Too Fat

I am very particular about what my animals eat. Especially if I intend to eat that animal myself. But an animal that I am raising for  the freezer is fed very differently from an animal that I am raising to keep.


A pregnant animal eats very healthily but the feed is lean. We do not want their babies to get so big that the mother has a problem with birthing or have complications during her pregnancy.  An animal that we hope to breed also needs to stay lean so her fertility stays high and she has a long healthy life.  A lactating animal needs lots of high protein feed to produce lots of good milk.  So each of these diets is different.  And in a small scale operation like mine that creates problems. I will not raise animals in small pens standing alone. Everyone has to be able to access the outside, (except our poor chickens because of the very real predator  risk outside so they have an extra huge hen house.) Because I believe that excercise  and natural light is a very important component in animal health (this is why the chickens have one entire wall of wire netting. )


But I still think I am feeding everyone too much. My hay has a very high protein.  The alfalfa hay is mixed with the grass hay, a scant half bale a day.  And with the animals being is such tiny numbers there is not enough competition for Queenie and she is eating more than her share. Though when it is really cold I try to feed more roughage.


Anyway my first change is to grow feed with a lower protein, sow a few acres of good grass for hay.  Each hay field will be different,(grass or alfalfa or oats)  then I have better control over the animals weight.  At the moment Queenie should be on tough grass hay. Elsie on maintainance amounts of alfalfa and grass hay. Aunty Del should be on a strong low fat growing diet, and the Bobbys on a get-fat diet.  None of the cows get grain at this point. The pigs get a littlegrain  with good alfalfa hay and fruit and vegetables.


But less. If you feed an animal until they are full this creates a series of changes that are often not useful.  The same applies to a person and dogs and cats. If we all eat too much until we are full every single time we will also lose condition and struggle with the  repercussions of having lard packed around our internal organs.  Too much weight on our knees.  Too much fat in the belly.  Sleep problems. More health problems.


The Lady Vet was here yesterday to take Queenie’s blood. And she has concluded that Queenie is too fat.


Not too, too fat? I said, hopefully, she has lost some weight.

Cecilia, The Lady Vet said sternly this cow is really big. Really, really  big.  It is unlikely that she will have been bred.


Queenie roamed my very good pastures all summer. It was an exceptional year for grazing and we were understocked so she really could pick all the best.  Then she visited the bull and his herd, ate as much corn as she could stuff into her mouth and now she is an obese cow. She is the bully too, so she shoves everyone else aside to get their share too.

The Lady Vet looked critically at Elsie and said she does not need to lose any weight and does not need to be putting any on either.

So we will continue the maintainence diet for her.Cows-003

So really what I am learning hard is not to feed animals until they are full. And not to feed people until they are full either. Being a little bit hungry is actually a good thing for us all.  Less is indeed best.  Which goes against the grain when we are feeding animals but there you are.

Sorry I am late this morning.

We had a late night last night, I slept in this morning and then it was one thing after another.

I hope you all have a lovely day. I am off in to The Matriarchs to have a little maintainence lunch!

Your friend on the farmy



58 Comments on “Too Fat

  1. I noticed you ate very very little for your “dinner” the other night. Ithinktheyregreatl you said an egg, a pear and a glass of wine. Wow! You aren’t kidding about always being a little bit hungry is good for everyone.

  2. Gosh, you are so right Celi! The maintenance diet really is the way to go. We worry about our goats, and who is too fat, and of course it is that one who is bullying the others and eating the most!. So separation is important when feeding, and more hay than grain. Sleeping in is a much needed treat, so good on you! Have a wonderful day at the Matriarch’s! 🙂

    • I separate the hay, feeding them apart like that but still Queenie is a bully.. I hate the close the gate betweeen them though, cows are such herd animals..c

  3. talking about people with too much weight around the middle…have you been peeking into my house? That surely is one of my problems…..not you peeking but me being too podgy….like Queenie.
    I did not realize that you had to be a nutritionist as well as a farmer lady..what a lot you have to know, so really its a case of learning by trial and error but not too many errors eh!

  4. Longitudinal studies in humans have found that diets that leave people slightly hungry result in longer lifestyles. In other words, if people remain “a little hungry” they live longer, up to the 100s in some cases. It’s likely to be true for most mammals, since we share the preponderance of DNA.

