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browse vs. Graze for goats

 
Leah Sattler
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Goats are naturally browsers. They prefer leafy vegetation over grass..but...I have personally seen how quickly they can devastate large areas of browse that will not recover, and seen in comparison how they can repeatedly graze down pasture and it will fully recover quickly. In making my future plans I am torn between the effeciency of grass forage over the health benefits for the goats of browse. Can I really develop a herd (genetically) that can tolerate the higher parasite load inevitable in a grazing situation? (which is far more sustainable) Would it be worth it to utilize much more acreage to maintain a sustainable browse situation? what are your thoughts on this?
 
paul wheaton
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Where goats wipe out an area - that's a sign of too many goats and/or too little space.  I think the best thing to do is to have four or more paddocks.    The goats spend a week in a paddock and then move to the next paddock.  The first paddock then gets several weeks to recover (preferably at least 30 days - but that might require more paddocks). 
 
Leah Sattler
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yes, I agree rotational grazing is key and you should never let your livestock completly eat down your grass or defoliate all the brush (unless your intention is to use them to "clean out" an area). but my observations lead me to believe that if you have grass paddocks they could be about 1/4 the size or less of browse paddocks to be able to maintain the same stocking rate. For instance 5 goats on 1/2 acre of bermuda grass for 3 months will never get it eaten all down. 5 goats on 1/2 acre of browse such as ivy, brush and honey suckle will have it eaten all down in a week. The forested and brushy areas harbor more diversity of plant and animal life, result in far less parasitsm and often better quality forage but the acreage requirement is many times that of what is neccessary for stocking pasture. Grass thrives when it is cut/eaten, browse often dies or is at least set way back if it is defoliated. I would like to find....

avg. lbs of TDN yearly yield  (total digestable nutrients) per acre of bermuda pasture vs. an (avg.) north american browse acre which is probably impossible....

even more impossible would be to determine whether the loss from parasitism and slightly lower quality of forage on grass is worth the reduced expense and resultant reduced impact on the enviroment than lower stocking rates in a larger area. 

the near impossibility of acheiving those figures leaves me to collecting anecdotal evidence from like minded producers regarding the browse vs. graze issue for goats.





 
Kelda Miller
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in creating forage for goats, either in paddocks or along fence edge (with leaves hanging over) or best would be to have both methods combined, what are some favorite forage for goats?

I read today that honey locust and mulberry are much loved by goats. What else?
 
Leah Sattler
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they love....
blackberry
creeping jenny
poison ivy
honeysuckle
willow
this list goes on!

They are often used to control invasive species. I have been told they are being used to clear the under growth in some areas to reduce the fire danger. (something of course that would have been naturally taken care of if people didn't have the misconception that all forest fire is bad)
 
Kelda Miller
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I think I'll try some buddleia (butterfly bushes) for the goats tomorrow. The neighbors are complaining that they want to cut theirs down....

Before I do so, does anyone know any adverse effects this may have?

Or with goats, is it pretty safe to say that they just won't eat it, if it's poisonous to them?

(or maybe Nothing is poisonous to them, heck they'll eat poison ivy!)
 
Leah Sattler
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here is a good list of poisonous plants. http://fiascofarm.com/goats/poisonousplants.htm I have never  heard anything about buddleia being toxic and it is not listed on there so i think it would be ok. as for whether they will know not to eat toxic stuff or not I would say probably but don't count on it especially if you are bringing the food to them. in a situation where they have lots of browse or grass free choice they likely won't eat the bad stuff but I know from personal experience that when you are providing some or all of their food  or they are accustomed to getting treats they seem to make the assumption that what you have is good/extra yummy and or they are so worried that "someone else" might get the good stuff that mommy is bringing that they will gobble it down just for spite. that is the best way  to get them to try a new food. Have others that thinks its delicious and make them compete for it. I had some that had never had alfalfa pellets before and wouldn't touch them. until I got them accustomed to fighting for grain and then switched to alfalfa pellets. they were so worried that the others were going to get it all they didn't miss a beat when I switched and gobbled up the alfafla just like the others.
 
Susan Monroe
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Do you know what variety of Buddleia your neighbor has?  Is it the common B. davidii or one of the others?

There is an English site that just barely mentions that "Some varieties are also toxic to cattle", but that's all it says.

