A Vertically Integrated Mixed Farm

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The Logan farm is “vertically integrated,” but that doesn’t mean it’s part of an industrial feed and processing network.

Quite the opposite. In fact, the Logan’s operation at Nesbitt, Manitoba is closer to the traditional mixed family farm model, but with some modern management practices applied.

Dwayne Logan says farming with multiple species and crops can increase overall farm productivity and well-being.

“I’m really passionate about what we do and I just wanted to share a bit about what we do and what helped us,” Logan told the Go Organic Conference in Camrose in March. “We don’t know everything but we learn every day.”

Dwayne and his wife Shelley, the fourth generation on the farm, practice vertically integrated farming, also known as layered farming.

Layered farming makes use of complementary interactions between crops, animal species and environment on the same piece of land. “We found layered farming improves our land, our animal’s health, the environment, our bottom line and increases our marketing options,” said Logan.

The approach makes the best use of all possible resources, improves pastures and makes use of the animals’ natural tendencies. The layered farming approach offers flexibility and possibility and the Logans have found they can easily adapt to market demands and price fluctuations. “I was able to adapt very quickly to changing organic wheat prices last spring,” said Logan.

Logan Farms currently has about 40 cow-calf pairs, 30 cashmere goats, 30 sheep, 50 Berkshire pigs, and 500 chickens and turkeys. The couple farm about 600 acres, 150 of which are in organic grains. The diverse range of livestock allows the Logans to spread their income generation out over the year. They direct-market as much of their organic meats as they can and offer halves, quarters and retail pieces to the urban market.

Most of the animals are housed in portable A-frame buildings, which are used for storage when they are not occupied. In the summer, the buildings may house chickens and in the winter goats.

Logan says the pigs till the land for the crops, the chickens clean the larvae left behind in the cattle feces and the goats eat brush and weeds and improve the pasture for the cattle. The pigs reduce the manure pack by digging in the manure for grubs. The pigs are pastured on two acres and till about 10 acres per year, savings fuel and tillage cost.

The Logans raise organic pastured poultry, housed in portable A-frames and kept in a mesh exterior fence. Poultry represents a quick return on investment and only requires seasonal labour and buildings. Logan said there is great demand for organic poultry and he has no difficulty marketing.

Layered farming incorporates multi-species grazing as goats, cattle and sheep all graze on the same pasture. The approach can accommodate increased stock density without disease problems.

Having a diverse livestock base allows input from younger family members, said Logan. He anticipates his daughter will be able to help with the sheep, goats and chickens when she is older.

About the author

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Alexis Kienlen

Alexis Kienlen lives in Edmonton and has been writing for Alberta Farmer since 2008. Originally from Saskatoon, Alexis is also the author of two collections of poetry, a biography, and a novel called "Mad Cow."

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