The Good life

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Contents - WORDS SH­ERYN CLOTH­IER

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.

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