But a farm animal in the right place at the right time can help a farmer.
Many farmers are uncertain about mixing animals and trees.
In the program today, you will see why trees and animals can be a good combination.
First, let’s ask the question: how can trees help animals?
Immediately, I can think of a few ways.
[Note to broadcaster: This is a good opportunity to interview farmers and use their responses in your program. Here are some examples of answers they might give.]
Trees in a windbreak protect farm animals from heat, cold, and wind.
You can plant a windbreak around the field where animals graze or around their stalls to protect livestock from the heat, cold, and wind.
With shade and shelter, animals grow faster and larger.
Trees also provide many kinds of leaves, fruits, nuts, and seeds for livestock feed.
Animals can also graze on fallen tree pods or fruits such as mangoes.
Or you can cut and carry leaves and fruit to livestock in a pen.
And remember that some trees produce good livestock feed—pods and leaves—in the dry season, when grasses and other animal foods are hard to find.
But are animals useful to trees?
[Note to broadcaster: Here is another opportunity to invite farmer or audience participation.]
Animal manure is excellent fertilizer.
And animals spread this excellent fertilizer all over your land.
Even if your animals are kept in a pen, you can carry manure to the garden or field, and mix it with soil.
So animals provide fertilizer.
They also provide pest control.
Most livestock eat insects and weeds.
For example, chickens eat many kinds of insect pests.
Ducks eat snail pests in rice paddies.
Sheep, cattle, and geese eat weeds around trees in the orchard.
Goats and cows graze on weeds in coconut and rubber tree farms.
Animals can even do some of your ploughing for you!
Pigs, turkeys, and chickens scratch and dig the soil.
They are tilling your soil!
This is excellent preparation for planting.
Let your animals do some of the work when you are ready to prepare your field for planting.
Allow pigs or turkeys or chickens into the field for a few days.
They will begin the process of tilling the land.
So animals and trees can help each other.
But you must manage them carefully.
It is best to keep your animals in a pen or stall, except when you want them to do a job for you.
There’s another advantage to keeping livestock in stalls or pens.
Your children don’t have to stay home to watch the animals.
They can go to school instead!
Animals provide low-cost pest control.
And free fertilizer.
Just be sure that you manage them carefully.
And select the kinds of animals that best meet your family’s needs.
Contributed by: Vijay Cuddeford, Writer/Researcher, Farm Radio Network.
Reviewed by: Dan Gudahl, Program Director, African Region, Heifer Project International.
Working trees for agriculture. United States Department of Agriculture, National Agroforestry Center. www.unl.edu/nac/ https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1000&context=workingtrees
Animals in Agroforestry, by Craig Elevitch and Kim Wilkinson, The Overstory #35. https://www.agroforestry.org/the-overstory/229-overstory-35-animals-in-agroforestry