We at Hiland Naturals use Fertrell in our GMO-free livestock feed because we think it’s important to give your family the best nature has to offer, so you, in turn, can raise healthy food. We recently spoke with Jeff Mattocks, Vice President and Animal Nutrition Specialist at Fertrell, about the importance of healthy soil, healthy animals, and healthy people.
In the first part of our interview, we talked to Jeff about raising animals and feeding people in the best possible way. Here you’ll read all about eating organic and starting your own backyard farm.
HN: More people today are dedicated to eating organic than ever before. What do you think is responsible for this change in philosophy in the way we eat?
Jeff: Believe it or not, a lot of the medical community, the doctors are telling people to eat organic. There’s enough media out there, there’s enough media coverage of the side effects of chemical residues, there’s always articles popping up. Now California’s faced with having antibiotic and hormone residues in their water systems. In any heavy, dense agricultural area, these are the same things that we’re seeing. All of these bad things that we’ve been using since the chemical era—which started right after World War II—so basically 1945, 1946 when chemicals were being used much more greatly in agriculture. That last 70 years of farming has finally caught up to our ground water. People are seeing that these chemical residues that are left on our grains are feeding our animals, are feeding the people and are creating negative side effects in human health.
The media and the modern medical world have finally caught on that eating organic is going to be the way to go.
HN: It’s actually kind of crazy when you think about it—70 years for the earth is not a lot of time at all, so we’ve really got to be doing some significant damage if it’s affecting humans after only 70 years of farming that way.
Jeff: We find that if we were to quit using those today—in most of our observations—it takes the earth twice as long to fix itself.
HN: That’s a little bit scary.
Jeff: That’s a lot scary! If one generation has screwed up, we’re looking at two generations to try and get it fixed.
HN: We’ve talked a little bit about organic and having all the nutrients in our food—and none of the bad stuff! Truly the best way to do this is to eat local. Eat the GMO-free items being sold by farmers near you who are putting all of this into practice. What if you wanted to start out as a farmer?
Jeff: Boy, I don’t even know where to begin; there’s so much to cover there. I would tell them to start right at the top; if you can afford it, you go right to organic. For sure, you go non-GMO. The marketplace is so hungry for good local food that anybody could do it. New farmers falter at either the processing and manufacturing side and they’re really good marketers, or they falter at the marketing side and they don’t know how to get rid of their product. People need to go into it knowing that they’ll either be really good at making it or really good at selling it. There’s that rare few that can actually grow it and market it efficiently.
HN: What about the backyard farmer who is just looking to start a sustainable farming practice to support their own family?
Jeff: There are some really great organizations depending on what we’re talking about. Are we talking about chickens? Are we talking about produce? Are we talking about crop production?
The sustainable AG movement is really large. There’s lots of organizations that people can fall back on for great information. A good starting point is ATTRA, which is the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). ATTRA is a really neat organization and a great starting point to give you some good ideas and concepts. They give you that first stepping stone, enough articles to get you to the next level to get you headed down the right road.
HN: Hiland Naturals feed is designed specifically for the farmer who wants GMO-free, organic products. What’s your favorite Fertrell product for the backyard farmer?
Jeff: Our favorite product here for the backyard farmer or producer is going to be the Fertrell Poultry Nutri Balancer—which Hiland Naturals is currently using in their feed. That’s got so many safeguards built into or added insurances that it takes away a lot of potential problems a first-time grower might see. We build in extra vitamins, we build in extra probiotics, we build in extra trace minerals in insure optimum health in the bird. It’s a very good growing experience for any new farmer.
And of all the animals out there, poultry’s the easiest one to get started with. Somebody can go down to the local feed store and get six baby chicks, and it’s a great family project. There’s no health or hazard threats to a young family with small children. It’s a great way to bring them in with animals or livestock without worrying about them getting trampled.
HN: Chickens are great for responsibility as well. Little kids can help spread the feed and gather the eggs, so not only do chickens provide for the family, but they allow for children to gain some real world experience and exhibit some responsibility.
Jeff: The sooner you can do it, the better. When they’re two, three, or four years old, that’s perfect. Chickens are nonthreatening and children get to bond with the poultry from the farm, and it’s just a win-win. As they get bigger, the livestock can get bigger—you can add pigs, or you can add sheep, or you can add a goat. Poultry is really the entry level livestock for people starting out.
Missed the first installment of our interview with Jeff Mattocks? You can find it here. For more information from Jeff and from Fertrell, visit Fertrell.com.