Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Chillies

 

Growing chillies at home is not only more sustainable than buying them from a shop, but enables you to find a variety of chilli at the right point on the Scoville scale for your individual pain threshold. These are 'Peruvian Purple' and for me they fall in the Goldilocks Zone. Chillies are too mild if you use three of them in a meal and still can't taste them; they are too hot if you have to dissect them individually into portions to stop them ruining your meal, and then 4 hours later and after washing your hands three times you absently stick your finger up your nose... I digress.

The hottest chilli in the world is contested between the breeders of 'Dragon's Breath' and 'Pepper X', both reputed to be in excess of two million Scovilles, which has led to some experts voicing concerns that eating such chillies could cause anaphylactic shock in addition to already documented side-effects. Why anyone would want to eat these is beyond me, but breeding exceedingly hot chillies has scientific and commercial value as the yield of the active component capsaicin is increased.

Most chilli varieties are genuine breeds, so by retaining seeds you can grow more chillies with exactly the same culinary attributes as the parent plants.

Friday, 1 October 2021

Pavement Pastel Poult


To get this colour on a turkey requires cracking a genetic combination lock of four different loci. It's a yellow-shoulder with a single dilution gene (homozygous blackwing base, homozygous grey, and the absence of Narragansett alleles overlaid with heterozygous slate). I don't know if there's ever been an official name for it, but I'm going with Pavement Pastel Poult.

 

Gallows Humour and a Dead Cria

 I did earlier this year have three lovely crias. The cria in the foreground of this picture was female and I had taken to calling Treacle (young alpacas should not be given names and should at all times be referred to as 'it' until they are at least 6 months old for reasons that should become apparent).


This cria was born perfect, but at 4 weeks old, developed aspiration pneumonia. Off we went to the vets to get antibiotics, and for a few days it was touch and go and the cria slept on the floor in the porch, and then she rallied and was once again doing well. But then at 6 weeks old the cria developed ataxia which progressively developed into a paralysis of the base of the neck which can be seen in the above picture. We tried many things with the vets: blood tests to check for deficiencies, which there were none, painkillers and steroids, and finally I found a research paper that discovered discospondylitis in an alpaca (an abscess between the vertebrae of the spinal column) and we started antibiotics in case it was this.

Unfortunately this was too late and the symptoms progressed further into paralysis of the front limbs and scoliosis. The vets and I were in agreement that the cria did not have the quality of life to justify keeping her alive. Normally, when this has to happen, I would bring the animal concerned to a quiet place about the farm and have it humanely and instantly killed with a rifle shot to the head by a person with a firearms certificate. However, it was necessary to have a necropsy to try to find out what had happened, and as we couldn't rule out a brain problem, we decided to euthanise the cria in the vet's car park. Unfortunately alpacas have cardiopulmonary systems adapted to high altitude, and they do not go gently into that good night. After a few seconds the cria was unconscious and undoubtedly out of her misery; two bottles of pentobarbital later, the cria was finally dead.

I put the dead cria into the car and set off for Bristol University. As I was driving through Bristol city centre, the car suddenly lost all power. I managed to get it into a bus rank and called the RAC.

Now, I don't usually go into cities if I can avoid it. As I sat in a stuffy car on a torrid September Saturday, I found myself watching the buses. I wondered if I should just take the dead cria and get a bus to the university. But the people in the city dressed rather oddly and did not seem at all like people in the countryside, and it occurred to me that they might take great offence at me being on a bus with a dead alpaca slung over my shoulder or taking up a seat that should be given to someone pregnant or disabled.

The RAC man arrived, and he asked if I had been dropping someone off in the bus rank.

Well, I said, I can guarantee you won't have heard this story before, but I've a dead alpaca in my boot and I'm taking it to Bristol university to be studied in the name of science and closure.

Turns out, I was right and he had never heard that story before. He found out what was wrong with the car, but could not obtain the part to fix it. So my dead cria had to be towed back home in the car.

Fortunately, after much pesterment and badgering, Mr Brock-o-Dale Rare Breeds agreed to drive to Bristol, and my dead cria at last went to university (universities let in anyone these days), and the necropsy went ahead. We found out the cria did have a spinal abscess as we had suspected too late to effectively treat. I do feel it is important to do these things and to learn from them. Bacteria must have migrated following the initial infection to cause this, so any cria that gets aspiration pneumonia in future or has ataxia will be going on a longer course of antibiotics as a precaution, and I'm leaving this here in the hope it might help another alpaca breeder with a sick cria.

