Pruning lucerne trees for cattle & sheep feed

In this Lucerne Tree Farm YouTube video, Myles describes how he prunes his mature lucerne trees for cattle and sheep feed.

Pruning lucerne trees for cattle and sheep feed

Most of these trees are about 6 years old and have been planted along fence lines and in rows in camps. Lucerne trees are exceptionally fast-growing, reaching 6m height in 4 to 6 years. Lucerne trees are highly nutritious, with similar nutrient values to normal alfalfa ground lucerne, but without the danger of bloat. You can read about lucerne trees on our website ~ Lucerne Tree Information

In this video you will see how much food one lucerne tree yields after just 15 minutes of aggressive pruning. Pruning always stimulates the lucerne tree to produce new, vigorous growth, develop thick, sturdy branches and trunk, as well as to maintain the trees shape. If farmers wish to have their animals graze directly off the lucerne trees, then they will need to prune their trees to 1.5m height regularly. These pruned branches are placed in a cattle feed “ring” where the cattle or sheep strip off all the leaves, leaving bare branches. (These dried branches make exceptional fire kindling.)

One mature lucerne tree yields about 50kg of fresh cuttings on each pruning which will feed about 8 cattle in a day. These pruned trees take between 3 to 5 months to recover their full growth, especially if irrigated or during the rain season, ready to be pruned again. Because lucerne trees are evergreen, they provide fresh, nutritious feed year-round. All our information on pruning is here ~ Prune Trees

Myles also mentions another fodder tree called Leucaena. This is also a legume tree with rather thin, spindly stems which can be browsed right down to the ground and will sprout out numerous branches again and again.

We supply hand-picked lucerne tree seeds in packs of 100’s or 1000’s shipped around the world (where international postal shipping Covid restrictions have reopened). We also courier young lucerne trees either in potting bags or in tube-packs (depending on our stocks available) to South African clients. Please pop over to our Orders page to fill in the contact form to place your order.

Happy Farming!

Spring saplings growing strong

Our spring lucerne tree seedlings in their bags are growing beautifully as the spring temperatures warm.

We currently have stocks of lucerne trees in bags that are between 15cm – 30 cm tall and they will be ready to plant out once they reach about 40cm tall in a month or so’s time. We also have stocks of trees in tube-packs for lighter courier costs.

You can see how tender and spindly these little saplings are. If you plant your trees when they are too small and young, they will be eaten as a quick little snack by any passing browser. Shelter your trees to grow to size and only plant them when they are taller and stronger. Protect your young trees from any animals for at least their first 18-months with good fencing and/or shade cloth. Please read all about how to plant your trees and what to put into the holes here – Planting Trees.

Also, you can nip the growth tips off these saplings to stimulate side-branching and prolific leaf development. Wait about 2 weeks after planting them out to “take” and settle, and then snip off the tips of each sapling. You’ll be amazed at how quickly they will flourish with new leaves and branches.

Order your trees now while stocks last. Unfortunately we may not export trees across international borders, but you can order seeds instead.

Happy Farming!

Nip your seeds before soaking

Lucerne trees seeds have extremely hard seed coats and require a process called scarification to help them prepare for germination. What is scarification?

Scarification in botany involves weakening, opening, or otherwise altering the coat of a seed to encourage germination. Scarification is often done mechanically, thermally, and chemically. The seeds of many plant species are often impervious to water and gases, thus preventing or delaying germination. 


We have proven success with a 2-fold process = NIP and then SOAK.

We use nail-clippers to nip a tiny piece off the top of each seed. Just snip off a tiny sliver of the seed coat and try not to cut too deep into the seed. Especially do NOT cut the creamy, light brown bit at the bottom of the seed. This is where the seed germ will emerge with the roots and first 2 little leaves. If this part is damaged, usually the seed will not germinate.

Yes, this is a time-consuming process, but we recommend that you germinate your seeds in batches and not try to do them all at once. Alternatively, you can nip them in small batches over a few days, storing them sealed and kept in a dry, cool, dark place and then soak them all together to begin the actual germination process. Once the seed coat has been nipped, it is vulnerable, whereas untreated seeds can be safely stored as described for several years.

