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Post by Sonshine on Tue Jun 16, 2009 12:28 am

Animal forage

On our farm where we run dairy cattle and goats on an open pasture we are faced with food shortages during the winter months when grasses are dormant or no longer meeting the nutritional needs of the animals. Consequently we have had to invest in either purchased feed or the energy and labor of cutting and storing grass hay. Recently we have begun exploring a number of perennial crops that hold the potential for extending the forage capacity of the bottomland pastures. Bamboo has become a prime candidate as a perennial forage species as it holds its foliage year round making dormant season harvest possible. Having a high protein content (12%-19%) it is comparable to alfalfa in nutritional value yet does not require the intensive cutting, drying, and storage process of an annual crop. Bamboo thrives in the rich, moist alluvial soils of the farm's bottomlands. We are therefore researching the feasibility of growing bamboo in proximity to grazing animals. Feeding can be managed by either cutting bamboo and "throwing it over the fence" or allowing animals to g raze in bamboo paddocks on short rotations. WSU is also experimenting with producing silage, a product of fermented foliage or biomass, from bamboo leaves. Silage is typically produced from grass hay and is a common strategy for providing a food source to grazing animals during seasons when pastures are dormant.

He who cultivates his land will have plenty of food,
but from idle pursuits a man has his fill of poverty
Proverbs 28:19[b]

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