Tuesday, March 17, 2015


Having ruminants means having to feed ruminants. Having to feed them, especially cows, means having to buy in a lot of hay. I'd prefer my cows, goats, and alpacas eat fresh pasture because if they were wild, that's what they'd do, but let's face it, this is Tucson, this is a desert.

Over the years I've been testing different ways to get pasture to grow. My challenges are doing so with minimal to no irrigation, and finding fodder crops that will tolerate this harsh climate. I've spread different types of pasture seeds all about, sowed fodder beets, fodder corn, alfalfa, and fodder vetch so far. This photo is the vetch. And it's growing everywhere now. The pods are quick to develop so my hope is that it will reseed and that the ruminants will like it and eat it.

Our "pasture" if you can even call it that, consists mainly of wild things like pigweed (wild amaranth) and wild arugula, Malva, and various grasses. The cows really go for the grasses, mowing them off on their walkabouts so the grasses grow in fuller. They do enjoy the wild arugula which is insanely prosperous right now. I had hoped for better with the alfalfa, but it has grown in well next to a garden bed and thickens when it comes back each year, reseeding itself.

This is the first year for fodder corn, and I'm trying Trucker's White, an heirloom variety. They're about 4 inches tall at the moment. Good sign. All parts of the corn plant are edible, and I know my cows like the leaves.

We have substantially less animals than in the past, so feed is not as crazy a cost as it used to be and I'm finding, when the weather cooperates and waters the land, there is so much food available that all I need to do is let the cows at it and they get filled up and happy. Creative solutions and supplements have been the annual surplus of Christmas Trees from tree lots and the tree recycling drop off in town as well as loose hay from the feedstores that often would end up in the garbage because it's not easy to sell. Most people in my area have horses, not cattle and cattle will eat varieties of hay with no complaints.

If you have any fodder seed suggestions that may work in our area, please feel free to comment below.


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