Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: tree hay / fodder  (Read 6417 times)

Scallywag

  • Joined Apr 2017
  • Retford
tree hay / fodder
« on: May 10, 2017, 07:11:15 pm »
Im looking at a project, planting some trees to provide winter tree fodder for
Cows and sheep. We would be looking to harvest and store green in tight faggots.
anyone have advice on which uk native trees would be suitable to use, or any other advice on the best ways to store. Any pearls of wisdom would be welcome.

Scallywag
Be careful what you scratch if you've been chopping chillies

Steph Hen

  • Joined Jul 2013
  • Angus Scotland.
Re: tree hay / fodder
« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2017, 01:34:10 am »
Here's  copy of an old post from a thread I started.
Found this and reproduced for anyone interested. Protein is good in some species.
Table of leaf nutrition. Percentage of constituents in tree species compared to hay and Red clover
water    ash    fat. sugar  protein     fiber
12.6   9.9    2.9   49.2     13.2   12.3  elm wych
11.9   5.9   6.5   50.4      9.9   15.4   Rowan
11.5   6.1   3.8   50.3     11.6   16.7.  Willow goat
10.8   8.5   6      43.5     13.3   20.9   Aspen
11.6   6.3    3      50.4       12   16.7   Ash
11.9   3.9   5.9   43.6      17.6   17.4.  Alder
11.7   3.9   7      49.2       12   16.2.   Birch
15.   5.42   2.2   44.43   8.51   24.56  grass with herbs and legumes.
15.7 5.17   1.88  36.76  10.98  28.56. Red clover.

Adapted from The Cultural Landscape: Past, Present, and Future, Birks et al, Cambridge University Press, 1988.

Gives an idea of nutrients. What scale are you proving for?
I just have two goats, pet wethers. They really enjoyed eating the leaves I'd stored for them: about a dozen large bundles of branches (as big as I could carry, so 6-8ft, 20kg ish) plus alder which I just cut and hung in the trees for them to browse on when we went for walks, plus 4 dumpy ton bags of beech hedge trimmings plus some twiggier bundles (10kg hedge trimmings).

They don't fully eat the large branches so they have to be removed/got trampled into bedding which was a bit annoying for cleaning out. Whereas leaves/twigs were fully eaten, so no tidying up, less bulky to store.
I won't bother storing big bits again, just twigs/leaves.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2017, 05:12:51 am by Steph Hen »

Scallywag

  • Joined Apr 2017
  • Retford
Re: tree hay / fodder
« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2017, 08:13:26 am »
Many thanks for the info Steph. Goes to show the real value of tree fodder.

We have several hundred sheep on several sites around the county, but we also have several woodland sites that could provide the fodder.

in particular we lamb around 200 ewes indoors in spring.

Im looking into whether we could use our resources better and also gain some insights into the subject as im hoping to buy my own smallholding in a couple of years time.

What time of year do you harvest?
Scallywag
Be careful what you scratch if you've been chopping chillies

Steph Hen

  • Joined Jul 2013
  • Angus Scotland.
Re: tree hay / fodder
« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2017, 06:53:17 pm »
All summer. From the first leaves. This year I plan to strip the leaves from the stands of willow and ash that have long straight growth. And want a petrol hedge trimmer, some tarps and ton bags to harvest some of our thick, mixed hedgerows.

At your scale I think you'd have to harvest and store whole branches. It's impressive how well the leaves store on the branches outside through the winter. So some I cut, inverted and hung in the tree by hooking a twig of the cut fodder over a branch. They stayed the whole winter.
Obvious, but of note: branches left on the floor went damp and rotted very quickly.

I researched this a fair bit last year. I watched one YouTube video about it last year (By a busty American homesteader as I remember?) which as particularly interesting, I'll see if I can find it for you. It seems tree hay was big in Europe 100+ years ago. All the villagers worked together in the woods in summer to harvest tree branches. They were stacked in huge, house size stooks, some with thatched or metal roofs to encourage water shed.

