interested in hearing how other people are addressing the issue of store-bough animal feed, and what to do if it's not available.