Farmer cheats: Invader plants can be cheap feed

Here’s an idea on how to fix two problems at once. Use the plants invading your natural grazing for cheap animal feed!

An oldfashioned hammermill will do fine to get the material fine enough for animals to eat. Then mix it with molasses and mieliemeal to make it more palatable for your animals. A mixture farmers often use is 250kg of milled invasive plant material (make sure it’s a species animals can eat!), 80kg molasses and 50kg mieliemeal.

During the recent drought in Namibia, such feed from invasive plants saved many farmers when their grazing ran out, and was fed to cattle, sheep and goats. Farmers often add legume plants like thorn trees (acacias) to such mixtures as these plants contain a lot of protein.

Vaalbos (Tarchonanthus camphoratus) grows well in parts of North West and the Northern Cape, and while the plants aren’t bad for animals to browse on, it’s the soft new growth, which contains quite a lot of protein, that can be used in feed mixtures. Remember to always add a digestive treatment like Browse Plus ( V11013, Act 36 of 1947) to help animals digest the milled, woody parts of the feed, as they often contain unpalatable tannins.

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