I read that if farmers fed their stock only tree hay all winter they cut parasitic worms life cycle.
It contains more minerals than grass hay.
Another benefit was that the nutrients of the forest were being brought onto the farmland, so over generations field soil fertility was improved.

For efficiency I think you'd need to be looking at copicing or pollarding some of your woodland so that it produces nice straight, easily cut, carried and stored growth. But any old branch is obviously edible, so you can use everything this winter and know that in future years harvest will be easier/more efficient.

It is hard to harvest/store in volume compared to hay though. I will need something like 15-20 dumpy builders bags to feed my goats next winter without any hay. It was not compressed at all; I was worried that compressing it would produce a bag of dust!




Scallywag

  • Joined Apr 2017
  • Retford
Re: tree hay / fodder
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2017, 07:53:28 am »
Hi Steph

We would have to start harvesting later in the year as we cannot disturb nesting birds.

I'm starting to realise that harvesting on the scale we would be looking for is going to be a lot of work, especially if we bundle and store in sheds. Luckily we may have access to some hard working volunteers. We currently coppice and pollard some areas of woodland.

We do produce hay, including some good, native meadow hay and have access to winter fodder beet. However some tree hay would definitely help. As you say it helps with worms as its high in tannins.

Storage wouldn't be a problem.

Do you have access to holly? Is this something you use for tree fodder?
Scallywag
Be careful what you scratch if you've been chopping chillies

Steph Hen

  • Joined Jul 2013
  • Angus Scotland.
Re: tree hay / fodder
« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2017, 04:38:13 pm »
My goats don't like holly.
On a large scale I'd def store it outside rather than bundled inside.
I harvested into September and these leaves still clung to the branches all winter.

The cut, invert, hang on an uncut branch was really quick and effective, as in they lasted there all winter. Much quicker than tying and stringing up. If I were storing branches I'd hang them like this, maybe on poles which could be pulled up into rafters? Or outside on some sort of rack.

I've had a look on images and YouTube but can't find the video I mentioned or photos of the old, European tree hay harvesting. Shame as it was cool!


YorkshireLass

  • Joined Mar 2010
  • Just when I thought I'd settled down...!
Re: tree hay / fodder
« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2017, 04:52:52 pm »
*following with interest*


If you do find it, link it here?


I wonder if I can influence future tree planting where I work...

Scallywag

  • Joined Apr 2017
  • Retford
Re: tree hay / fodder
« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2017, 05:19:31 pm »
I like the idea of hanging them upside down on rails or poles, sounds like less work.
Or maybe we should organise a faggot clamping competition :)

im told most animals wont eat holly from the lower branches, because of the thorny leaves, but will eat the upper branches, as they lose their thorns.

The sheds I was referring to are open sheds, so they should be ok for storage.

Hi Yorkshirelass, sometimes its about how you manage what you have as opposed to what you plant. Good coppicing or pollarding is often all thats needed, or maybe you can work with someone local that owns woodland.

People where I am, are starting to get very interested in the idea. "Thats a novel idea".... erm .... not really !!  Just an old idea many people have forgotten about.
Scallywag
Be careful what you scratch if you've been chopping chillies

YorkshireLass

  • Joined Mar 2010
  • Just when I thought I'd settled down...!
Re: tree hay / fodder
« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2017, 07:27:41 pm »
the powers-that-be want to plant some trees in the pasture for a "parkland" feel. I can always suggest suitable trees  :innocent:
Gathering and storing enough to make a difference in the diet is another matter entirely.
Does the book you mention (that had the tabled info) suggest how much you should allow per animal?