RIP cria 22/7/21-18/9/21


Saturday, 26 June 2021

Some Plants My Animals Love -- and I do too!

Lucerne, King of the Forage Legumes


Lucerne is called alfalfa in the USA and Canada, and sometimes in the UK products made from it are marketed under this name or 'lucie', particularly when aimed at the horse and pony market. Lucerne has been used to feed livestock since ancient times and is one of the most productive and highest protein forages that can be grown. It has an advanced deep-delving root structure and of course, as do all legumes, it fixes nitrogen as well as carbon.

If lucerne is king, it's a bit of a tyrannous monarch. For a start, it's autotoxic. 'Toxic' is one of those abused words that has a specific scientific meaning that has been corrupted by entering the common vernacular, and all this really means is that mature lucerne plants leach hormones into the soil that impede the germination and establishment of more lucerne close to the parent plants, which means new lucerne plants can't seed and get going in established stands. This has no effect on anything other than lucerne, and probably evolved to reduce the impact of the very large root systems of the plants competing with each other for space. It does mean that if you have a pasture in which lucerne is a component and you need to destroy it and reseed it for whatever reason, lucerne won't re-establish in it unless you use it for something else for several years.

Secondly, lucerne has rather an antisocial reproductive habit. Its pollen is deficient in some amino acids important to the diet of pollinating insects. This generally isn't a problem unless you plant acres and acres of lucerne with no other flowering plants, since bees can always make up for it by foraging other flowers. However, the flowers have an odd mechanism that hits the bees on the head to deposit pollen on them when they access the flowers. Bees don't like being banged on the bonce, same as everything else, and learn to either avoid the lucerne or eat through the side of the flowers to bypass its bee-bashing machinery.

Lastly, lucerne as grazing can be hazardous to some ruminants, in particular cows, as it ferments aggressively in them and can cause a buildup of foam that can blow up the animal's digestive tract and potentially kill it. This is less of a problem when lucerne is included in a diverse sward rather than used as a pure stand, and seems to be less of a problem in sheep and even less so in alpacas.

Like any king, lucerne has a crown. In this case it's a sort of woody knobbly thing visible at the soil surface from which the plant sprouts following its winter dormancy and after it's been eaten. The crown is the only visible part of the plant's enormous root structure which in mature plants is apparently anywhere from 2 m to a massive 15 m deep.

Sainfoin... Queen of the Forage Legumes...?


The sainfoin plants around here are not very big as they were only planted this year. At maturity they are impressive plants with lupin-like pink flowers. There is one growing wild by a roundabout nearby, which I haven't taken a picture of because I'm always driving when I see it. More and more I am noticing that roadsides and waste ground is being maintained in the same way as meadows these days, which is great for biodiversity and for motorists to enjoy.

Back when countries were ruled by kings, the king was determined arbitrarily by birth order, which meant the populace were stuck with whatever king they got, which could put the country in a dire situation if the king had serious flaws. To compensate for this, the king could marry someone who made up for his deficiencies, and would often pick a queen who was diplomatic or had other characteristics that appealed to the masses. While sainfoin isn't as well-known as lucerne, they complement each other in this way, and sainfoin can ameliorate the bee-bashing, cow-inflating tyranny of lucerne.

Sainfoin is not as rich in protein nor as high-yielding as lucerne, but it has some superpowers. It contains condensed tannins which when ingested by livestock have several remarkable benefits. First of all, they work to break down the foam that can develop in ruminants as a result of rapid fermentation, preventing gas bloating. Secondly, they bind to proteins in the rumen so they pass into the intestines without being broken down and make the animal digest them more efficiently, and the third effect is that as a direct result of this more efficient digestion, the animals produce less methane. It is also an antihelminthic, which means it can actually help to reduce and prevent intestinal worms in animals grazing on it.

Of all the legumes, sainfoin produces the highest quantity and quality of nectar. It is rocket fuel for bees and other pollinators. Like lucerne, it is deep-rooting and drought resistant. Despite being grown since ancient times and despite all its qualities, sainfoin has fallen from favour since the World Wars. Considering all its qualities, it is perplexing why anyone with livestock would not want to grow it.

