We have an area of self seeded willow coppice that i could use for this in the future, when we get some livestock of our own.
Photos of a tree hay harvest - not much detailed info
Article on the use of tree hay - photo of an ancient tree harvested for fodder
forum discussion on tree hay
While this info is all interesting, there seems to be very little detailed information on application of these ideas:
How much hay do you need?
How much tree hay equates to a bale of ordinary hay?
Does the hay need special handling or storage - ie a barn for storing until winter
What can be done to make the process efficient - tools, handling methods etc...?
Any info or personal experiences welcome!
I've chopped kudzu and dried it out all the way to kudzu hay. Makes a good supplement to the chicken's feed.
Also, i forgot to mention... nitrogen fixing trees would be really good to use here. I could imagine intercropping a row of n-fixers with other crops. When you shred the stems from the tree some of the roots die back, adding nitrogen to the soil.
because there's a fair amount of inedible wood left in the mix and it wasn't ever compressed like a bail of hay would be, it took up a lot more space than a comparable amount of grass or alfalfa hay. the goats were pretty darn fond of it, though.
in the future, I would like to shred the black locusts twice each year. once earlier in the summer after the trees are completely leafed out, then once more toward the end of summer while it's still warm and dry enough to dry the leaves. black locust is a vigorous enough tree that it ought to handle the abuse just fine, and I'm sure the sea berries nearby would appreciate getting more sun.
Julia Winter wrote:I did this on a very small scale for our pet bunny. She LOVES apple branches, so when I pruned the trees of water sprouts in summer, I stashed them in a dry spot. The leaves dried but were still somewhat green, and she ate them happily, then gnawed at the yummy apple bark.
Julia - good idea simply collecting prunings that are made day to day around the place. Not much additional work, provided that you have things set up well. Some kind of rack with a roof, probably adjacent to where you were going to be doing reasonable amount of regular pruning would do the trick. My guess is you wouldn't replace much quantity of hay that way, but you would be providing a more varied diet.
My goats eat dried alder leaves all the time. Why not just rake up some leaves?
if you have abundant feed at those times of years i cant see why it couldn't be cut and bailed, after a few years it does grow a decent trunk but a vertical knife assembly should do fine..
But seems to tick all the boxes you have suggested , not knowing your location makes it a little difficult , although this plant grows practically anywhere
Also the Bottle tree family (Brachychiton) is used in a similar manner , though i feel would be too labor intensive and couldn't be stored easily but are green year round here ..
I suppose you could use dried leaves in the winter, but hay bales would work better I think.