Learn to introduce and manage animals in permaculture systems. This online course covers earthworms, insects, poultry and larger animals that can be integrated into a permaculture system.

Course Code: VSS106
Fee Code: S1
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Learn to Use Animals for better effect in a Permaculture System.

  • Domesticated animals
  • Wildlife
  • Bees
  • Poultry
  • Dairy
  • Aquaculture
  • Outline how to plan and prepare zones in relation to animals. Provide step-by-step instructions and accompanying photographs or drawings.
  • Visit some outside environment close to your home such as a garden, a park, a piece of bushland or a water course
  • Arrange to visit someone who keeps a type of poultry which you are interested in.  Ask them how they feed their birds and also ask what are the most common problems they encounter and how they deal with them.
  • Water is the basis for aquaculture. What features of water are desirable for fish culture and what are not

Lesson Structure

There are 7 lessons in this course:

  1. Integrating Animals into a Permaculture System
    • Introduction
    • Maintaining a balance in the system
    • Locating animals in the right zone
    • Animals for different sectors
    • Intensive animals for zone 1
    • Small livestock for zone 2
    • Extensive free range animals in zone 3
    • Functions of animals in a permaculture system
    • Fodder trees
    • Birds in permaculture –useful birds, pest birds
    • Bird attracting plants
    • Other bird attractants
    • Feeding birds
  2. Role of Insects and Other Small Animals
    • Introduction
    • The ecosystem
    • Ecological concepts
    • Biomes and common wildlife
    • Insects in permaculture
    • Edible insects
    • Insect structure
    • Insect life cycle
    • Insect taxonomy or classification
    • Insect feeding habits
    • Vermicomposting –Earthworms
    • Snail farming
    • Pest insect control
    • Mechanical control
    • Cultural control
    • Biological control
    • Pollutants in the ecosystem
  3. Poultry
    • Introduction
    • Chickens
    • Turkeys
    • Ducks
    • Geese
    • Avoid buying sick birds
    • Helping hatchling chicks
    • Poultry products and uses –meat, eggs, etc
    • Quail and Duck eggs
    • Poultry forage
    • Mobile tractor systems
  4. Grazing Animals (Pigs, Sheep, Goats, Rabbits)
    • Introduction
    • Advantages and disadvantages of working off grass
    • Paddock size
    • Type of fencing
    • Post and rails
    • Hedging
    • Wire, barbed wire or electric fencing
    • Brick or stone walls
    • Banks and rises
    • Gates
    • Supply of water to animals
    • Supplying shelter
    • Pig Husbandry
    • Pig production systems
    • Buildings for pigs
    • Environmental control for pig production
    • Pig pens
    • Watering, feeding, overcrowding
    • Sheep husbandry
    • Uses for sheep – wool, meat, dairy
    • Sheep rearing and management system
    • Keeping goats
    • Keeping rabbits
  5. Bees
    • Equipment
    • Bee Management
    • Hives
    • Swarms
    • Honey Production
  6. Larger Livestock and Pest Animal Management
    • Introduction to larger animals
    • What animals –benefits and management
    • Beef cattle introduction
    • Choosing a beef breed
    • Dairy cattle for self sufficiency
    • Appropriate breeds
    • Dairy cattle husbandry –health, housing, managing the milk
    • Deer
    • Alpaccas and Llamas
    • Horses at grass on smaller properties
    • Horse health and husbandry
    • Wild animals
    • Wildlife management
    • Set task
    • Assignment
    • Aquaculture Production Systems
    • Introduction to aquaculture in permaculture systems
    • Pond size
    • Polyculture in a pond
    • Manures and fertilising ponds
    • Feeding fish
    • Mariculture
    • Advantages and disadvantages of aquaculture
    • Extensive production systems
    • Intensive production systems
    • Species to grow –fish and crustaceans
    • Simple biological filter system
    • Filter efficiency
    • Cleaning turbid water in dams
    • Protecting fish
    • Water requirements
    • Extensive production in dams
    • Intensive productions in pools and raceways
    • Cages
    • Harvesting fish
    • Seine Nets
    • Gill nets
    • Traps –funnel, flyke
  7. Aquaculture Species to Grow
    • Bass
    • Cod
    • Perch
    • Catfish
    • Blackfish
    • Barramundi
    • Red Claw
    • Yabby
    • Spiny Freshwater Crayfish
    • Trout (dealt with in more detail)
    • Growing Marron (dealt with in greater detail)


  • Develop your ability to integrate animals and insect into a complete permaculture design in ways that best utilise animal resources.
  • Understand the principles behind integration of animals in permaculture systems
  • Understand the role of insects and other small animals in permaculture systems
  • Understand the role of poultry and bees in the permaculture system
  • Develop knowledge of the role of grazing animals in permaculture systems
  • Understand the role of aquaculture production systems in permaculture
  • Develop knowledge of the range of aquaculture species available for permaculture systems

Animals will be part of any permaculture system, whether intentionally introduced; or occurring unintentionally .