Steph Hen

  • Joined Jul 2013
  • Angus Scotland.
Re: tree hay / fodder
« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2017, 05:33:37 pm »
I don't think it said, but I got the impression that it made up a large proportion of the diet. I remember one source (why didn't I take proper referenced notes!?!) that said in olden days, especially on the continent, some livestock would only eat tree hay and no grass (this is what makes the significant reduction in parasitic worm burden).
I also remember reading that in years of poor or failed hay harvest, farmers would be forced to cut tree hay to bulk up any hay they managed to harvest.
Although not great evidence, it seems it can make up a fair chunk of the diet. I recon diversity of tree species is probably key.

For your parkland trees, or any one else planting trees, again, go with diversity. Round here (Angus) I wouldn't bother planting ash or birch as there's too much die back. Willow although obviously great for speedy growth isn't a fine park tree. Sycamore isn't the best for wildlife, oak is obviously a king park tree, but so slow. I'd go for beech, maybe horse chestnut, although not my favourite tree, it does grow fast and has a good shape.
I've got about half acre of woodland and gaps in hedges and tree lines to plant this winter and so far have 70 apple trees, monkey puzzles, beech, service tree, rosa rugosa, a few oaks, dog roses, flowering current and if they germinate; purple empress and giant redwoods! I plan to buy hazel to fill in gaps.

YorkshireLass

  • Joined Mar 2010
  • Just when I thought I'd settled down...!
Re: tree hay / fodder
« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2017, 05:57:43 pm »
Can I pop round in 50 years and see your baby redwoods?  :excited:


The Woodland Trust actually has some recent work on tree hay (obviously in their interests!). Case study involving a dairy farmer in Shropshire.


https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/publications/2015/10/trees-provide-fodder-boost-production/

http://www.agricology.co.uk/tree-hay-forgotten-fodder


https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/publications/2013/05/how-trees-benefit-dairy-farms/
« Last Edit: May 13, 2017, 06:00:12 pm by YorkshireLass »

Steph Hen

  • Joined Jul 2013
  • Angus Scotland.
Re: tree hay / fodder
« Reply #11 on: May 13, 2017, 06:10:58 pm »
I watched the ted green you tube video earlier and he said they did better tying it into tight bundles (faggots), but he didn't say why, just that any farmer will tell you that hay needs to be bundled tightly. ..? This suggests it's to do with quality rather than storage/handling. But I preferred loose because it's faster.

Scallywag

  • Joined Apr 2017
  • Retford
Re: tree hay / fodder
« Reply #12 on: May 13, 2017, 06:31:34 pm »
Tying the faggots tightly may help to keep moisture out, as is the case with grass / meadow hay.
Scallywag
Be careful what you scratch if you've been chopping chillies

Scallywag

  • Joined Apr 2017
  • Retford
Re: tree hay / fodder
« Reply #13 on: May 13, 2017, 06:51:09 pm »
I would echo Steph's comments about the diversity of trees you plant and keep them to native species.

if you have livestock in the parkland, then the trees will need good protection for a few years until established
Scallywag
Be careful what you scratch if you've been chopping chillies

hywellewis

  • Joined Aug 2017
Re: tree hay / fodder
« Reply #14 on: August 29, 2017, 11:37:56 am »
Just stumbled across this thread, sorry I'm late to the party!

I cut a whole load of leaf hay in July to experiment feeding to the cattle come winter. I have a friend who is VERY keen on pollarding and knows Ted Green, so we went to his woods and cut branches from 8 different species, bundled them tight like faggots/fascines and stored them in the cow barn, leaning them upright to dry. They dried out within ten days, and tended to stay lovely and green rather than going brown. When dry we piled them flat. They smell amazing!
The species cut were: grey alder, wych elm, oak, hazel, birch, sycamore, grey willow and field maple.
I run a small suckler herd up in the Pennines (around 1000ft), and am very keen to plant more trees in and around the pasture for shelter, which may as well get pollarded from time to time. I am certainly convinced that they will be very good for cow health.
The cattle already love holly in the winter when I can get it. They prefer it to their grass hay.
I have the Woodland Trust involved, so hopefully they will help with the planting.
It's great to know that a few other people are experimenting with this - it would be great to hear more about your experiences!

 

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