Our mature trees provide tons of food each year! We regularly prune our lucerne trees, especially during the growing season, to maintain the trees at 1-metre tall grazing height. All the pruned branches are brought into the shed for chipping.
We chip our branches while still green to provide maximum mass of green, wet feed. The thicker branches are still tender and pass through the chipper easily and, when fed wet, is still soft and very palatable.
We use a Tandem 13.5 HP Chipper or Titon Pro 14 HP petrol mulcher which quickly processes lucerne tree branches into a delicious fibre-rich feed.
We pour the chipped food into feed bags. It is wet and smells like candy! If left closed in bags for a few days, the chipped food will ferment into steaming kuilvoor. Alternatively, the chipped food can be left open on the floor to dry and will store perfectly as dried feed. The dried feed can lose up to 50% of its mass.
Chipped lucerne tree feed can be mixed to provide an exceptional complete calving/ lambing/ or finishing food.
Here’s our supplementary feed mix recipe:
- 10% crushed mealies
- 10% molasses
- 5% feed lime
- 5% coarse salt
Our cattle and sheep absolutely LOVE this chipped lucerne tree feed.
We use chipped food for our dairy milk cow ~
Advantages of chipping lucerne trees ~
- ALL the cuttings are used as food. Nothing is wasted!
- The soft, wet chipped lucerne tree branches are high in nutrient value and dietary fibre.
- Food is stored and banked for use during severe weather such as prolonged days of freezing winter rains.
- Year-round food when our seasonal grazing is still growing in the early stages or slowing at the end of the season.
- Nutrient-rich supplementary food for cows and ewes in milk feeding their young.
- Supplement feed for finishing calves or lambs.
- Excellent food for dairy milk cows – increases their milk yield.
- Pruning trees help to correct the shape, strengthen the branches and stimulate new growth on trees.
- Pruned trees are kept at optimal grazing height.
- Sturdy pruned branches are resistant to grazing damage.
Estimates of food tonnage per tree ~
- You can chip your pruned branches within the first few months, and quadruple your feed in comparison to when animals graze directly off the trees.
- 4-year-old trees will give a minimum of 50 kg of wet chipped fodder per annum.
- One staff member can prune close to 450 kg of wet material per day.
- 1 hectare of 4-year-old trees with about 1250 trees (see planting calculations) can deliver in excess of 62 tonnes of wet material per annum if your trees are not grazed and consistent in size.
- When you allow your animals to graze directly off the trees, you will average in a region of 30 tonnes of wet material per hectare/ per annum.
This is year-round, drought-resistant, lush, nutritious food which gets better and better every year!
Here are our posts on chipping ~
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Copyright © 2012 by Myles & Nadene Esterhuizen
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