A well designed permaculture system should always foresee all of the likely animals that might visit or dwell in the system; both unwelcome and welcome, both.




Bees occur all over the world. They are a critical part of the permaculture garden, both because they can provide honey, beeswax and other products; but also because they are critical to pollinating plants. Without bees, more than half of our fruits, vegetables and other food crops would not be productive.
To most people, a bee is thought of as something that lives in a hive, produces honey and can sting you. In reality this only describes some bees.
There are many thousands of different species, and most can be important to pollination. Most of the honey used by man though comes from only two species:

  •  The Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) and
  •   The Asian Honey Bee Apis cerana (also called the Oriental Honeybee)

There may be legal restrictions in some places that control the keeping of bees. Hives need to be registered in some jurisdictions. For example, all beehives in Australia need to be registered. Contact your local Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, or Primary Industries for details.  In the UK you do not need a license to keep bees but other restrictions do apply such as where you may keep bees, how close to your neighbours and mandatory notification of some pests and disease problems.

Where to Locate Hives
There are several factors to be considered:

  • Comfort of the bees: The hive should be sheltered from strong winds, face the morning sun, and preferably be in shade at midday. Hives should be as widely spaced as possible.  They should be raised off the ground by at least 45cm to avoid dampness. This also stops toads from jumping up and eating your bees - and these are one of their worst enemies, along with ants.
  • Safety of yourself and neighbours: Most people will suffer some localized swelling and itching if stung by a bee, but around 0.5% of people may be much more sensitive to bee venom. In extreme cases the reaction can involve faintness, difficulty breathing and at the extreme, a sting can be life threatening. Sometimes people who have not been previously over sensitive, can develop a significantly heightened allergenic response. If for any reason you or anyone around you may be particularly sensitive (e.g. if you are giving a demonstration of bee keeping to the general public), carry anti-histamine and /or an EpiPen (adrenaline injection) with you for use in any emergency.
  • There are some things that upset bees: Rough handling of hives, poor location, storms, end of honey flow, and excessive noise (e.g. lawnmowers).  Care should be taken when working your hives not to upset them if possible.  Avoid working with them when your neighbours are around. Remember that bees near roads and footpaths can sting passers-by.  They will sometimes even fly in the evening towards street lights and houses.
  • Water: At different times, bees need water.  Although they use very little water during a good honey flow, this need increases in hot weather.  If there is no water within half a mile of the site, it needs to be supplied otherwise bees may seek water from neighbouring properties e.g. swimming pools or leaking taps. Place corks, wood, bark or straw on the water's surface so the bees do not drown.  Do not site hives around dams or where mustering takes place - cattle can be flighty during mustering.
  • An ideal site has a hedge or fence at least 2m high between the hives and your neighbours or footpath. 

How Will You Benefit?

  • Follow your passion
  • Fast track business or employment opportunities in permaculture
  • Save money and time -no traveling to classes
  • Determine for yourself when, where and how long your study sessions are
  • Develop a deeper understanding of animals in a permaculture system
  • Make better decisions about management and care of land, water and air environments
  • Build networking connections in industry
  • Heighten your awareness and understanding of permaculture issues.
  • As a graduate, receive free career and business advice from our staff -yours for the asking.

Employment Opportunities

  • Permaculture Equipment Development, Supply or Marketing
  • Permaculture Consulting and Design
  • Environmental Management
  • Conservation and Recycling
  • Land rehabilitation
  • Conservation and environmental protection
  • Land Management -parks, residential, commercial
  • Permaculture Education -teaching, training
    Permaculture Research
Member of the Future Farmers Network

Member of the International Herb Association since 1988

UK Register of Learning Providers, UK PRN10000112

Member of the Permaculture Association

Member of Study Gold Coast

Recognised since 1999 by IARC

Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

Maggi Brown

Maggi is the classic UK "plantswoman". She can identify thousands of plants, and maintains her own homes and gardens in the Cotswolds (England), and near Beziers (in Southern France). Maggi is regarded as a leading organics expert across the UK, having w

Bob James (Horticulturist)

Bob has over 50 years of experience in horticulture across both production sectors (Crops and nursery) and amenity sectors of the industry.
He holds a Diploma in Agriculture and Degree in Horticulture from the University of Queensland; as well as a Maste

Diana Cole

Dip. Horticulture, BTEC Dip. Garden Design, Permaculture Design Certificate, B.A. (Hons)-Geography, Diploma Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development
Diana has been an enthusiastic volunteer with community garden and land conservation projects sinc

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