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Home  > Question of the Week

Question of the Week

Permalink Where can I find information on integrating small livestock into a greenhouse?


Answer: While rabbits and chickens can provide warmth in a greenhouse, it is important to make sure they receive adequate ventilation. The higher humidity and temperature of a greenhouse can be problematic. Some good resources are materials about Anna Edey’s solar greenhouse that incorporates livestock. Edey is able to raise rabbits and chickens in her greenhouse, and she uses an "earth-lung" to filter out the toxic ammonia gas. Also, Rick Meisterheim in Michigan received a SARE grant in the mid-90s to look at integrating poultry into a greenhouse.


Edey, Anna. 1998. Solviva. Trailblazer Press, Martha’s Vineyard, MA.

Edey, Anna. 1994. Solviva greenhouse: Something new under the sun. The Growing EDGE. Volume 5, No. 3.

Jannasch, Rupert. 2004. Heater hens and hothouses. The Canadian Organic Grower. Summer. p. 46-47.

Lee, Andy. 1994. Chicken Tractor. Good Earth Publications, Shelburne, VT.

MacDougall, Ellie. 1993. Anna Edey grows with nature at Solviva. Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener. November-December. p. 16-17.

Meisterheim, Rick. 1998. SARE Final Report.

Mollison, Bill. No date. Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual. Tagari Publication, Tyalgum Australia.



Permalink Where can I find sources of old-style dairy cattle?


Answer: Finding Guernsey and Jersey stock that has not been "bred up" is somewhat difficult. These two breeds are considered major dairy breeds and have been in commercial dairy production for quite a long time in the U.S. Therefore, finding stock that has not been bred for commercial production is difficult.

I suggest you contact the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC). The ALBC keeps lists of breeders of Guernsey cattle. Guernsey cattle are on their list of breeds to watch, as they are becoming more and more rare. You can contact them at or 919-542-5704. The breeders of dairy cattle associated with the ALBC may know of sources of Guernsey and Jersey stock that haven't been heavily bred and have characteristics of more traditional stock.

To locate breeders and sources of cattle you can also contact the American Guernsey Association at or 614-864-2409; California Guernsey Cattle Club at or 209-632-7539; and the American Jersey Cattle Association at or 641-861-3636.

It may take you some time to locate cattle that haven't been bred for today's conventional production systems. I would suggest you visit some breeders and talk with other producers to find the type of animals you are looking for. You may find cattle with the genetics and characteristics you are looking for in smaller herds where heavy production hasn't been bred for. Farms that maintain closed herds and those that don't employ artificial insemination (AI) may have cattle that resemble the "old type" of cow that you are looking for.

If you are interested in dairy cattle that haven't been bred up for conventional dairying, you may want to consider other breeds such as the Dutch Belted or Milking Devon. These breeds, along with others, are less common and have not been "bred up" for conventional production. You can obtain more information about these breeds from the ALBC.



Permalink What can you tell me about snail (escargot) farming?


Answer: Because snails are serious agricultural pests in regions warm enough for them to overwinter, some states regulate the culture or production of certain snail species. Therefore, the first thing to do is to consult with your state Department of Agriculture regarding regulations governing the shipping and/or production of snails.

The Resources listed below include a couple of articles that discuss snail production and processing. Several successful snail operations are described along with some of their innovative marketing strategies. Note that marketing is usually the responsibility of the producer. A prospective snail farmer should decide whether he or she has the interest and skills needed for this part of the business as part of the initial enterprise analysis. Comprehensive market research should be completed before committing resources toward production.

Another consideration is the amount of time required to reach full production. Beginning with a few hundred breeders, it will take several years to produce enough quantity to sell. It would be wise to begin raising snail as a hobby so that one can learn the "livestock's" needs, estimate production costs, and fine-tune an efficient production system.

The National Agricultural Library (NAL) offers an excellent publication, Raising Snails, that includes information about various species grown for human and animal feed, their environmental requirements (including feeds), and equipment needed. Contacts with established producers and electronic resources as well as a research bibliography are also listed.

Another useful publication is distributed by an agency in Saskatchewan. Its focus is on industry and market analysis. Until their supply is gone, copies can be obtained free by calling the number on the cover (306-787-8523).

Another book, Snail Production Techniques (1), focuses on the biology and production requirements of the snail. Please contact Frescargot Farms, Inc., to order a copy directly or for information on their other services and materials. They may be able to refer you to snail farmers who are willing to consult with you on your specific questions.

Although several sources say the market is excellent, it is important to investigate where the product can be sold locally and at what price. When considering signing up with a snail company that offers a package of services (a package might include breeder animals, information/training, and/or buy-back contracts), here are some ways to assure that they are legitimate.

1. The Better Business Bureau keeps records of frauds and complaints against companies. Their website has information including how to figure out whether a deal is a scam.

2. Ask for three references to long-standing, satisfied producers. Check them.

3. Check references from retailers of the finished snails.

4. Ask for a sample contract and have a lawyer check it out.

If you plan to market your product directly to customers, ATTRA’s publication Direct Marketing can provide further information to help in your research.


1) Johnson, R.V. 1988. Snail Production Techniques. Frescargot Farms, Inc., Sanger, CA. 97 p. Available from:
Frescargot Farms, Inc.
P.O. Box 790
Sanger, CA 93657
(559) 875-2053 [9 a.m. - 5 p.m. PST]

Cost: $33, includes shipping and handling. Frescargot Farms, Inc. also offers a video tape on snail production techniques. The video is 40 minutes and costs $40.00. You can receive the publications and video for $65 (incl. shipping & handling).


Kreek, Holger, Marilyn Reid, and Shirley Thorn. 1990. Snail Farming. The Agriculture Development and Diversification Secretariat, Regina, Saskatchewan.

Silva, Beth. 1999. Heliculture is hot and markets are many: Snail farms demonstrate that there’s more than one way to sell a snail! Pt. 1. AgVENTURES. February-March. p. 47-48.

Silva, Beth. 1999. Heliculture is hot and markets are many: Snail farmers demonstrate that there’s more than one way to sell a snail! Pt. 2. AgVENTURES. April-May. p. 44-46, 61.

Thompson, Rebecca and Sheldon Cheney. 2001. Raising Snails. 39 p.



Permalink Is cottonseed meal a good supplemental feed for sheep and goats?


Answer: Here are several resources that discuss feeding sheep and goats. These articles talk about basic feeding requirements, forages, and supplementation (including the value of cotton seed meal as a feed). One thing you should do is have your forages tested. This will let you know what your animals are getting and if they need additional supplementation. Your local Extension agent may be able to help you determine the proper feeding regimen for your animals.

I have also included a couple of articles about grazing alfalfa. These articles discuss ways to prevent bloat.


Luginbuhl, J.M., Poore, M., Mueller, J.P., & Green, J.T. n.d. Forage Needs and Grazing Management for Meat Goats in the Humid Southeast. North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service.

Pinkerton, F. & Pinkerton, B. n.d. Feeding Programs for Meat Goats.

Pinkerton, F. & Pinkerton, B. n.d. Supplemental Winter Feeding of Goats.

Pinkerton, F. & Pinkerton, B. n.d. Managing Forages for Meat Goats.

Peterson, P. 2002. Forage for goats.

Luginbuhl, J.M., Green, J.T., Mueller, J.P., & Poore, M.H. n.d. Forage Needs for Meat Goats and Sheep.

Umberger, S. 1996. Feeding Sheep.

Poore, M.H. & Green, J.T. n.d. Use of Alfalfa Pasture for Finishing Lambs.



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