Do Your Goats Eat Seaweed? The Scoop on Feeding Kelp to Livestock

feeding kelp to animals

I like to post a variety of content here on The Prairie Homestead, and for the most part, we keep it pretty light and fun. But every once and a while, I like to dive in a little deeper and explore the science behind some of my crazy natural choices. I am ecstatic to be welcoming Eric Zielinski back to the blog today. He is a health coach and skilled researcher who specializes in natural topics that are right up my alley! From time to time, he’ll be joining us and sharing some of his research, as is the case for today’s kelp post.

Have you fed your cows their kelp today?

I know… I may have just confirmed your suspicions that I’m a little bit off my rocker… but hear me out. ;)

In its most basic sense, kelp is simply a type of edible seaweed, and yes, some folks do indeed feed it to their livestock. Read on for details!

A Little Background on Kelp…

Kelp is a marine brown algae that is loaded with nutrition (more on that below!). It’s similar to nori, which is what sushi is traditionally wrapped in, but is used much differently. If the thought of you or your livestock eating sushi or seaweed grosses you out, then I have to warn you: you’re probably consuming kelp in one form or another on a regular basis!

Algin, an emulsifying and bonding agent, is extracted from kelp and is commonly used to make:

  • Dairy products
  • Frozen foods
  • Puddings
  • Salad dressings
  • Shampoos
  • Store-bought cakes & baked goods
  • Toothpastes
  • And even pharmaceuticals

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), each year 100,000 – 170,000 wet tons of kelp is harvested from California waters alone. It’s mind-blowing to think that we can use almost 3 million cubic feet from America’s West Coast underwater kelp forests!… [Continue Reading]

Come Take a Walk Around The Prairie Homestead! (Video)

farm video tour

For those of you who have been following me since the beginning…

You know that my photography skills started out a little rough.

I still don’t claim to be a pro, but at least they have gotten better. However, my video skills are definitely still in the “I have no idea what I’m doing” stage.

But today, I put aside my hesitations and perfectionist nature, and drug my camera out to the pasture anyway. Just because I love you guys. :)

Wanna Go for a Walk?

Let’s head down the barn and I’ll show ya around. I took this video first thing in the morning when the grass was still wet with dew, and the animals were wondering why I was taking a video instead of feeding them (sorry guys!).

In this tour video you’ll meet:

  • Oakley and the rest of our little cattle herd
  • The opinionated pigs
  • Our cute little turkeys
  • Annie, one of the resident equines
  • The goats who firmly believe they are horses
  • And various yard birds

Let’s Go!

If you are reading this post via email, click here to watch the video directly on YouTube

(There are a couple of mess-ups with the sound, but don’t worry, you didn’t really miss anything–I was just rambling)


homestead video tour


 … [Continue Reading]

Become a Beekeeper: 8 Steps to Getting Started with Honeybees

beginning beekeeping

Beekeeping is one of those things that utterly fascinates me, but I haven’t added any bees to my homestead… YET. In the meantime, I love learning from homestead beekeepers such as Amy from The Vomiting Chicken. Not only are bees a wonderful addition to a homestead of any size, keeping bees has much greater importance than just providing you with raw honey. Read on for details!

They’re dying by the millions.

Since 2006 honeybees responsible for pollinating more than 100 crops—from apples to zucchini—have been dying by the millions. Though there have been news reports of this crisis, most people still aren’t aware of it. It’s a complex problem, and experts haven’t agreed on the primary reason for it: Colony Collapse Disorder, other diseases, and two kinds of mites are killing entire colonies, but they don’t understand exactly why.

Here’s a scary fact for you: Researchers have found that a combination of common pesticides can interfere with bees’ brains. Bees that cannot learn, will not be able to find food. If bees can’t find food, they will die. Simple as that.

An estimated third of all crops worldwide would disappear, if honeybees disappeared. Think this couldn’t happen? Probably nobody believed that the passenger pigeon would ever be extinct, but the last one on earth was shot exactly a hundred years ago.


Beautiful blossoms. Waiting for the bees.

The point is, it could happen. But here’s the thing: we can do something about it, though we need to act quickly. There are things we can do to help the honeybees survive. Here’s one: you can get started with your own hive of honeybees.

We keep three hives going, though it has become difficult to keep the bees alive and healthy. We love the honey and I use it every day, in one delicious form or another.[Continue Reading]

10 Tricks to Stop Your Milk Cow from Kicking

prevent milk cow kicking

I’m welcoming back Kate from Venison for Dinner today as she wraps up her two-part series on milk cows that kick. I love these tips and have used several of them!

So now you’ve figured out WHY your cow is kicking…but what are you going to do about it?! Put these ten practical tricks to help the cow AND help you!

The first thing you must ALWAYS do, is calm yourself down. Without fail, if we are in a rush, feeling antsy, trying to hurry, she will be grumpy. I take a few breaths, and have even said out loud to the cow “Okay Will, we’re okay, it’s okay if you kick the bucket, I’m going to milk you out now, it’s okay if you milk the bucket.” And you know what? She didn’t kick the bucket after a long streak of kicking every time. You’re stressed = They’re stressed.

10 Tricks to Stop Your Milk Cow from Kicking

1. Use a kicker rope or kicker bar. This is my go to for a cow I know is consistently going to kick. I loop a thick rope around her tummy, in front of her udder and hips. It pulls tight to put firm pressure on in front of her hips which is a pressure point that slightly immobolizes them. I find it doesn’t stop them from kicking, but it makes her kicks slower and shortens her range of motion. I give this one with caution, because one time Marius pulled it too tight and the cow tried to kick and fell over. I’ve never had that happen, or heard of it happening otherwise, but it’s a possibility.

2. Have an extra bucket or pot to pour into. This is my insurance policy and personally, it calms ME down to know that I can easily grab away the bucket as it doesn’t have a whole lot of milk, AND if she does kick, I’m not losing the whole milking’s worth.… [Continue Reading]