|FODDER TREES IN TEMPERATE CLIMATE. by, Marc Bonfils.
Tree leaves are generally far richer in dry matter, nitrogenous matter & particularly oligo-elements than grass or lucerne, but their high lignine* & astringent properties make them less digestible'.
N.B.* : The bacteria contained in the stomachs of ruminants mainly feed on cellulose.
The exceptional richness of fodder leaves from the better species compensates partially or even completely for their lack of digestibility:
indeed, these leaves can contain as much as 0,35 F.U. per Kg of green matter & 18 to 20 % of nitrogenous matter & which gives a nutritional value of of complete nitrogenous proteins almost twice as high as clover or lucerne... lucerne proteins & even more so those of clover are however much better reabsorbed by cattle than than those of tree leaves.
Although the nutritional value & digestibility of tree leaves varies with different species some species give fodder of high nutritional value which is particularly appreciated by cattle, for example elm, mulberry & elder which furnish the best leaf forage in our latitudes. Similarly carob trees in mediterranean regions, ash, Robinia false acacia & European marine gorse also give forage of excellent quality. Robinia false acacia leaves have a nutritional value comparable with dehydrated lucerne flour... And the flowers are an excellent nutritional product for humans. Finally Robinia f.a. improves sandy acidic soils rapidly. This is partly because of nitrogenous enrichment due to the presence of fixative bacteria, & partly because it's deep roots bring chalk up from the sub-soil after dissolution of the bedrock & there by increases the Ph. In fact it's ashes can contain up to 75%chalk.
THE EUROPEAN MARINE GORSE. is a bush which attains a height of 3 to 4 m. & grows in those zones of N.W. Europe subject to atlantic influence, that is: from S.W. Scandinavia to N.W. Spain. This non-meteorising leguminous plant produces a green fodder of high nutritional value which livestock prefer even to hay. It gives peak fodder production from the end of November to the end of February arriving just in time to replace exhausted autum pastures.
Since time immemorial in Brittany & Wales, livestock (sheep, goats, cattle & horses) fed on ground gorse sprouts during the entire winter period; Cut right to the ground but harvested only once every 2 years, the top of the plant was used for fodder & the rest as animal beding or fire wood. The potent yield of marine gorse would be enourmous if we could cultivate it intensively.It would pulverise all European lodder records with an average yield of 50 to 100 tonnes of Dry Matter material /Ha. /year.
Because it's maximum yield is in the middle of winter, just when the pastures have nothing to give, gorse culture could constitute an important link in the fodder chain. Just like Robinia f.a., gorae is a leguminous plant which is valuable for developing sandy & acid soils, uncultiv ated land which is not part of the usable agricultural surface where it produces an average of 15 tonnes of Dry Matter /Ha. per year.
M.B. 12 kg. of gorse equals 8 kg. of hay & 4,5 of oats.
ABOUT ASH THEBS.
Their dried leaves & ramifications were traditio-naly used as reserve winter fodder in the mountains of Laucaune (Montague Noire, southern foothills of the Massif Oentral)where the goats throw themselves at it & seem to prefer it to hay.
The leaves & ramifications of Beech, Poplar (except black poplar which is toxic) Hazelnut, (sorbus aucuparia Ii.), Sider, Silver birch, linden, Fig & Tree lucerne have sufficient nutritive value as wall as being quite appetizing.
The leaves & small branches of willow, alder, chestnut, horse chestnut & olive trees are difficult to digest, unappetizing & only suitable for sheep & goats. Olive trees give a very bad taste to the milk of ruminants.
Oak & evergreen oak leaves are just about okay for sheep & goats but used only in very small quantities for cattle. They reduce the milk production in cows & are toxic because o^ their high level of tanin & their astringanoe•. In fact oak leaves should only be fed to dry sheep & never to milk producing animals. Never-thele ss oak acorns are good for livestock because of their richness in feed unit at the end:
of autumn & during winter. This is the time when lack of sunshine & the migration of carbonized reserves towards the roots, causes the graminae to lose energetic value, so that supplementing with forage containing lots of feed units is beneficial. But large quantities of acorns given to cows brings down their lactation level. Acorns should be considered a com-plementery food, not a basefood.
Coniferous needles are absolutely undi-gestible & unappetizing.
Black poplar leaves are toxic.
Walnut, laurel, pink laurel, goldenchain laburnum, cytlsus scoparius (scotch broom), yew & box leaves are very -poisonous for animals ( and humans).
Leaf forage can be used as fodder condiments because it is rich in oligo-elements which are brought to the surface by the deep roots after dissolution of the bedrock. That is why tree leaves are much richer in oligo-elements than grass. So regular distribution of a small quantity of leaves can be very good for the livestock's health.
Leaf fodder can be very useful for ekeing out hay reserves during winter. Thus elm leaves were sometimes collected into dryleaf faggots for sheep & goats in the Massif Central & Italy. Finally forage trees can serve as reserve fodder (while growing)with a view to filling a gap in summer, as well as emergency pastures in case of heavy droughts: nothing is more uneconomical than cutting hay in spring only to feed it to the livestock in summer.