  5. Good advice on not eating until full. I know you will make a good decision with Queenie though it doesn’t sound like an easy one.

    • Morning Candy, she might be better off in a bigger herd… wish she could stay here though.. we will see.. c

  6. To little thoughts from me.. I am a very heavy gal, (to many good meals) but I often get amused that folks are always surprised that my critters tend to be on the leaner side, but it just better for them.. when I used to show my dogs, my handlers would says.. put an extra X amount of pounds on the dogs, and I would sigh, they were in perfect lean hard work muscle, which the vets loved and the judges thought a touch thin.

    I struggle to keep the pigs leaner, for my weaner piglets its not a issue to me, I want the fat, both for rendering for house use and for soap making.. but for the breeding critters, you have to watch it..

    I find the rabbits are the ones that have to be watched the closest.. even a tiny bit to much weight can effect their reproductive health.

    But on the hand, when it comes to my horses I struggle more.. my vet and ferrier say they are in excellent body condition but I have a hard time keeping them from getting heavy or a touch thinner then I would like.. with the horses and their tummies work, they need to not have long periods without munching..

    Its something that only farmers need to worry about.. the breeding ones, the milking ones, the growing babies, and the putting on the pounds etc.. so many things to learn and do, and if you run a number of critter programs.. o my. you should see my big white board at times..

    • Interesting about the rabbits.. my kunekune are horrors for weight, and they makes o much noise about not getting enough.. wheras when theya re grazing and i feed them nothiing else at all they are perfect. I suppose that would be like the horses, eating small amounts often is better.. us too i think..

  7. Good advice for all of us, especially those of us with the pudgy middle aged sections! I hope this means that Queenie will get a diet and another chance to breed if she isn’t bred, but understand if you have to make a hard decision there…I guess either way it’s hard, actually.

    • Now that i am into my middler years it is so much harder to take weight off too.. same for this cow I think.. c

  8. Very interesting and very appropriate for the post-holiday season. I went to sleep somewhat hungry (not really hungry–which I have never been) the night before last and slept much, much better than I had in weeks!

    • Interesting isn’t it.. on sundays we have sunday lunch at Johns Mums and so don’t have much tea (dinner) at all (maybe another pear) and it certainly is a better evening feeling, not being over weighted down with food at bedtime.. and I love food.. i often eat too much because it is tasty!.. c

  9. When I moved to a farm some months ago I was so shocked by the way of thinking… Raising an animal and feeding it in a special way because you want to eat it afterwards haha while I read this I understood how much I’ve changed my way if thinking and feeling, now I’m completely fine with that haha made me laugh so much!

    • I am glad.. I read somewhere a guy wrote, ‘you are what you are eating eats.’ It is an interesting thought – this works for vegetables too of course..

  10. My mother had a point, she always said that we should leave the table feeling like we could eat a little more. It still works for me. I hope you enjoyed the maintenance lunch with the Matriarch! I am packing my virtual bag for holiday down under!

    • I need to start packing my real bags too.. and doing some weighing.. i am taking books and constuction sets and toys instead of clothes.. hopefully it works out.. c

      • I am grinning with an image of the ‘mother of the groom’ dressed in pages of a book with a construction set hat decorated with toys! Happy packing.

  11. I just wrote a blog post on preparation. I question how prepared I am for caring for animals, especially in the winter. Seem to me that allowing an animal to eat naturally helps keep them in good condition, but their natural diet in the winter is difficult at best. All the plants are sleeping and my job is to supplement their feed. I have a lot to learn. Guess that is one reason why it’s important to start with one type of animal (for me that will be chickens) and then work up from there.

    Human animals are much the same. If we eat naturally, it helps keep us in good condition. The problem is, so many of us have learned to eat processed foods and supplement with the natural foods later (guilty as charged).

    So I have a lot to learn. Fortunately, I’m an eager learner and I will learn from good teachers, such as you.

  12. Wow, it’s bad enough as a human to diet, specially when there’s still a lot of chocolate left over from Christmas; but to have to tailor diets for so many different animals must be a nightmare. I hope you’re having a lovely Sunday. Primroses in flower here,harbingers of spring.