 

A video of a huge area of sainfoin, probably for making hay, by Patrick Funk

Burnet and Chicory

Burnet and chicory are two herbs that seem to do rather well for themselves even in quite aggressive grazing conditions. I deliberately let a paddock get hammered this spring because I wanted to overseed it to make it more diverse. The animals ate everything to almost ground level. When I inspected the field to see if seedlings were growing, there was a burnet plant and a few chicories doing very well that clearly were not seedlings and must have arrived earlier by being carried in by animals. They are both deep-rooting plants and chicory also has antihelminthic properties for animals grazing on it. I almost feel bad writing this as so much snake oil is peddled claiming to 'reduce worms naturally' but there is real research on this that shows it is effective. Chicory has attractive blue flowers on it in late summer, this one not quite yet.



Ribgrass is another deep-rooting plant purported to have anthelminthic properties. It thrives anywhere, including on building sites in solid clay.


The Wildflowers

I must admit I get as much enjoyment from my wildflower meadow as I do my actual garden, and the wildflower meadow involves much less work.

Pyramidal orchid

Musk mallow

Various wildflowers: campions, oxeye daisy, and bedstraw

Birdsfoot trefoil and red clover, both legumes

The Scarlet Pimpernel

Bath Asparagus

Hogweed. Alpacas like eating it. Also good on a pizza.

Sunday, 23 May 2021

Penny the Paca


 This is Penny. Poppy gave birth to Penny about a month ago, and they were both doing great. A couple of years ago, when Poppy had her last cria Trillian, she was remated and started rejecting Trillian after she ovulated, but then re-accepted Trillian and it turned out had not held her pregnancy. As it was late in the year and we weren't sure what was going on, we waited until the next spring before letting Poppy mate again, and the result a little under a year later was Penny.

Unfortunately, after Poppy was mated again, she has done the exact same thing and rejected Penny, and this time seems to have held her pregnancy and now wants nothing to do with her own cria, so now Penny is having to have cow milk four times a day. The weather has been awful recently and we had to move the pacas off the good grazing because it was so wet, so I'm hoping it will get better soon so they can go back.

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

The Ever-Present Risk of Bottleneck Events in Breeds

 A genetic bottleneck is a crisis in a species, subspecies, breed, or other population that permanently reduces the available gene pool of that population.

Pretty much all domestic breeds were affected by the two World Wars, when resources were taken over by the war effort and people were conscripted, and breeders were simply not there or could not afford to continue their bloodlines. The psychological scars of the wars also led to some breeds of Germanic origins being rebranded to obfuscate their associations, such as German Shepherd Dog to 'Alsatian', German Boarhound to 'Great Dane', and poodles to 'French poodles'.

Hitler was interested in German Shepherds not because Blondi (pictured) met her breed standard or by all accounts had a wonderful temperament, but because of an absurd Nazi philosophy that wild animals are 'pure' and that domestic animals who superficially resemble wild ones are 'purer' than ones who do not. Appallingly, Blondi was poisoned with cyanide and her perfectly healthy puppies shot shortly before Hitler committed suicide, adding crimes against the German Shepherd breed to the atrocities he had committed against humanity.

Bottlenecks due to wars and other outside influences are beyond the control of breeders, but some bottlenecks occur because of poor decisions by breeders themselves. The most obvious and notorious bottleneck event is the popular sire. This is a male who produces an inordinate number of offspring with a large proportion of the available females in the breed, to the point that it becomes difficult to find males who are not related to him a few generations later. Although popular sires and other bottleneck events are often not inbreeding events, they inevitably result in inbreeding and loss of overall heterosis downstream as it becomes extremely difficult to avoid having the popular sire on both sides of the pedigree, often multiple times. A poodle dog born in 1981 was successful at conformation shows, and as a result this dog produced in excess of 100 litters, and it is now impossible to find a black or brown poodle descended from British bloodlines that passed through that era that does not have this dog in the pedigree at least once. Fortunately people seem to have been more sensible since then, as no dog who has enjoyed success at conformation since then has been so overbred since. However, sires can sometimes be overused more insidiously, or for well-meaning reasons, such as many people using a dog because he has good health test results, or because an imported dog offers (or is thought to offer) the chance of an unrelated mate and low COI offspring, and ironically the problem is only realised two generations later.

Bottlenecks have always occurred in the wild as well as in domestic breeds, so they are to some extent unavoidable. What breeders need to strive to do is avoid what is avoidable, and mitigate the damage caused by what isn't avoidable.

