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We are what we eat

14 March 2019 at 15:21 0 Comments

We are what we eat

We are what we eat


A friend of mine had a good theory for how he approached his nutrition.  It was a three step approach. The first step was easy:

  • Eat anything you want

It was the second two steps that would take a bit of work:

  • Then tune in to how you feel afterwards. 

  • And ask yourself why you chose to eat it.


The premise of the whole approach was very straight forward.  On some level we know what is right for us and what is not so good for us. If only we listened to our bodies, then we would start to build up an intuitive approach to how to eat healthily. 

It is often siad that animals also have an innate ability to tune in to what they need to eat. For livestock and horses, we can go a step or two further and provide a selection of potentially appropriate plants so that they can self select when they need to. The tricky bit is knowing the selection that is needed in the first place to cover all the bases.

With ruminants there is now a very elegant system that allows farmers to observe the subtle clues that livestock give when their diet needs tweaking. 




The Obsalim system was put together by a French veterinary surgeon called Bruno Giboudeau. He had spent many years observing the livestock that he worked with.  Gradually over time he started to notice the clues that animals would give about the way their digestion was or wasn’t working. 

Similarly, with further observation, he started to notice how these clues linked into what was unbalanced within the diet. Maybe the wrong level of protein or not enough fibre. The farmer would be able to able to make adjustments and monitor how the livestock improved. Beyond this he noticed that the better the farmer was able to make adjustments, before a crisis hit in, the less clinical problems were noted. A classic example of getting better at the Green Level and so spending less time in the Red. 

The system is very simple. The are certain key things that you need to monitor within the herd. For example the coat, the dung, the eyes, the nostrils. When you have noted all the relevant features, you then go to look at a special deck of cards and choose the cards that match the features. 

At the bottom of each card you have chosen will be a series of scores that relate to things such as protein, energy, fibre. Then, by adding up all the scores from the cards you have chosen, you will reach a final score. This will then give you information about the adjustments that will be needed to create a better balance.

Some features you note may be ones that correct quite quickly.  Other features may take a bit longer. The beauty of the system is that you can re-assess as often as you like. It is a bit like taking the pulse for the nutrition of you livestock.

This is just a snap shot.  Like any skill that is worth developing, it takes some time and effort. The best way to learn is to attend a training course, then to connect with a group of farmers who are all using it.  After that it is practice, practice, practice.  Get to observing your livestock really well and get to knowing the deck of cards well. Then start to build up your experience by seeing the results you can create.


To find out more check out the following links: 

Ruminant Health - Obsalim in the UK with Edward De Beukelaer and Tony Pinkus


Obsalim - The English version of Bruno Giboudeau’s website


Holy Goat Cheese - One farm’s experience  


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