Buying in all the feed for animals is expensive and unnecessary if you have the space to grow crops. Roots crops are particularly useful as animal feed as they are high in nutrients and are easy to store either in the ground or a storehouse. Give only fresh vegetables to animals as cooking reduces their vitamin and mineral content.
All types of poultry including chickens, ducks, geese and quail require a varied diet that includes seeds and vegetable matter. Soft leafy vegetables such as lettuce, broccoli, cabbage and kale can be given whole for the birds to peck at. Hard vegetables such as turnips, carrots and swede are better chopped into beak-sized pieces to prevent the birds from choking themselves. Provide the birds with poultry grit to aid their digestion of the vegetable matter.
During the winter months, when grass is no longer growing, cattle need their feed to be supplemented. Hay is the most common feed supplement but smallholders often choose to grow their own root crops instead. Mangold are a type of large beet that farmers believe increases the milk yield of dairy cattle. Mangold harvested in the autumn months should not be fed to the cattle until late January, as until they have matured they are slightly poisonous. Kale is a high protein vegetable crop that can be fed to cattle at any time of year. The plants themselves are hardy and can withstand even harsh winter conditions.The kale can either be fed as a fresh produce or can be stored in bales and used as silage.
Pigs are voracious creatures and will eat any vegetable matter they are given. Fodder beet is grown especially for pigs; it is a root vegetable similar to a turnip but is much higher in protein, which the animals require for good growth. Raw carrots also are an excellent root vegetable to feed to pigs when they are being fattened for the table. Carrots must not be damaged during harvesting as this can attract the carrot fly, which will destroy the rest of the crop. To prevent this, move the pigs to the crop using a temporary electric fence; they will dig up the carrots and the smell of pigs will confuse the carrot fly.
Goats and Sheep
During the winter months, sheep and goats benefit from being penned on to the remains of crops that were grown either for other animals or for the kitchen. Root vegetables such as carrots, turnips, swedes and green vegetables like cabbage and sprouts are grown as a feed supplement for pregnant females that are being kept indoors.
- Chickens: Esther Verhoeff and Ard Rijs; 2003
- The New Complete Book of Self-sufficiency; John Seymore; 2003
- Limagrain: Devon Farmers Make The Most of Kale
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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