Registration trends in Poodle (Standard)

Poodles as a breed and poodle breeders are living through what can probably be politely termed 'interesting times' in recent decades. Most recently, we have the pandemic, which has increased demand for puppies and it is thought may be attracting people into breeding dogs for the wrong reasons, while simultaneously perhaps putting a damper on more established breeders by making it difficult to travel to use a male, to go abroad, or to go to a vet for AI or accurate progesterone tests. Concern has also risen amongst careful breeders about the suitability of the sorts of people applying to buy a puppy. Similar concerns hit breeders in the early 2000s due to the emergence of the novelty mongrel fad which saw poodles attract puppy farmers and deadbeat breeders as components to produce mix-breed puppies to market as 'hypoallergenic'. Many older more established breeders decided at this point to cease breeding because of concerns about their puppies and bloodlines ending up in bad breeding establishments. Older breeders are always going to leave the breed at some point, but situations like this perhaps precipitate their departure and make it more likely they will not have a suitable protégé to leave their line with.

'Boom and bust' cycles of demand in any breed are harmful to the gene pool. At the start of the boom, the breed may experience an influx of 'bandwagon jumpers' with little serious interest in it, while at the same time suffering an exodus of jaded older breeders pushed into retirement after becoming frustrated with having to field enquiries from unsuitable buyers. When the cycle busts and the popularity of the breed declines, all the bandwagon jumpers jump off the bandwagon and the bloodlines they got hold of disappear, for better or worse. Bloodlines that have ended up in puppy farms tend to be viewed as contaminated despite how noble their origins might have been, and end up dying out. The dedicated breeders who stay with the breed are unlikely to have a proportional representation of all the bloodlines that were present before the boom started, so when the gene pool contracts, it does not do so evenly.

In addition to trends in popularity of whole breeds, breeds can sometimes experience internal trends, particularly if certain colours suddenly become either unpopular or popular. In poodles, there are two such trends that have occurred in recent years. Firstly, the colour red either didn't originally occur in standards as it did in the other sizes of poodle, or it was lost during one of the World Wars. Red was recovered or introduced to standards from the other varieties, in countries outside the UK because the KC considers the varieties of poodle to be separate breeds and won't register their offspring. Imported red poodles started to appear in the UK around the start of the 2010s and the colour wasn't available here prior to this. Since then, the number of puppies registered as red has quickly increased.

Graph showing the percentage of puppies registered as red and 'colour not recognised by KC' in the BRS, starting with the 4th quarter of 2014 (1) to the second quarter of 2020 (23)

Secondly, a similar trend has occurred with the registration of puppies recorded as 'colour not recognised by KC', with few, sporadic registrations occurring prior to the early 2010s and increasing numbers of litters that are largely or sometimes entirely registered with this description. These animals are most likely mainly S-locus and agouti mismarks (there is a contradiction in the breed standard in that it states all solid colours are acceptable, but doesn't allow silver beige and café au lait to be recorded when registering pups, but looking at the pedigrees I suspect they aren't SB or CAL). S-locus and agouti mismarks are produced by combinations of recessive genes that have always been present in the breed and have probably always occurred at a low level.

What is potentially concerning is the rapid increase in these registrations. The data suggest the trend may have plateaued and possibly be starting to decline. The pie chart above shows the distribution of colour registrations of the CNR peak in the 2nd quarter 2018, when 'CNR' was the second most frequent registered 'colour' after black. The records suggest that CNR puppies are produced largely from imported stock that despite its country of import, traces back to the same names originating from USA dogs. Red puppies seem to be produced mainly from a handful of imported dogs in combination with apricot lines bred in the UK. This may be in part because the gene pool of apricots is not large and using red dogs is seen as a valid outcross, but this could become problematic further downstream if the same lines are being used, and could lead to the loss of the British apricot bloodlines as a distinct subgroup of the breed. What is most concerning is that the boom could be followed by a bust, possibly during the future recovery from the pandemic, and that the traditional colours will be in greater demand, causing the bottom to fall out of the market and hit the demand for the recently trending colours hardest.

