Fodder, Livestock, Urban Homesteading and Self-Reliance

Weeds for Feed – Mulberry (Fodder Plants #1)

Red Mulberry(Morus rubra)

While hydroponic Fodder is a great way to provide healthy green feed for your animals all year, there are many other plants that work as fodder during the growing season.  In the next few posts I’m going to introduce you to a some of these.  My criteria for these plants is that they are perennial or annuals that don’t require planting every year and provide a lot of nutrition in a small space.

The mulberry tree is a great fodder plant.  Here in the Ozarks it is so prevalent as to be considered a weed.  Many a windshield is splattered with purple bird droppings during the fruiting season.  Yet for our purposes it is not the fruit, but the leaves and twigs we want.

Mulberry leaves and small twigs are highly palatable to most livestock.  With a protein content up to 28% and 70% digestibility, they really pack a nutritional wallop.  Because mulberries are perennials with deep root systems, they also have a high mineral content.

I have several wild mulberry trees that have established themselves in the back hedgerow and along the street, compliments of the birds who spread mulberry seeds in those purple splats.  I’ve found that by coppicing them (cutting them off close to the ground) they provide me lots of feed for very little effort.  After being cut, the trees push up a multitude of shoots that grow very quickly.  I simply cut the entire twig and feed it to my goats and rabbits.  These trees seem to thrive on this treatment and provide happily all summer.

I do stop cutting in early September to allow the tree to regain some strength before winter.  However; I’m not sure this is really necessary as the trees I mow down in my lawn don’t seem to be the least bit discouraged.


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