  13. Ugh, the what and the whys and whens of eating right. It is tricky. I was bad over Christmas, eating whatever I wanted. I am paying the price for it now, but it will come off with exercise and eating right again. I have learned a lot over the last year about what is good to eat and what isn’t, retraining and restraining myself, but I fall off the wagon sometimes, hence my holiday season extravaganza. I have a sweet tooth. All the animals and their different needs! I would need a big chart to keep everything straight in my head as well, like the post above. It is hard just getting the cats’ food right. We have two skinnies and two fatties and they all eat the same. I supplement the skinnies so they don’t get too skinny, but that causes bullying problems as well and looks from the fatties like “hey, why does he get that and I don’t?” It’s for your own good, you little fatties, say I, tho my intentions are not always appreciated. 🙂 Have a good day with the Matriarch.

    • I think a good big feed every now and then is fine and you are very good with your exercising. This is another problem with the animals in the winter, they are not out in the fields walking as they graze .. everything is so much more sedentary.. c

    • yes.. the lack of movement when it is icy and snowy is a big factor, whenever possible i throw their hay into the field so they have to walk out there to eat it, but when it is wet you don’t want them on the fields as they churn up the pasture.. it is a bit of a juggle.. off to loook at this link.. thank you!.. c

  14. Something quite sobering about this post. I think we are all too geared toward being full. It is a difficult thing to change, I find, especially with children and a seemingly “growing” husband. (He eats like a teen, and so far still looks pretty good. Knock on wood.)

    • My Mother always said it was polite to leave something on your plate at the end of the meal. I wonder if that was part of not just scoffing everything every time.. c

      • It’s interesting. My parents were the opposite…born just after the Great Depression they were raised to waste nothing, and so in their turn trained us to “clean” our plates. What started as not wasting ended up as overdoing.

  15. I think we have all learned to panic a little at hunger pangs, and regard them as a signal that we should eat immediately. Not. Fasting is natural, normal and a good way to cut down our quite excessive intake if properly managed. Use a smaller plate, take smaller bites and eat slowly and mindfully, savouring what you eat and giving thanks if it once had independent movement!

  16. When I was young I came home, run into the kitchen and told my Grandmother that I was hungry. She just looked at me. She said “you are not hungry, you have an appetite”. I must have looked puzzled -one of my specialties- and didn’t understand it right away. My Grandmother, who had survived two world wars was a smart Lady. OH Gosh now you have me going. I might have to write a post on my kitchen blog lol.

  17. when we had a cow that was bullied, we would put her in barn at feeding time to get larger share.and let her out when she was done eating.
    if you do this with elsie, it would help fatten her up a little, and extra handeling could help calm her down for milking time

    • good idea ron, when i come back i am going to start feeding her and the other cow as well in the milking room, tied, so they get used to going in and out. neither of them has been milked before, they just raised their own calves, so I hope i get a good amount of time to train them. c

  18. When my old gelding was alive we had to separate him from the mare as his teeth were worn and it took him longer to eat. We used a pipe gate to divide and close half of their run in shelter and kept him in over night but the two horses were still essentially right next to each other. We also had to limit the mare’s food as she put on weight in a heartbeat, in fact in the summer she wears a grazing muzzle, it has a small hole to limit how much grass she can grab. They did very well with this schedule, he had at least 12 hours to eat his fill and she only got so much but they were still close to each other. Trouble is that in the winter it’s digesting the forage that keeps them warm so you need to give the fatties the lower protein stuff. The old guy is gone now and the new mare can hold her own when it comes to her food. Personally, middle age has added a pudge I’m afraid, one that just won’t go away even though I’ve developed a hiatal hernia that protests (loudly and uncomfortably) if I eat too much. (sigh) Can’t win.

  19. Celi, it is always so interesting to hear the news on the farm. I would have never even thought to worry about over feeding just underfeeding but it does bring up a good point. It brings so many more risk factors just like it does for humans. Wishing you a very awesome start to 2015!

  20. I know I tend to over-feed our orphaned animals. I am glad you posted about this… it’s a good thing to consider, whoever we are feeding!

  21. I’m undertaking a bit of a personal moratorium right now in hopes of avoiding joining Queenie’s weight class. Message well taken. 🙂

  22. Us “foodies” find it hard not to overfeed oursleves and everyone else. Ha! Does this mean that you’ll be able to keep Queenie because once she loses weight she can be bred next year?

  23. Totally absorbing post even to someone who only feeds his wife, himself and one small cat. I like the bit about being slightly hungry…works for Jenny and me but the little cat thinks the idea is flawed:)

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