Some recent phenomena of note:

An imported dog registered as being an unrecognised colour with a hip score almost three times higher than the median for the breed produced a number of litters, not an extremely high number of litters, but many of the dog's offspring seem to be subsequently being used for breeding. This is one of the more insidious ways a dog can end up being a popular sire, even if the owner of the dog is cautious not to let him be overused. Several offspring of this dog have been hip scored, and not one of them has a result better than the median for the breed. This isn't a criticism of the merits of the careful use of dogs with not quite perfect attributes or a discussion about hip scoring, but it demonstrates how popular sires can have an effect on the distribution of genetics in the breed, in particular genetics that might not be beneficial.

Of the dogs who have sired the most litters in standard poodles in the past decade, the three highest-siring dogs produce large numbers of puppies registered as either red or CNR, and have produced 24, 17, and 14 litters respectively. All three dogs are relatively young, having only produced litters in the past 2-4 years. There are a number of dogs producing traditional-coloured puppies who have sired 10-13 litters and most of these are much older and have produced a number of litters more commensurate with their age.

Bottleneck Events in Alpacas

Surprisingly, alpacas seem to have not experienced any significant bottleneck events since they started being bred in the UK. This is quite unusual for a breed, particularly one that wasn't native and was thus reliant entirely on imports to start the population here. Alpaca pedigrees at most trace back up to around 8 generations before reaching animals imported from Peru and Chile on which no pedigree data is available. It's possible that bottleneck events occurred prior to this, and alpacas have a woeful genetic history since their heyday during the Inca empire, but I think it's likely that breeding practices were chaotic and serious bottleneck events probably didn't occur.

There are alpaca pedigrees on this image (with COIs written under the names), but you might have to zoom in to see them.

There are a couple of recurring ancestors that seem to be present in quite a lot of pedigrees, but none of them are so prevalent that they're likely to become a popular sire issue in future. Interestingly my best alpaca is the most inbred, with a negligible COI of 3% (which most breeders of other domestic species would be thrilled to achieve).
This does not, however, rule out bottleneck events occurring in future if alpaca breeders are not vigilant to them.

How to Avoid Bottleneck Events

In this post I've only talked about two species/breeds I'm familiar with, and I can't speak for those I'm not. Some bottleneck events occur because of circumstances outside of anyone's control (such as pandemics and wars) but there are general rules that should be capable of being applied to a person working with any population that will help.

Firstly, try to avoid using males who have already sired a large number of offspring. This unfortunately doesn't help if you were the first person to use a male who was subsequently overbred, or if a male was used once to produce a litter and all the offspring in the litter produced large numbers of grandchildren, but it does go a long way to impeding the emergence of a popular sire. An underutilised brother of a popular sire isn't as good from a genetic standpoint as an unrelated, unused male, but is still the better choice if he's the only realistic alternative.

Do not get involved in a breed and do not choose a male to use for any reason to do with 'popular' colours or trends. To get involved with breeding anything for the purpose of an easy way to make money is a bad idea. When you take on a breed, you are becoming a custodian of that breed and you are responsible for the bloodline you create and preserving it, and eventually for passing it on to someone you trust. All breeds need new breeders, but they need to be in it for the right reasons. Don't do it if you're not prepared to stick at it and carry that responsibility.

If you are coming into a breed, try to find a bloodline that is not being widely bred. Some of this is difficult because there's only so much legwork you can do and a knowledge ceiling you're going to hit before you have to take the plunge and obtain something and actually, well, breed, and continue your learning and your development as a breeder. Most people make mistakes with their first acquisitions, but hopefully with enough research it's something you can still improve on later. Most of this is deep pedigree analysis. There are some DNA analyses around but the development of this sort of technology is still at a level where it needs to be seen as a complement to accurate pedigree research and not a replacement.

If reproductive technology is available for your animal, THEN USE IT. Frozen semen can be a lifeline for a breed if mistakes get made or uncontrollable disasters occur, and in theory it can last indefinitely, meaning semen you store might benefit your breed centuries after your death. Hopefully specialist vets should be more accessible soon, if they're not sick of deadbeats asking them to reproduce dogs that can't mate naturally and pandemic puppy farmers requesting they inseminate Chihuahua semen into Bullmastiffs for the next novelty mutt fad.

Saturday, 24 April 2021

Diverse Swards (What Is Grass?)

Part 4 in a series of blog posts about grazing management. Part 1 Part 2 Part 3.

