Fodder, Livestock, Urban Homesteading and Self-Reliance

Weeds for Feed – Dandelion (Fodder Plants #6)

dandelion(Taraxacum officinale)

Nearly everyone is familiar with the green rosette and friendly yellow flowers of the dandelion, but not everyone realizes they are amazing feed for your rabbits, chickens, and goats.  These tough, determined perennials can be found everywhere, snuggling compactly in lawns and growing luxuriantly along roadsides and in hedgerows.  One real advantage of feeding dandelions is they stay green year round in many parts of the country, providing fresh green feed when everything else is dead and brown.

Dandelion has several nutritional benefits.  The leaves have high chlorophyll and beta-carotene contents throughout the growing season.  As anyone with a yard can tell you, they grow easily from seed (spread liberally in their silken parachutes) or root cuttings.  What you might not know is that root sugar contents are high, usually approx. 11%, and the roots can be stored all winter in moist sand to use for feed in harsher climates where the plant itself doesn’t stay green.  dandelion-2

The real heavyweight of the dandelion’s nutrition team is protein content.  Crude protein content of the leaves ranges from 15.5% to 22.2%.  Most animals find dandelion leaves highly palatable and will eagerly clean up everything you provide.  Dandelion can easily be cut and dried for winter storage and these hardy plants with their extensive root systems don’t mind being harvested multiple times.  As with any wild-crafted plant, make sure you are harvesting from areas that have not been sprayed with herbicides or pesticides.

 

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4 Comments

  1. Hi there! This post could not be written any better!
    Reading through this post reminds me of my previous room mate!
    He always kept talking about this. I will forward this
    article to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read.
    Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  2. Tommie Hockett

    Howdy form North Texas!
    I also have a small farm, we raise boer Goats and TAMUK rabbits. We also do vermiculture with redwigglers and black soldier flys. I will have chickens come spring time. Anyway I am looking at setting up a fodder system and I am looking at all the different things I could sprout. I was curious if there is a place that you could buy bulk dandelion seeds?

    Reply
    1. Nice to hear from you! Sounds like you’re a busy homesteader. I have two TAMUK rabbits, a doe and buck. The doe should have her first litter, crossed with one of my Champagne bucks, next week. I’m pretty excited to see what the cross is like.

      I’m not sure that dandelion would sprout and grow quickly enough to do well for Fodder, but I did find 10000 seed (not really sure how many that actually is) on eBay for $15. If you have kids, you may be able to bribe them to run around each afternoon and strip the seed heads from the wild dandelion growing everywhere – assuming you have them.

      I’m actually starting to phase out growing Fodder in a system, switching to sprouting in covered, ventilated containers. I won’t get the waving green grass mat, but that isn’t what makes Fodder nutritious anyway, and most of my animals prefer the root mat and leave the green. If I can get it to the 1″ shoot stage, that should be ideal. I’m thinking that it will be less trouble, non-electric (we’re working on going off-grid), and hopefully less trouble with mold. I’ll post my experiment results and keep everyone updated on any issues I have as the season changes.

      Reply

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