Permaculture forum: Growing perenial food for the future for animals and maybe people lol

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Sep 9, 2014 6:24 PM CST
Hi everyone. I'm new here. I have a question about perenial fodder for goats. Feeding my 15milk goats takes a large portion of my income and I would like to grow perennial fodder. I don't own a tractor and not strong enough to grow lots of space with corn or other grains. I would like food that can grow in zone 8 NC and that is perenial. I do grow grapes,apples and pears but goats need more than just fruit to thrive

thanks for any information.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
Sep 9, 2014 7:10 PM CST
Welcome to ATP!

Alfalfa is perennial, and I think there is some variety of alfalfa willing to grow in almost every climate.

I would look through a list of cover crops and pick ones that were perennial through whatever kind of winters you have, and suited to your climate and soil.

For example, some tolerate heavy clay and some tolerate hot summers. Some tolerate dryland. If you say more about your climate and soil or region, more people may be able to make suggestions.

I always think "ask the feed store clerk" for advice local to my area.

If you can buy small amounts of several seeds, divide your field into plots and try several different things the first year.

If your goats produce more milk than you drink, maybe you could swap milk for hay or grazing privileges (or seeds). Especially if your goats will eat things that someone else's chickens or cattle don't like.

Around here, one guy made a business of renting his goats out for weed clearing. If you trust someone with an overgrown yard NOT to have sprayed with herbicides and insecticides, he might let you graze your goats for free. Or ask a real estate agent trying to sell a yard that hasn't been maintained.

'Tyfon' Holland Greens are annual, not perennial, but they are cold-hardy down to 10 F and produce a lot of foliage. If you get yours to go to seed, you could re-plant from saved seeds. I mention it mainly because I like Brassicas, and this is a "salad, fodder or compost" plant.

BTW - what with the difficulty of weeding around perennials, I'm start8ng to think that annual flowers are LESS work than perennial flowers! But that's in poorly-managed small raised beds, not a whole field dedicated to one crop.

Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Sep 9, 2014 7:39 PM CST Admin

The one place alfalfa won't grow is in acidic soil, which is why it's never an option for us down here (alas). But in NC maybe the soil isn't so acidic.

I know many goat farmers who raise goats strictly on Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria) - it's a fast growing evergreen shrub that goats love. I had goats for a year and they did really well for me on a nearly exclusive diet of the stuff. I think planting some good herbs like comfrey, yarrow and the like would be an excellent idea, too.

Charter ATP Member
Sep 13, 2014 3:55 PM CST
I have had limited experience with goats --actually a goat. But what I learned from her is that goats need woody browse, not just perennial grasses. Sheep can manage on grass, but goats like shrubbery. Well they especially like roses, and there actually are some of the old taller roses that would help provide browse, but you would have to move them, and let the roses regrow. Holly would be good.

I had to return my goat to the woman who gave her to me as a present, because I ran out of browse and my goat tried to eat camellias and wisteria--both of which are poisonous to goats.

Good luck. If you can meet their needs and keep them healthy, goats are very rewarding. Actually they have a sense of humor about entertaining humans that you will come to appreciate.

I forgot to say: I am in Zone 8, Alabama. One thing my goat did like to eat that I liked to get rid of was privet.
[Last edited by hazelnut - Sep 16, 2014 7:17 PM (+)]
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