or beet? or parsnip? or kohlrabi?
i ordered several root crop seeds for experimental animal feed. i estimate we'l be feeding 7 goats and 3 sheep this winter. those 10 will eat an average of 40 pounds per day. multiply that by 6 months (182 days) and that equals 7300 pounds. wow.
i don't expect to grow that much but you never know. the complete list of what i hope to grow (we'll be eating most of these too):
several winter squash varieties: pumpkins, buttercup, etc.
* marks those i will leave in the ground and cover for protection.
this year, i hope to rate their yield vs. weight and compare that list to what the animals prefer. then next year, i'll grow more of what they prefer. w/in 3 years, i hope to get them mostly off grain and onto root crops for winter feed (plus hay - see below).
i feel that i cannot truly be self sufficient with animals if i'm always needing to purchase our feed for the animals from outside sources. i don't want to be one of those 'homesteaders' who raise a whole menagerie of animals to be self sufficient and raise their own feed but yet still be dependent on others to feed their feed. did that make sense?
we have plenty of land that can be better utilized to accomplish this goal. we are taking over the back field that the farmer usually farms and turning it into a hay field. there are two types of hay i'm interested in: a mix of clover, vetch and alfalfa and a mix of oats and peas (grown together and harvested when oats start to turn). supposedly, the latter is good if you have poultry in with your goats/sheep as they will scratch and eat the oats that fall out of the hay. we hope to keep our turkeys in with them. we'll cut these with a mower on the tractor and then hand rake it and pile it loose in the shed. if need be, we have a sickle to cut it with.
i am very excited that we are approaching this goal. from day one of owning animals, i've wanted to be able to provide them their feed. the $20 worth of seeds i'm investing in will hopefully be a great start. i was just reading this morning how someone was growing 4 - 90' rows of parsnips and a few rows of carrots to feed their 2 cows during the winter. it's great to see others are attempting this as well.
i also am growing some black sunflower seeds. that started when i discovered several had sprouted from the goat bedding i had covered the potatoes with. they love these sunflower seeds and they are expensive. i hope to set up a small patch and see what my yield is. they will make a yummy treat and also a good supplement for the does in milk.
carla emery's country living book also has some great information on feeding animals in this manner. the whole 'what did people do before they could go to rural king and buy grain for their animals' aka the pre-cornfed diet.
has anyone else had any experience with this method of feeding livestock?
next, i'll be researching what to grow to feed the chickens during the winter.
in other news, the pesky rabbits have been taking out my cayenne pepper plants one at a time so greg fashioned me some mini pepper cages out of hardware mesh. they are dinky but hopefully will keep any more from disappearing (i've only got 3 left).