We just recently moved to a new property in western Oregon and have our two dairy cows munching away on the overgrown grass. I want to investigate growing alternate foods that the cows eat in addition to just grass. Things that will produce foods in winter would be a huge plus. These would be certain trees and shrubs I'm guessing. My knowledge of these are lacking but I've seen some videos (of permaculture farms in Britain) that implied that they got a good portion of cattlefeed from specially grown hedge rows for that purpose. The videos were all shot in mid summer so it was hard to tell whether they had plants that fed the cows in winter.
I'd appreciate any links or information regarding food plants for cows. Or if anyone has cows here and is doing this kind of thing.
I don't know much about shrubs and bushes for winter feed, but if you stockpile your grass properly you can graze all year long. We sold grass fat cattle in mid January this last year. They ate only good stockpiled grass and were supplemented with mid quality grass/alfalfa hay.
You may also look into growing some annual grasses that mature in the fall to provide high quality standing feed through the winter. Unless it gets knocked down flat and covered in snow, millet and other large annual grasses can provide fantastic feed. Strip grazing will enhance forage utilization.
Anibal Pordomingo is a big supporter of using a forage chain for finishing cattle in the winter, the same concepts could be applied in your case. Here's a pretty good article explaining the concept:
What you can fatten cattle and what you can feed lactating milk cows are not the same thing--not if you care about how the milk tastes.
We would grow turnips, mangles, pumpkins, etc. for feedstock but can't feed the turnips to the milk cows.
We cut hay early in some of our pasture, then leave it to regrow for fall/winter pasturing. It isn't as good as intensive grazing, but the best I can do until I can get water to every paddock. Overseeding fall annuals
I do not know of an evergreen that cattle will eat, but I am not in your zone.
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Did you find anything? I live in western Oregon too so I'm interested in whether you found something to work or not. The only thing I've found that really keeps growing through the winter is the grass and that's pretty slow. Also, with the rain it's hard to keep the ground in good shape, though having little cows has helped with that. They nibble the blackberries and the ferns, but not enough to call it feed, more a supplement.
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