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caged hedges for winter feed

 
Jennifer Smith
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Hello again all. My goats have taken over and I am now a meat goat producer. Oh boy.
I, like most of us am looking to keep costs down while keeping my goats healthy. Feed is biggest cost, winter feed to be exact. I have an idea to build cages and plant stuff inside for goats to eat. Think topiary or hedges. What to plant?
Would this be cost effective? The cages, thinking wire livestock panels, are pricey but should last my lifetime.
I have a few tiny multiflora rose plants left that were the size of s small car that now could be contained in a rabbit cage size cage now. I plan to start with these, and any other good plants left. But for my hedges, what to plant that will grow and have leaves thru the winter?
Thanks for any suggestions
 
Michael Cox
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Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Jennifer - we have had quite a few threads on here about making "goat hay". Basically cutting fresh summer branches with leaves, drying them off the ground and then feeding them to goats in winter. This used to be a common practice in rural areas. I think the amount of food you are likely to get per permanent cage might be cost probibitive, but an area left ungrazed and cut for fodder in the summer could be quite effective.

Alternatively, how about goring hedges on the outside of your fencelines, or double fenced so the hedge grows between two rows of fencing. In winter you can let the goats browse for themselves from a long narrow strip of hedge?
 
Jennifer Smith
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Thanks for the reply Michael. The double fence is kind of what I am talking about for the hedges, as there is no inside or outside just different pastures. What is left of briers in pastures is what I was thinking of caging. I already have wire livestock panels around my fruit trees even though they are in the theoreticaly goat free front yard. These have to also protect from horses. We still have some horses but way way more goats.
We feed alfalfa hay in the winter but am looking for a more serve yourself future.
Thanks again and I hope to hear more.
Jennifer
 
Michael Cox
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Jay Grace
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Cultivate or at least encourage privet to grow. Down here in zone 8 Alabama it keeps a majority of it's leaves year round.

I imagine a standing grove of goat height privet you can run the goats through much like a hay field for cows.
 
Jennifer Smith
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I am envisioning hedges splitting my pastures instead of just plain woven/electric wire.
I guess no one is doing this. Is that cuz it is just another of what hubby calls my crazy ideas? Or is there merit to it?
 
Jay Grace
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It was very common practice in European countries before modern times.
Look up " how to lay a hedgerow" or " living fence"
There are a few topics on this here on the forums.
Google the pictures for living fence. That should show what i believe you are wanting.
 
sam na
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I have also had the cage idea.

I'd try pollarding mulberry. It has one of the best protien contents for tree leaves, google will confirm..
 
Jennifer Smith
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Mulberry is great and easy to propagate. I now have several bush size/shape now. I really need more winter feed. Horses like mulberry too.
 
Cj Sloane
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Not sure where you are exactly (consider adding your location to your profile). Evergreens should be part of your mix because it'll give them something fresh to eat during winter and it has been shown to reduce parasite loads.

Every now and then I cut a few branches to throw in with the sheep and cows for the 2 reasons stated above.
 
Jennifer Smith
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Ideas of stuff that stays green thru the winter is just what I am looking for. We are zone 6, southern Missouri.
 
Cj Sloane
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I guess you want evergreen shrubs but I can't give you any specific varieties.

I planted some bamboo last year and it has stayed surprisingly green though right now it's buried under snow. Get the clumping kind. It's a great livestock fodder.
 
sam na
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Cj Verde wrote:I guess you want evergreen shrubs but I can't give you any specific varieties.

I planted some bamboo last year and it has stayed surprisingly green though right now it's buried under snow. Get the clumping kind. It's a great livestock fodder.


Traditionally in the UK we used to use Gorse as a winter forage: Lot's of bashing it on stones involved. You could get the same effect with a garden shredder a lot more easily I'd imagine.

"With nearly half the protein content of oats, gorse provides a valuable fodder without the ploughing and aftercare required by a grain crop. It was used as a fodder crop traditionally in many areas (notably Wales and Ireland). It was usually ground between stones to a moss like consistency for feeding to cattle. Processing for horse was much simpler and involved basic devices to snap the gorse up and there is an example of an early machine at St. Fagans. It does not seem to have been used much for sheep although they will browse it in hard winters; in fact, local lore relates the hardness of the winter to the pin pricks of blood around a sheep's mouth resulting from gorse's spines." http://www.konsk.co.uk/resource/my%20writing/gorse.htm
 
Jennifer Smith
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Bamboo is a great idea! I figure the more "fast growing and may be invasive" a plant is the better for my purpose. Thanks for the suggestion
 
Cj Sloane
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Jennifer Smith wrote:Bamboo is a great idea! I figure the more "fast growing and may be invasive" a plant is the better for my purpose. Thanks for the suggestion


Well then you want the running kind!
 
Dale Hodgins
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If you're growing coppice wood for firewood, this could be cut in the winter as it's needed for goat feed. Anything smaller than your thumb goes to the goats.

If this wood were placed in a manger,  where the goats couldn't spread it all over the farm,  you would end up with better firewood and goat feed from the same product. I've seen goats strip all of the bark off of 6 inch diameter firewood. Debarked wood dries quickly.
 
Jennifer Smith
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We are a long way from self sustainable yet. We bring in lots and lots of inputs like hay (both grass and alfalfa) fire wood and wood shavings.
I am working on lowering this but will not eliminate it. I like fresh shavings in my barn to keep the smell down, then I really like it from the barn into the gardens and orchards.
I am looking for serve yourself winter goat feed to lower both my costs and manhours.
 
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