The Good life
10+ beneficial trees for livestock
Having animals without trees means you have only half an ecosystem. Trees provide shelter, food, and medicine, capture and recycle waste, and provide habitat for beneficial benefifififificial companions. These are trees your stock can benefit benefififififit from.
Cows like ryegrass and it makes them fat. I like chocolate and it makes me fat.
But I couldn’t live on chocolate all day, every day. I guess I would get sick of the taste, and my body needs a wider range of nutrients. So does a cow.
Fodder trees can provide a range of healthy additives to an animal’s diet and help to prevent intestinal worm burdens (anthelmintic). They also: • increase the feed produced on an area of land; • are a good source of supplementary feed in times of drought or winter shortage; • provide shade and shelter to increase a beast’s comfort, wellbeing and production; • stabilise the soil and recycle nutrients back to your pasture; • look good.
Quite frankly, every farm needs them.
Trees provide health benefits
That some trees are beneficial to an animal’s health is well known to many farmers. Science has yet to fully research all their effects and much information is anecdotal, but condensed tannins in trees (which is concentrated in the bark) have proven to have anthelmintic (deworming) effects. Some improve the protein uptake in the animal’s gut which has been shown to help livestock grow faster and resist infection and disease. Some plants cause the host animal to expel the parasites’ eggs, others prevent the parasite’s normal lifecycle, reducing the burden the animal has to carry.
Other trees can improve digestion, or help to prevent bloat or facial eczema. Some can have more general health benefits, like reducing arthritis. Other trees can repel flies and other pest insects from their immediate zone, making them great shade trees.
Trees turn your farm vertical
Grass takes up comparatively little depth and height. By layering your pasture with trees with roots the go below that of the grass, you capture nutrients that have leached down and turn them into leaves or fruit that stock can eat.
You don’t have to bother making hay. Simply cut branches when grass is in short supply, or let the leaves drop and compost into the soil.
You are producing a lot more feed in the same space and creating an easy secondary source of supplementary feed.
The bonuses: shade, shelter, stabilisation
Research has proven that dairy cows produce more milk if provided with shelter. Commonsense dictates that shade on hot days and shelter from cold winds and rain in cold weather will increase your animal’s happiness, health and wellbeing. When you put on some slippers and snuggle up to the fire this winter, think of your stock outside. If they are using up energy to stay warm, they’re not comfortable, and they’re not turning it into milk or meat either.
The least you can do is provide them with shelter, and trees do this cheaply and effectively. Meanwhile the trees also provide habitat for birds and beneficial insects which control pests in your pasture. Their roots are stabilising the soil from erosion, and they provide future sources of timber or firewood, aesthetics and bee food.
Our cows enjoy the prunings off all the fodder trees on our block.