An alpaca site says it is 'potentially dangerous'.  Other places use it as forage.  So, could this just be in the amount?

Several sites agree that the Chinese Butterfly Bush, Buddleia lindleyana, is toxic to livestock, but the common B. davidii is also from China, so...    A British article goes through its characteristics, but doesn't make any reference to toxicity: http://members.lycos.co.uk/WoodyPlantEcology/docs/web-bud.htm

Okay, a definite stance:  " According to the Sunset Western Garden Book (1995), this species in not listed as poisonous."
http://waynesword.palomar.edu/ecoph41.htm

I've read about people who 'rent' out their goats to clean up patches of blackberry vines and other nuisance plants.  Some posts, a solar charger, some electric fencing or netting, and you're in business?

Sue


 
Kelda Miller
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It's davidii, and look, I got lazy and didn't even feed it to them yet. But its not like it's an exactly Lush plant this time of year.

and OMG, Leah, that is So like goats. If I hand it to one of them they start bopping each other and what not, and eat whatever without thinking. That's a big consideration.
 
Leah Sattler
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when it comes to food competition goats lose any and all instincts! I get annoyed sometimes when I am trying to work in the goat area and i reach in my pocket for a screw or put some hardware in a container to prevent their loss, one of the goats will notice and think its food and of course then all the rest have to come over to try and fight for the "food" aka nails/screws and they will just be absolutely sure that I am hiding food. no matter how many times I let them check out the bucket or my pockets they refuse to believe that it is not food and continue to attempt to raid them. so here I am trying to screw a board back down or fix the fence and I have this herd of goats that is surrounding me fighting and pushing and spilling my bucket of hardware and chewing on my clothes.....ugh. sometimes I just have to go back inside and wait for a while or pick up a stick and start swinging and screaming like a mad woman. 
 
Susan Monroe
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I guess that's why goats have the reputation they do!

Sue
 
Kelda Miller
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It's funny, I was looking at the above list for a design project I'm working on. Can't really say I want to plan many of those except the honeysuckle. This is for a food forest.

Of course they like apples, pears, plums, too. And probably wouldn't turn down elderberry. I'm trying to think of plants that humans like a lot too.
 
Leah Sattler
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careful with anything within the prunus family. their leaves produce a cyanide like substance when wilted. they are fine if eaten right off the tree or are crunchy dry. but don't cut any and throw them over the fence to your goats!
 
Susan Monroe
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They like blackberry vines, stickers and all.  So do donkeys.  WHY, I don't know.

Sue, who can't walk within 15 feet of a blackberry vine without it jumping out and grabbing her...
 
Leah Sattler
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those thorns can be vicious. you certainly pay in blood for blackberries!
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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If your primary concern with grazing vs. browsing is worms, have you looked into growing and compounding your own herbal wormer for the goats?  I'd really like to find a recipe for doing that -- I'm using ivermectin horse wormer most of the time now (we don't have a heavy worm problem in any case, as we are in the high desert with slightly alkaline soil, and my goats are mostly confined because we only have one acre of land), but would prefer to switch to the herbal wormers (to one that's actually effective).

Kathleen
 
Leah Sattler
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I can find lespedeza hay for sale here but it is pricier than the normal prairie or bermuda. it is supposed to be fabulous for suppressing internal parasites. now that my goats are on browse almost exclusivily I am not as worried about the parasites.

freeholder- you might consider switching to cydectin. it has less potential to harm dung beetles. there are many herbal wormers on the market. some of them may work to help suppress parasite activity over time just like grazing lespedeza. but in my opinion you would have a tough time finding anything adequate for treating acute infections. it is far better to prevent reinfection through managment of course as I am sure you know.  it appears that breeding for resistance is promising prudent and effective also. here is a blip about it in sheep.
http://www.sare.org/reporting/report_viewer.asp?pn=FNC07-689&ry=2008&rf=0

at my old house there was a ton of artemesia growing in a feild nearby. I did my own little experiment. doing several fecals then cutting down a whole bunch of artemesia and and feeding it to the goats. I saw no obvious change in fecal egg amounts (although I don't have a mcmaster slide for super accurate results). 
 
paul wheaton
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Any of you ever tried salatin's approach to worming?  I did it that way for years.

 
Leah Sattler
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tell me more!

