Yes. Human weight loss. I’m going to write a post about feeding cattle and how I feel that is analogous to human weight loss. How’s that for ambition? I think there is enough here to chew on for a bit without going too deep on the topic.
We recently bought the Hayless Wintering in Florida DVD set by Jim Elizondo. You may think $119 is a bit high for a movie but if you feed 25 fewer small square bales of grass hay the first year you have broken even. You may also think that since he’s in Florida and you’re not he has nothing to offer you. You would be wrong. Anyway, in that DVD Jim says cattle can overeat by 40% trying to get enough of a specific mineral they are lacking. I want to spend some time on that idea.
Cattle know what they need. It is not uncommon for cattle to select a specific mineral they want from an array and just pick the ones they need and in the quantity required. That’s the whole concept behind the Free Choice Minerals programs and you can see it at work in one of our favorite youtube videos about milking cows (skip to 7:45):
But let’s say minerals are in short supply. What’s a cow to do? Well, this grass over here has a small amount of X in it so I’ll just eat more of it. As much as 40% more than the cow needs to maintain condition. Jim says he has seen cattle with scars on their sides from overfilling the rumen and tearing the skin. Those cows were seeking better mineralization.
If the cow had sufficient nutrition it wouldn’t be eating that extra feed. Another cow would. You with me on this? If this is true, you could have 40% more animals on the same forage and land if the cattle were getting proper minerals. In fact, FCE says the cow can overeat by 50%!
Read that again! That’s money in your pocket!
Jim goes into detail on working with the existing pasture to improve nutrition and mineralization over time. He says he offers a source of protein supplement when feeding lignified pasture (dead, brown, old grass) to cattle…usually flax seed meal as bean meal is almost all GMO. That may go against the grazing ideal we all have in our minds but when seeking to improve pasture health (the real goal) you have to enable the cattle to thrive. The added protein helps the rumen to digest low-protein, dried grasses. Play with the cards you are dealt. Supplement carefully where needed to maintain nutrition levels over time, making the best use of what is available. This applies to our meal planning at home…working with what we have in terms of ingredients and in terms of budget.
So what does this have to do with human weight loss? Well, maybe nothing. But maybe everything.
If cattle can overeat to make up for a lack of nutrients can we do the same? Do we do the same…even without realizing it? Would you suggest the average American is thin and eats food that in nutritionally dense in small quantities or would you say we, as Americans are overweight, eating nutritionally poor food in large quantities? Is it possible that we are consuming some portion of those calories, not simply because we crave fat, salt and sweet, but because our body is telling us we need something that we aren’t getting elsewhere. So we eat more. And the extras that come packaged with that whatever we are looking for don’t simply pass through as unnecessary excesses. Some of them deposit themselves in, around and under us.
This came to mind in a conversation with my lovely bride who, without any real effort, is losing weight. Now, maybe our data is off and she has a tapeworm or a tumor causing weight loss but assume with me that she is as healthy or more than the average 30-something woman with four children. What has changed?
For the last year Julie has been taking a very high-quality vitamin supplement (the FDA says I can’t tell you the name cause speech isn’t free). I noticed her jeans were getting baggy and we started paying more attention to what was going on. She says she needs to eat less at a meal to feel satisfied. Otherwise, she is limiting (not eliminating) wheat. We cook with bacon grease. There are still cookies or brownies in the house from time to time. We still drink wine and hard cider and the occasional soda. But mostly she eats high-quality foods we grow or purchase, drinks water or coffee and takes her vitamins. For exercise she walks to the cows and chickens and picks up at least one feed bag every day of the week. All of that has been essentially the same for the last 4 years. The switch from a multi-vitamin to (no free speech) was the only real change.
Maybe I’m mistaken but it appears to me that paying attention to nutrition and mineralization can not only increase our livestock health and carrying capacity, it also puts my already thin wife into even smaller jeans and makes better use of our food budget.
For the sake of disclosure, I am switching to FCE’s mineral program right now but I stand to make nothing by mentioning their product nor by linking to a scale manufacturer. My wife does sell the vitamins she takes and would be happy to sell them to you. But I wrote this post out of a sense of amazement, not seeking sales.