Category Archives: Bokashi pets

Even pet waste can be recycled with Bokashi

I’ve had a few questions lately about cat litter and how to use it in conjunction with Bokashi. There’s a lot of good information here on Bokashicycle, a great US-based company working with Bokashi in many applications.

But the basic principle is sprinkle some Bokashi bran in your cat tray now and then, it will help absorb odour and speed up the subsequent breakdown process. You can also do a special Bokashi bucket for dog and cat poo, just use a standard airtight bucket and use newspaper or the litter itself to absorb any liquid. The key thing here is to bury it in a flower bed — not your veggie patch. Just to be on the safe side.

Personally cat litter isn’t something I know a lot about. Our cat Dipsen, proudly presented above, is well and truly an outdoor cat. The kind of guy you like to have taking care of the place, that is at least when he’s not sleeping or keeping himself warm on my computer. But we live in the country, with a wheat field 5m from the kitchen window. Yep, you got it — wheat field = mice and that means a busy hunting cat doesn’t have far to go to have fun. But he keeps the house and sheds nice and rat free for us.

On the plus side, this means we’ve had plenty of scope for doing rat-and-mice bokashi tests. I know it’s hard to believe but mice/rats just aren’t keen on Bokashi. The pH is too low, it’s too acidic in other words. Given that we have a good setup for testing I regularly put bags of Bokashi out in strategic spots to see if they’ll get any small furry customers. And so far not a nibble. So I would say the theory holds. But if you’re worried you could always do a small scale test, a bit of Bokashi in a plastic bag (sealed of course) and put it out in a likely spot. Let us know how it goes!

And good luck with those cat trays!

Bokashi chooks

 

If there’s one thing I’d love to do when I grow up it would be to have a bunch of chooks running around the yard. We have the space, but right now looking out at all the snow my head just spins with the practicalities of it all. Build a barn? Heat it? HEAT IT??!! Keep the poor guys indoors for months at a time till the snow melts? Not to mention the eggs-are-fine-but-there’s-no-way-I’m-eating-our-pets family discussions. And the what-do-we-do-when-we-want-to-go-away bit. On the other hand there is only one (ONE!) supplier of organic chickens in Sweden. They cost a fortune and have a fair few transport miles on them, but are just delicious. And I think we feel better if the animals have lived well.

But someday, somehow we’ll solve this chicken dilemna and find a way to stock the yard!

Meanwhile, I’m rather curious about the whole Bokashi+Chooks concept. Seems like it’s an interesting combination and is probably more widespread than we realise in Asia and other parts of the world.

One option is to feed the chooks Bokashi bran direct (the same stuff you would use in your bucket). The effective microorganisms (EM) in Bokashi work as probiotics in the digestive system of the animals and help them feel better, stay healthier and lay more eggs. You can also spray liquid EM in their drinking water for a similar effect. In Japan at a farm run by the Konohana family, they mix Bokashi bran into the bedding and create a warmer, healthier environment.

And then we have Pelle and his chickens in the ex Czechoslovakia — he does the usual kitchen compost thing with Bokashi (taking care not to include anything like ice-cream sticks or potplants) and feeds the fermented leftovers to the family chooks straight off. They love it apparently and have been laying more eggs than they used to. Which is surely a good thing — although his mother-in-law has some sympathy with the chickens having to work so hard laying eggs all the time. Female to female empathy as it were…

If you’re interested, there’s a Bokashi thread starting here on a Guinea Fowl forum (who would ever know such things existed? The forum I mean, not the guinea fowl…). There’s also quite a bit of info on the EM sites in the US and New Zealand (links to the right). The Latin America EM site is also excellent.

These guys in the UK are selling Bokashi bran to people with hens, so the concept is far from new. What’s particularly interesting is how EM/Bokashi also starts the process of soil improvement right there in the chicken stage. Chicken poo is great for the garden but too strong to use directly, too acidic. The EM helps balance this out so the fertiliser is more “useable”, so on top of happy chickens we get the added bonus of happy soil. More here too from the guys at Wiggly Wigglers in the UK.

Wish I had some chooks so I could test myself. But maybe you have? It would be great to hear what you think!

Tim the dog…and his Bokashi diet

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This is our dog Tim. He’s a Norwegian Lundehund, almost five years old now. Full of beans and a truly lovable character. Lundehunds are a breed under rescue, some 50 years ago there were only a handful left on earth, huddled on a stormy island in the Lofoten archipelago on the far NW coast of Norway. They’re as close as you can get to a primitive dog, still much as they were hundreds (thousands?) of years ago. Smart, lovable, slow as anything to housetrain. Six toes for hanging onto the precipitous stormy cliffs of Lofoten when they were climbing in and out of holes looking for puffins — these were true work dogs well into the last century. A family could own ten or more, each worth as much as a cow (a lot in other words, if you think back on the tough life in Northern Norway in those days) and they were sent out to bring home puffins. A huge source of income (puffin feathers) and meat (which was salted down for the winter).

ANYHOW. The thing is with Tim that he is healthy as anything. He bounces around here where we live in the country with no cars to worry about and thinks all animals are his friends (we have deer and moose passing by regularly, tons of geese, cranes and a lot more we never see). And he’s been eating Bokashi for some time now.

Not a lot, just a sprinkle on his food each day. He has nothing against it, just woofs it down with the rest of his dinner. We can’t prove that it makes him healthier, but it certainly does him no harm. (All the bacteria in Bokashi are approved by the FDA because they exist readily in nature anyhow.)

We all know by now how important it is with probiotics — I don’t know how it is where you are, but here the TV is full of ads telling us how we need probiotic bacteria in our yoghurt, in our butter, in our you-name-it. Soon it will be in our toothpaste. But why not? We humans go round with a couple of kilograms of bacteria in our guts — a couple of kilos! That’s how all the work gets done down there. Get some bad ones in the mix and we all know what trouble we can expect. The usual solution then is of course antibiotics. Anti. Biotics. Anti. Life. Antibiotics kill off all bacteria, the good along with the bad, and our gut is left in limbo.

The idea with probiotics is obviously then to move in some healthy bacteria — the right kind — into your gut. If your bacteria culture has been wiped out with antibiotics, probiotics will help restore it. If you’re in reasonable shape anyway, probiotics will help ensure you stay that way.

And that’s why we add Bokashi bacteria to our dog’s food. These are age old bacteria that work in harmony with the other age old bacteria in the digestive system. Keeping our number one dog nice and healthy and full of mischief. The way we like it!

PS Read more on the various EM sites (the NZ one is good) about the use of Bokashi and EM in general with pets, horses and livestock. This is a growing movement, with documented health benefits. Very interesting to look into if you’re interested.

PPS You might wonder why we don’t eat it ourselves if we feed it to our dog. Actually it works fine (great baked into bread), but there are many complex rules and regulations around what one is and isn’t allowed to say and this is not something that can be officially discussed. But obviously we wouldn’t feed anything to our dog we wouldn’t be prepared to eat ourselves.