I use the FAMANCHA method primarily now. it has always correlated so well with egg amount in the fecals that I really trust it. It helps prevent or slow down the ability of the parasites to develop resistance by only worming the goats that need it but it is something that can be determined in the feild which is great because who has time to fecal all their goats every few weeks!!??
 
paul wheaton
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Leah Sattler wrote:
tell me more!


It sounds crazy, but salatin is all about being way beyond organic and really does his research, so it ends up being one of those things I don't understand and just follow in his footsteps.

Once a month, all water for all animals has basic-h (a surfactant) put in it. 

And, there are loads of stories all over the net of animals near death from parasites and loaded to the gills with all sorts of parasite meds and then this is tried and they are cured.



 
Leah Sattler
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chickens are great for scattering poop so that larvae ends up dehydrated and dies. from my understanding infective larvae of the barber pole (problematic worm in goats) worm are much too small for even chickens to see and eat. but I can't find anything stateing the size of barber pole larvae. 

I have heard of the basic h thing. I was afraid to try it because I had difficulty understanding how it doesn't give them the runs or doesnt' affect the flora of the gut.  or maybe thats how it works!

 
paul wheaton
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I have read all of salatin's books except for "everything i do is illegal".  I bought that book from salatin when he was in town a couple of years ago and have browsed it several times and am about 20 pages into it.  I've read so many of his articles, I have a pretty good idea what the book is gonna say.

As for basic-h ....  my guess as to how it works is that since it is a surfactant, then I wonder if the liquids in the gut hold less oxygen for a day.  The animal gets oxygen from its lungs.  The digestive tract parasites would get oxygen from the stuff in the digestive tract.  If the digestive tract would not be able to hold oxygen for a day, then I wonder if the parasites would suffocate.



 
paul wheaton
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Different parasites have different missions.  And I have to emphasize my previous qualifiers:  I have no idea what the basic-H does;  I only have specifications;  I choose to go this path with faith in joel salatin and knowledge of his dedication to things far, far beyond organic.

 
Leah Sattler
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Bytesmiths wrote:
Not to doubt you, and I have no basis for saying this, but don't intestinal parasites attach to the intestinal wall and suck blood? Now there's a source of oxygen!

I can't imagine how, except for the ruminant's gathering of material, eating contents of the bowels is a net energy gain over simply eating the green material before it gets in the bowels. But perhaps I simply lack imagination...


all the troublesome parasites in goats.......mainly the barber pole worm......suck blood. most chemical wormers interfere with their metabolism somehow. there might be something to the basic h thing. I'm not one to run on faith alone though except for maybe some things that have very little potential to do damage. barber pole worms can kill a vulnerable goat within days of the onset of obvious symptoms so.......

I am really annoyed with my goats right now. they have access to 24 acres. I had them in a smallish area (1acre?) by the house that had a gate open to the back woodsy/brushy area of the property. every day 3 times a day they went out, pigged out on the brush and came back to cud like clockwork. now I put them in the biggish area (3 acres?) with the new and better shelter with a back gate open to the brushy woodsy area. a large portion of the time they are staying and grazing close to the ground on the crappy, can't-really-be called-pasture  nearest the house! so much for them knowing what is good for them.! dummies! or at the very least not being so lazy they can't walk an extra 50 yards to go out the gate and eat the good stuff! might have something to do with it being 100* now though. I dunno. I don't want to go far from my house either when its this hot!
 
Leah Sattler
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it probably does have alot to do with the miserable heat. our ponies got out yesterday and wandered to go visit their freinds just on the other side of the fence on the farthest corner of the property. I swear I was ready to pass out by the time I stomped through all the brush and dragged their butts back home. aaaahhhh 60 and rainy....... can I have some? its so sad to go out there and see all the goats panting and panting. they look awful to, they just don't eat well in this heat. I have one poor doe due july 28, I wasn't sure till I felt babies yesterday. poor thing. its gonna bee 105 by then.
 
