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Woodchips for possible animal feed

 
gardener
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I thought this was such an interesting use of woodchips from one of the most interesting couples.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL3_dJayH6e6jKzTRJey5RXY-iYPHbXsPW[/youtube]
 
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My experience is that any horse that eats wood in any way or form has some combination of personality disorder and diet deficiency. Without any personal scientific proof what-so-ever, I believe that the folks in the video claim that wood chips are nutritious and healthy to consume is very far off base. To me the whole thing seems like a very bad idea and I would not be the least surprised with their horses became very sick. We have all the same animals on our farm as the video people do. In my experience and reading, horses are the only animal who will eat themselves to death. Horses need proper good feed in the right quantities. It's simply a very poor plan to try to go cheap. I think what they are doing is verging on animal abuse. ~~~But hey, other than all that, interesting idea. If you don't kill or injure your horse.

P.S. It occurs to me that humans have been generating wood chips and sawdust for thousands of years. If wood chips made a good feed, we would have been feeding it a long time ago.
 
pollinator
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I agree with Jim. My rabbit eats wood, cardboard, paper, and anything else she can chew to keep her incisors both sharp and at a manageable size. She swallows it all, but I don't imagine it offers any food value

Which is not to say that woodchips can't be used to generate food for livestock. A friend of mine kept woodchips in a hopper made of pallets as tall as her tractor would load, and she kept it damp when the weather was dry.

The chickens loved that action. She would hit the hopper with a shovel or whatever tool was handy, or an old fence post, and dozens to hundreds of many-legged morsels would drop out of the chips.

-CK
 
pollinator
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When my sheep start going for anything wood related, I know they are looking for more minerals. It is not the wood that they are after, but the minerals in the wood that are up-taken. Therefore it would be silly for meto give them minerals, when I can just give them minerals free-choice.

I am all for doing things differently, in fact I fed a horse silage all one winter which they said could not be done. He thrived, but feeding a horse wood, would be like feeding a beaver hay!
 
master pollinator
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I wouldn't feed woodchips, but small, green branches can be utilised by cattle.  In the book Man, Cattle, Veld, the author (sorry, I can't remember his name and the book's packed away, but it's Johann something) talks about cattle browsing trees and that they are supplemented with polyethylene glycol to ameliorate the effects of the tree tannins.  

Here's a link to a study using poly glycol in the Mediterranean Effects of Polyethylene Glycol on Trees with Tannin

I've also read, though I can't remember where, that trees will increase their tannin levels when surrounding trees signal that they are being browsed.  Some ranchers pulse their cattle through the trees, only leaving them in one spot for 24 hours, then moving them before the tannin response can happen.  This way they avoid the high tannin levels and don't use the poly glycol.

Personally, I can't see ever using the poly glycol, but Walter Jeffries has said that his pigs will munch on young brush, and Travis' comment is spot on, so I wouldn't rule out using young brush as a supplement.  I wouldn't try wood chips, though, unless it's chipped brush.

I can't recommend Man, Cattle, Veld enough.  It's got fantastic info on rotational grazing, grass quality and especially helpful info on genetics, breeding and hybrid vigor.
 
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