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wild forage harvesting

 
Andrew Brunning
Posts: 23
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its been a drought year, hay crops at 50%
but where there is water and open areas amound the forest
lots of grasses grow
has anyone succesfully gone out with a scythe and collected hay for their cattle or other livestock to feed during winter?
one question is .. whats the best way to figure out if your animals will eat this stuff and if its healthy for them.
i suppose testing it on them and identifying it is a place to start, is there a resource available with i.d. and pictures relating to specific animals and wild grasses that specifically grow closer to waters edge. thanks
 
Ray Moses
Posts: 74
Location: Brighton, Michigan
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Andrew Brunning wrote:its been a drought year, hay crops at 50%
but where there is water and open areas amound the forest
lots of grasses grow
has anyone succesfully gone out with a scythe and collected hay for their cattle or other livestock to feed during winter?
one question is .. whats the best way to figure out if your animals will eat this stuff and if its healthy for them.
i suppose testing it on them and identifying it is a place to start, is there a resource available with i.d. and pictures relating to specific animals and wild grasses that specifically grow closer to waters edge. thanks

I don'tknow  where you are but I am in Southeast Michigan and yes, our hay crops are down 50%. Most of what grows in and near a swamp in my area is reed canarygrass - which is palatable when young but when mature gets alkyloids at high content and they don't eat it. Then you have phragmites that they will eat when young. Then you also have sedges  that grow in woods and wetlands, they have angled/edged stems and are not actually grasses and again, not very palatable for cattle or not at all. I have gone out in the spring and cut green grass for one animal at a time, like a bull that was penned up or something like that , that I wanted to have some green hay for some weight gain, but in  no way can you harvest very much hay for the cattle that way unless you get reall serious about it. A bale of hay is very compressed and bascially a small square bale of hay is almost a whole pick up load of loose hay. On that note, the last year we had a drought around here was 2012 and I baled literally anything I could put strings around and the brood cows did just fine all winter. I baled alot of weedy fields that had goldenrod, milkweed, dogbane and all sorts of stuff.
 
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