rose macaskie
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  Here in spain they are herded all day in mixed herds with sheep and if they eat trees they are called off them after a short while, the bushes and trees many of htem seem t survive while the pasture gets eaten right down.
  i try to put in some black thorn sloes that have been eaten that why their branches change direction so but not done for.
endrina.jpg
[Thumbnail for endrina.jpg]
 
paul wheaton
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Leah Sattler
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no rotational grazing now. I am hoping to avoid the need for it by keepings stocking rates extremely low and discouraging actual grazing and pushing browse. now that I have convinced them to go back out to browse they are back to not grazing much at all. I think it was the oppressive heat. They just didn't want to go far from the shade. It is back down in the 90's now and they are faithfully walking out and browsing 3x per day. not eating anywhere close to the ground. they haven't even made a dent in the vegetation in the back acreage! I am down to 5 full size adults and the rest kids except for 3 pygmys (one of which isn't even mine...but he has decided to live here so he counts I guess). 3 kids are in a drylot situation. obnoxious buggers won't respect the hot wire. they need to get a little bigger so they can't go under it with out slowing down before I'll try letting them out again.
 
paul wheaton
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I think the rotational stuff will do a lot to control parasites.
 
rose macaskie
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   Mijo is the staple diet of people in some parts of Africa.
   I wanted to send a few more photos of pruned evergreen oaks to back up my statement that they prune them, you can see how short one storeyed they are. Cutting prunnings for goats is one way of feeding goats that  means the tree does not get over browsed.
 The first is of a encina among lots of encinas kept as bushes, chaparras. Of course, if you don't accompany your goats as shepherds do here, they may eat these bushes down too far. The second is of a recently beheaded, desmochado, encina, the branches are beging to grow back on the main arms, they will prune these branches so that the tree grows well, these trees are like fruit trees, pruned to increase their crop of acorns, that fatten their sheep, cows, pigs etc., and the prunnings will go to the cattle.

   The book that talks of this most is the Antonio Sanchez Belda's book written for the, Ministerio de agricultura, pesca y alimentacion, "Razas Bovinas Españolas". spanish bovine races. You pass through the chapter on each race untill you get to the bit called, exploitation, and then go to the bit on alimentation and there, if it says ramon de encina, they eat evergreen oak leaf, and if it says ramon de acebuche it is of olive or wild olive. Some races are not marked as appropiate for this sort of farming, as liking tender pastures. I have the 1984 edition and the newer edition.

 The most incredible page on the diet of a cow is the canary cow. They are given, all parts of banana plants, bananas are a principle crop in the canary islands. The book says, the desiquilibrated composition of these residuse, very especially as concerns their mineral content, on top of their reduced protein content and low energy, produce frequente digestive problems that the cows bare without great complicacions aand maintaining a good coat. They are also given the residues of the tomatoe, sweet corn, cucumber, pepper, potatoes, boniato, clavel, production, green or dry. Meal cereals are only rarely given to them, only when they have digestive complications and other sorts of feed and hays, never.

 There is also book of races of sheep too, "Razas Ganaderas Españoles Ovinos". by C. Esteban Munoz. In Spain you use your fathers surname in first place and your mothers in second. It also has interesting lists of feeds for Canary sheep. Cut up banana plants in the Canaries, cut up cactus, pitas, and prikley pears, i don't know what their latin name is , cut up bits of vine called panpana that is a feed you can grow where summers are dry.

    I think the list of feeds for different races are more or less interesting according to how honest the expert of the region is. Some don't give much information and seem to be pretending to be modern though they are talking of sheep that live in an enormouse area and a depressed one and such as the merinos who occupy the west and south west of spain and it is hard to believe they don't eat the traditional feeds in these areas.
   The maellano sheep eat  left overs from horticultural growing that is normal in some parts of Spain, the  leaves of olive trees, the left overs from the olive presses the leaf and shells of almonds and stubble.
  The Rasa Aragonesa eats and i am quoting, time, rosemary, lavender,and esparto which is an incredibly tough sort of grass that they use as soles for those rope soled canvase shoes . It is a very dry country grass and here it says the exploitacion of the esparta is left totally in the hands of the sheep, they are missing out the part people cut their hands to pieces on  to turn into shoes. in valleys and fertile places they eat subproducts of the things grown there, the neck and leaves of the beet and the stubblegleanings of grain husks and stalks . and any weeds.
   For the mallorquino, the trees are fundamental the almond the fig the olive the carob bean tree. here the list of the food given to the sheep is extensive. The account goes, "the sheep eats the fallen leaves of the almond and the shell of the nut of almonds", (this habit of eating fallen leaves helps desertificacion, the leaves in the countryside where i have a house, usually all disappear, and the sheep spend the night in the stables so that not all there manure ends upon the feilds. The fallen leaves they eat don't return to the feild they came from). They eat figs, "Figs untill now have been an important part of their diet, unfortunately their use is declining. The beans of carob tree, the branch of olives,the leaf of vines which is called panpana when feed to the live stock. Other plants that come with in the margen of browsable are el lentisco, pistacia lentisco, rosemary and heather and cistus".
 The alcarreña eats gorse, lavender, esparto,  and alfaalfa, the ursu uva,, a sort of cranberry that hugs rocks in an attractive way,and oaks the evergreen and the faginea,
  The segureño, that lives on very dry pastures of andalucia, eat sabina, the juniperus thurifera and other junipers as well as gorse time etc.
I am getting tired, I don't ilke writting and looking up details in the book all at once. I found on in one chapter that they recomending the stubble, leftovers, of crops of leguminosos . Another mencions their race of sheep eating broom.  