Cows and sheep eat grass. Even small children know this. But what actually is grass? Grasses are an evolutionary family called Poaceae which probably first evolved during the Cretaceous and contains around 10,000 species. That's twice the number of species of mammal that exist, so 'grass' could be almost anything. What's more is that what's in the pasture for animals to eat might contain species from many more different families of plants than just grasses, and that can be a really good thing not just for the grazing animals, but for the plants themselves and for wildlife and the environment.

PLANTS

Plants can be loosely divided in practical terms (rather than taxonomical ones) by their lifecycle. Annuals are plants that complete their entire lifecycle within one season and must reproduce in that timeframe in order to continue. Biennials last for two seasons, and perennials should last several years.

GRASSES

Grass species all photosynthesise, which removes carbon from the atmosphere by converting it into more grass, and they all have roots which helps to stabilise the soil structure and provide habitats for fungi and soil-dwelling insects and microorganisms. Poaceae in most cases reproduce by wind-borne pollen. This is the reason arable grass crops such as wheat are often criticised for being barren deserts in terms of supporting pollinating insects. Grasses are adapted to regrow after their foliage has been eaten, originally by dinosaurs and in more modern times by grazing mammals.

Ryegrasses are a group of grass species that has been associated with farming as it has been practised since around the time of the Second World War. They became popular because they are easy to make silage from and they grow well if you throw petrochemical fertilisers on them. Recently many people have raised concerns that ryegrass because of its shallow roots and fertiliser dependence and high sugar and low mineral content. However, ryegrass in itself isn't necessarily bad, and these characteristics only become problems when ryegrass is grown as the only species. Some ryegrasses are annuals or biennials such as Italian ryegrass, and others are perennials.

Grasses other than ryegrasses include species that have various common names such as cocksfoot, timothy, and fescue. These grasses usually have deeper roots than ryegrass and are more tolerant of drought. Because they have longer roots, they mine minerals from deeper in the soil and make them available to other plants and to animals grazing them.

LEGUMES

Legumes fix nitrogen. What this means is that, as well as doing everything that grass does, legumes have commensal bacteria living inside nodules on their roots, just as we have commensal bacteria living inside us that help us to digest what we eat. Legumes take nitrogen gas from the air and convert it into soluble nitrogen such as ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates. These forms of nitrogen are biochemically the same as what is found in fertilisers. Legumes thus fertilise the soil over time and benefit other plants without having to throw petrochemical fertilisers on it. Legumes are also high in protein because of their nitrogen fixing, and nutritious to animals, and a massively important component to a diverse sward. Legumes that may be found in swards include clover, vetch, lucerne, and sainfoin. Legumes are flowering plants that benefit pollinating insects.




HERBS

Herbs are probably to most people something you put in your food to make it smell nice. 'Herbs' as the word is used for plants found in swards doesn't seem to have any clear taxonomic definition, but refers to plants other than grasses or legumes that are nutritious for animals to eat and might have additional beneficial effects such as reducing parasites. Herbs include things like chicory and cow parsley. They are usually flowering plants and also benefit insects.

WILDFLOWERS

Wildflowers are flowering plants that are not particularly nutritious for animals to eat, but that are neither harmful. They are usually valued in grazing because the plants themselves are rare and because they are part of the ecosystem of a particular area and provide food or habitats for wildlife.

WEEDS

Plants that are poisonous to livestock such as hemlock, ragwort, and buttercup are not welcome in the sward for obvious reasons. Plants that are invasive and can end up dominating the sward and outcompeting other species are detrimental to biodiversity. Harmless native plants such as docks and dandelions in a pasture are not really weeds, but can apparently be problematic when making hay and some farmers don't like them. Most weeds can be controlled or to some extent avoided by careful pasture management.

DIVERSE SWARDS

A diverse sward contains multiple species of plants. Diverse swards benefit livestock and the environment, but interestingly growing different species together produces more biomass than growing the species individually. Some of this can be explained by plants with smaller root systems fitting between ones with larger roots efficiently and legumes producing nitrogen that benefits grasses, but the effect is far larger than could be expected and scientific understanding at the moment hasn't been able to fully account for this. There is a wonderful online lecture that discusses this and lots more about diverse swards in the video below by Ian Wilkinson of Cotswold Seeds.

NEXT TIME

Most people get into keeping livestock because they love the animals. However, if you love animals who eat plants, you have to learn to love plants too! Next time, some plants I particularly love and I hope you will love too.