Next comes the soaking process. We have done trials regularly and can see the huge difference between seeds that were nipped and then soaked and those that are only soaked. Please do not cook your seeds by using boiling water! Hot tap water is good, but boiling water may kill the seed germ.

Wait for the soil temperatures to rise before starting your germination process. When the soil is too cold, your seeds will remain dormant in the ground. You could start germination earlier if you germinate your seeds indoors in trays under grow lights for warmth.

We want you to have real success in your germination process. You can read and download our germination process and step-by-step instructions on our Seeds page. We provide these instructions with your seeds when you order. Place your order today by filling out the contact form on our Orders page.

Happy Farming!

10 month old Lucerne trees

These trees which were established in January are showing excellent growth at 10 months!


They have not yet been grazed, but have been pruned twice to maintain 1m height and encourage lateral growth.  Pruning encourages the tree to bush and prevents the tree from growing too tall and spindly for your livestock to utilize.

Happy Farming!

Roots – your most important growth factor!

Many new lucerne tree farmers plant their seeds into shallow seed trays, but if you look at the following photos, you will realize that the roots are more aggressive in their growth than the leaves.

12 b

In fact, those green leaves and shoots you see sprouting out of the soil is an indication of the depth of soil needed for the roots.

12 c

This lucerne tree has an incredible tap root and side root structure. These seeds need deep 30cm trays or crates filled with coarse river sand.

Prune the growth tips of your small trees to encourage side branching when your tree reaches about 15cm.  You’ll soon notice new buds develop all along the stem!

Remember that you do not add any fertilizer to your potting soil.

When you plant out your seedlings, never pull the tree up out of the soil. This strips and damages the roots, especially the fine root hairs. Most transplanted trees with this type of damage do not survive. Rather scoop deep under the little trees and lay the seedlings on their sides loosely, and gently separate each seedling. Using a nice deep stick or dibber, make a suitably wide deep hole in the potting bag soil and gently ease the roots straight down into the hole. Gently firm the soil around your seedling and water.

When you plant out your potted trees, try to preserve most the soil around the roots and make a suitable deep hole in the ground.  Fill the hole with water before placing your tree into the hole. Fill and gently firm the soil around the base.

Happy farming!

Four month old Trees

Myles and Zahn have been busy this summer!

Here are 5 hectares of 4-month-old Lucerne trees.


They were planted under drip irrigation in January 2013 and are doing very well.


Happy Farming!

After Grazing

After Grazing

We shared how our 100 ewes enjoyed 4 days on the half hectare of 8-month-old lucerne trees.

This is the “Before” ~


And here is the “After” ~


In just 50 days, these bare branches will be full of soft, fresh new leaves and ready for grazing!

These trees bounce back!

It is truly a fabulous year-round food!

Happy Farming!

New Lucerne Field 8 Months Later

Here are the Lucerne trees planted out in early spring August last year.

Lucerne trees bottom field April13

Just 8 months later they are ready for grazing.

Irrigated with dripper lines and pruned to 1m encourage lateral branches,

these trees have flourished.

Scroll down to  August 23, 2012 to see how the trees looked when they were planted.

Happy Farming!

New Names? Same Tree!

There are no new varieties of Tagasaste or Tree Lucerne that require different growing conditions or which will give better yields because of the different types.

The same tree lucerne under different circumstances, ie: irrigation, climate, soil, pruning or grazing will appear differently, but the nutritional properties will remain the same.

Clients often ask whether we have the “Cattle” type or the “Sheep” type tree. The “Sheep” type refers to a hybrid called “Weeping Tagasaste” which is a smaller, shrub-like version of the Tree Lucerne.  It does not carry the same yields, and we do not stock this type of tree or seed.

Furthermore, clients recently enquire about the latest names ~  “Cattle Candy“, “Kalahari Green“, and “Kilimanjaro” tree lucerne.  These are newly created trade names used by an aggressive marketing campaign, but are all the same thing ~ Tree Lucerne!

Don’t allow yourself to be mis-informed or persuaded to think that you’ll get better yields or better adaptability by planting any of these new trade names.

They are simply the same tree!

Planting out Lucerne Trees

We’re busy planting out thousands of lucerne trees in new lands ~

Pop over to our planting trees page to view the details.

Have you ordered your seeds and trees for spring?

Happy Farming!