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Monday, April 7, 2008

Comfrey!

One of the goals this summer season is to stop having to go the durn feed store so often....raising corn prices (ethanol) is causing havoc with the price of feed.



So, over the last winter, we have been researching food we can grow here on the property to use to feed the animals. We've got laying hens, and of course the 3 Little Pigs, and later we will have meat birds.



For the meat birds the best we will manage is to offset some of the feed cost. The broilers need a high protein feed (21% or so)....don't think we will be able to manage it. Plus, it's harder to get meat birds to forage or eat stuff that Isn't pelleted....they are pretty lazy and don't want to have to move very far to get to their feed source or water.



We forgive them for this, as we want them to grow as quickly as possible...they arrive here as chicks and they'll be done in 8 weeks, maybe 9 from start to finish.



However, for the layers we can easily offset some of the pelleted feed costs. We grow many veggies in our big garden to load off onto the hens. I'd make a list, but it really includes almost Anything you could grow in the veggie garden.



Exceptions would be the leaves or stems from rhubarb, tomatoes and potatoes....these shouldn't be fed to anything at all, cuz they are poisonous....some people won't even put them on their compost! We do, tho....



Last year I noticed a big patch of this growing wild on the property.....it's comfrey. This picture came from www.comfreycentral.com


And apparently, we can easily feed it to our chickens! I posted a question about it over at homesteadingtoday and here's what I learned:


Chickenista let me know "Comfrey is very nutritious and high, high, high in protein.You can cut and feed freely and the plant will regrow throughout the season.. let it get good and high at the end of the season and cut it low and hang the bunches from the rafters as hay for the winter.Comfrey likes a rich soil if it can get it.. so if you can spray some compost tea or manure tea on the patch.. all the better."


Sweet! And it's good feed for pigs too...alright! Here's a few more links on comfrey, if you want to learn more:


http://www.motherearthnews.com/Modern-Homesteading/1974-05-01/Comfrey-for-the-Homestead.aspx?page=8

http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/AFCM/comfrey.html

www.comfreycentral.com


Now, although we have it growing wild here, I have only found it in one place....and that place is dangerously close to our road leading to the barn....and I have a hubby with an excavator...makes me nervous! I don't want him running over the wild comfrey.


So, this year I am going to dig some up and make a dedicated comfrey bed, well out of the way of his machine's tracks.....Because comfrey is a Very Vigourous plant, I will have to be diligent to not let it get out of hand....


I'm going to put the bed somewhere between the house and the barn, that way as we walk down to feed the animals, we can cut a whack of comfrey to throw in for them....


Free feed, ya gotta love it! And if the growth is good, we can even cut some for use during the winter....








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