  IF, Leah, your land is dry, if you plant an encina or a olive every so often you will have the shade fruit and branch, ramon. Rama means branch. They, horses, sheep, cows and goats, don't eat the branch, they eat the leaves off the branch you cut for them, leaving the branch to bury as huggleculture I suppose.
Sheep are the least given of live stock to eating branch to browsing they normally eat whats on the ground.
   Here one reason for overgrazing is to allow other plants to grow without to much competition from  grass, like the plantains, plantago mayor or menor, thatb they eat plantagos is just an idea of mine.  there seem to be so many of them  in pasture land here, that are maybe better for the sheep than grass. According to a british scientist Roland Ennos, grass is full of silicie, glass, it wears down live stocks teeth, Roland Ennos supposes that grass fills itself full of glass to protect itself from herbivores. I will try to take my book of sheep and such and get myself to transalate the tender plants they mencion as being part of the diet of sheep.
    If the clover dies down with you in summer, leaving a mulch of dry clover, maybe that would make it easier  to plant a winter cereal in autumn.
     Susan Monroe or Brenda Groth talked about planting an autumn cereal in the thread on cover crops. I don't remember, are winter cereals oats and rye.
 I have heard of smashing up gorse and feeding it to sheep or just giving it straight to goats, i suppose from ireland. Gorse grows here where its also hot as it is with you.
 this is sure to be a mess but i can't stand doing anymore correcting.
 
 
rose macaskie
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Reading the books on Spanish races of cows or sheep in order to give an accoutn the food eaten by different races of Spanish sheep, has made me think that live stock around here often seems to be around in a marginal sort of role, keeping peoples hunting land a bit clean or eating the stubble and prunings of tree exploitation for fire wood wood or for olives.
  Some races are described as being specially good for dry places because they store enough fat to outlive the season of less food. the guirra sheep which is of African Moroccan origin climbs trees like a goat to eat leaves.
  I have a photo of sheep these are Colmenar sheep, Colmenar is village that is close to Madrid, eating stubble or the few dry sticks of grass or weed sticks that grew on the fallow land. rose macaskie.
sheep in stubble 2.jpg
[Thumbnail for sheep in stubble 2.jpg]
 
Leah Sattler
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those are some cool looking cows!
 
rose macaskie
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The belted Galloway are lovely but the farmer next to my fathers house had them and they remind me of all the hope and effort i put into maintaining relations with my own family I was not enjoying relations with those i knew in Spain, i just like the conversation of those who are like those i new as a child, I was used to it and it seemed fun to me. My efforts ended really badly and how badly my own family despised me, I don't want to look at belted Galloway's now.
    It is not normal for people to have them as far as i know, this farmer was proud of having an unusual breed, they are certainly hard to forget. rose macaskie.
 
