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OUR GROUNDING

It is all about soil... and plants... and insects... and birds.... and livestock

What we are trying to do here at Solhem is manage the landscape in a way that maximise production. But for us production is not only about producing meat it is about producing deep soils with permanent pastures contains a variety of plants with deep roots. We like uneven 'untidy' pasture, because plants, insects, birds, reptiles and mammals like uneven 'untidy pasture and luckily so do our animals. it means we struggle to use large machines, but by managing land in this way we measure productivity in terms of things such as bio-diversity, bio-mass, and carbon storage; managing for Nature to provide for ourself, our livestock and for our customers

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Meat as a by-product

We don't want you to eat more meat, if anything we want you to eat less. This may seem counterproductive for a business with sale of meat as our primary financial income, but while there is only a market for products like meat, farming produces so much more than meat. This is the case for most farming, what makes us different from many other producers is the emphasis we place on the other things, like soil structure, carbon management, bio-diversity, that farmers often do for free. As such we see meat and eggs as a by-product of farming rather than its focus. We foreground what our animals produce in terms of keeping the landscape open, building soils, helping to capture atmospheric carbon, and producing habitats for insects, arachnids and other critters.for example we are excited that we have 5 of the 6 species of reptiles that live in Sweden, more than 60 species of birds and an abundance of butterflies, moths damsel and dragon flies. This abundance is the standards by which we judge 'productivity'. 

 

The livestock benefit from this bio diversity, visibly enjoy rooting in the soil and grazing the permanent pasture. When the time comes those animals that do not stay on as breeding stock go a small, local slaughterhouse and from there direct to the consumer. 

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Rare Breeds and Feed and Forage

Our breeds are Traditional or Rare breeds, chosen as they are suited to our farming system. Our Pigs are certified linderödssvin a traditional Swedish breed. There are only around 500 certified Linderödssvin left and we consider it important to maintain these animals but also integrate them in commercial production. They are more robust than other breeds and can tolerate the Swedish climate and are happy to be outside even in the cold dark winters. The sows usually have just one litter per year (compared to 2 or 3 in intensive production units). They grow big, boars reaching 250-300Kg but slowly, considerably slower than commercial breeds and are often a year old when they go to slaughter. The piglets are with the sow for about 8 weeks before they are fully weaned eating forage and fodder. During the warmer months, the pigs get a lot of their diet from the forage, eating grass, slugs, worms and anything else they can find. We supplement this with grain from local farms and in the winter they get hay or silage to eat along with their grain ration. you can read more about this breed on the breed website (https://landtsvinet.se). Unlike most pigs, our animals are outside most of the year. We do bring them inside for farrowing or at the coldest and wettest time of the year (December- March). 

Our sheep are predominantly Swedish Finull. This rare breed are a medium sized sheep bred for both wool and meat. Like other rare breeds, they do well on slightly 'poorer' forage and do well on our varied pasture. Like many sheep farmers, we lamb indoors in the Spring with the Ewes and lambs moving outside as the weather improves. The lambs grow on during the summer months and those who are not kept for breeding stock go to slaughter in the Autumn, with a few kept on over winter for slaughter in the Spring. Sheep are susceptible to lots of parasites and diseases which we manage through a system of rotational grazing. this minimises the need for routine medication. 

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Mixed species rotational grazing

We operate a system where the animals are rotated around the pasture on a regular basis. Our 1 hectare fields are subdivided into smaller paddocks of about 800 square meters. the animals are rotated through these paddocks, moving on average, every 5 days and not returning to the same paddock for 60 days. This is key to our farming philosophy.

 

Through the different grazing habits of different animals we work the land without the need for ploughing it up or reseeding. This isn't to say that we don't ever use a plough, we do, but our pastures are predominantly managed through grazing. As such plants get the chance to develop deep roots that can help to fix carbon from the atmosphere - up to 2 tonnes per hectare per year (add source). It also means that different micro-climates are created in the pasture such as damp hollows and drier mounds at different times of the year allowing different seeds are able to germinate and providing varied habitat for animal life. furthermore mane is evenly distributed over the entire field as they graze. 

The environmental benefits are formost, but there are also important benefits for the animals, namely that because of the rotational system there is less chance for any parasites to complete their lifecycle while the animals are present, thereby limiting chances of infection. this in turn means that we do not need to rely as heavily on medication as some farming systems do. pigs and sheep have different parasites and so can follow after one another without risk of infection. 

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