Dec 11, 2013: Goats expert Anke Sieker answers a question about feed

Question: I am planning to plant more food for my goats in the garden next year – which ones are best to grow? Anke Sieker says: With rising feed costs most of us try to supplement our goats diet with homegrown stuff as much as possible. Older goat books have whole sections on what to grow in the “goat garden” – usually beds of kale, some red clover and alfalfa/Lucerne. Alas nowadays most small-scale goatkeepers often work away from the holding too, so gardening time is at a premium. Two of the best feedstuffs for goats that you can plant on your holding –are willow trees and comfrey. Willows grow easily and quickly from cuttings (taken in winter) and simply stuck into the ground. Comfrey root cuttings are available from several gardening suppliers. Neither of them requires any time-consuming maintenance throughout the year! Other than cutting regularly I just dump a wheelbarrow load of (goat!)muck onto the crowns of comfrey and around the willow trees in winter. My goats love willow branches as part of their daily branch ration during summer and even in winter will strip the bark and eat the softer upper ends. Comfrey – a plant with so many uses outside goatkeeping too – is a good high-protein supplement in spring when branches are still somewhat bare, and can be cut down at least twice during the summer. Just make sure to plant the non-spreading variety Bocking 14.

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