rose macaskie
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I have said that sheep and goats, even  probably some of the breeds of cattle here in Spain eat time, as in the herb time, and here is a photo in which time figures though you can't see them very well, at the edge of the plough at the foot of the trees are bushes of time. I have a photo of a hillside covered in lavender and it is easily recognizable but i have to scan it, i will post it later.
    The moment the land is on a slope it becomes pasture land, at least sylvo pastoral land here, at least in traditional farming, In these livestock parts of Spain, where growing wheat is only for the villagers use or they only grow cereals for the live stock the real farming activities in these parts is live stock and the production of wood.
      Before the sabina albares, juniperus thurifera, produced all the beams and columns of the houses and other constructions. It is a very hard wood and according to Juan Oría de la Rueda they have found enormous beams of this wood still in very good condition in roman bridges when they where restoring them.  Juniper was the iron of the old constructions.
    The sheep apparently eat the leaves of sabinas albares especially ones that have sweet leaves, at least some races do according to Juan Oría.
      Farms “dehesas” that have sabinas on them are sheep farms while the farms with evergreen oaks encinas on them are dedicated to cows and horses and pigs. The sabina albar is a tree that grows on the top of mountains another reason for dedicating the land where it is grown to sheep and goat farming. The trees also provide shade for the animals. 
    Really it is an interesting tree it grows at a height of between 1,500m and 3,150m in the alto atlas in Morocco, higher than pines and higher than the cedar atlanticus, also natural to that country that also grows at a higher altitude than pines do. Jesús Charco “El Bosques Mediterráneo en el Norte de África, Biodiversidad y lucha contra la desertificacion”.  So it bares high solar radiation, hot dry summers and long cold winters in bad soils, a hardy tree.    Apparently the juniper indicus does the same in more easterly regions.
A good tree to combat desertification at high altitudes. rose macaskie.


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rose macaskie
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  I wrote on this page, in this forum a list of things that according to the book on spanish races of sheep and another on cows  that talks of their aptitudes that they ate lavender. I have a Photo of Spanish hill covered in lavender in case anyone doubts that lavender grows with great abundance here. the woods were i go are full of lavender bushes.
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rose macaskie
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  Here is an individual lavender bush of the feild full o f them. You can really see that it is lavender and you can see how poor the soil is by the size of these bushes. I have a bush in my garden and it is much healthier and it isnot in very rich earth there either. and untill recently it was no twatered now i have put some plants relatively near it and they get some water.
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Leah Sattler
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wow! thats alot of lavender! I am trying hard to neglect my new lavender plant that my husbands grandmother gave me this past weekend  (I killed the last one with kindness) I will use that pic as inspiration to NOT water it when get the urge
 
Leah Sattler
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so far it is still in the pot it arrived in. its sounds like it will be perfect for here. hot dry in the summer. cool wetter in the winter. I suppose where ever I put it needs to drain well so that spring rains don't drown it.
 
Gwen Lynn
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It's been my experience with drought tolerant plants (in general) that they require different care while still in a pot, v.s. newly planted, v.s. established. Many gardening books will list a plant as "drought tolerant when established".

I have let drought tolerant plants dry out completely in a pot and it's killed them or I didn't water them well enough before they got established and they died. I've never tried to grow lavender, and it sounds to me like it will rot quickly if you overwater it, but...it probably needs a little supplemental water until it gets established in the ground.

It probably doesn't like extremes either. Bone dry in the pot on a hot day? Don't give it a lot of water all at once. Just a little. Most plants will shut down when it's in the high 90's or over 100. In other words, they don't take up the water during the extreme heat. Unfortunately, I've found a wilted plant on a very hot day & thought, oops, I need to water you! I water it, it doesn't use the water normally, and the rot process begins.

Another issue is if you let it get really dry in the pot, and then it gets really wet (from a rainstorm) while still in the pot, that will also be problematic. The amount of foliage on the plant affects how much water it will use. Drought tolerant plants (in pots) should be planted in light soil that really drains well. A quick google and I found a suggestion to water lavender plants (in containers) from the bottom instead of the top. Many plants do better this way. It sounds to me like a terra cotta pot would be better for a rot prone plant, than a plastic one would be. I realize you'll be planting it in the ground eventually. Keeping it alive until then is the trick!
 
Leah Sattler
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excellent tips! thanks. I think I will do the bottom water thing that makes sense. this was a large plant that was dug up and potted so I am not sure if it counts as 'established' or not I was actaully thinking of keeping it in the pot today. I have dug up several plants I put in a potted them. the soil is so impossible here they would surely have croaked (and almost did) several coral bells that were about on there last leg, and a scabiosa that although was surviving was not happy. I see now why the front of the house is planted with almost nothing but ivy and boxwoods. Idon't want to put them waaay down at the garden so maybe I will keep them potted so I can enjoy them on the porch.
 
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