My biggest challenge, is to grow enough feed to meet our livestock’s nutritional needs. Our pasture is in very poor condition. We are working to improve it, but it will take time. Meanwhile, it is my goal to raise more and more nutrient dense vegetation that will meet both the mineral and nutritional needs of our livestock.
I tried to grow tree lucerne this year. It sprouted beautifully, but did not make it through the summer. I will try again next year. Good stands of tree lucerne would easily serve as an alfalfa replacement most of the year (it is an evergreen tree).
Last year, I was able to gather large piles of wood compost from where a new power line went through. I threw my own organic waste and compost on some of it, including composting squash from last year. I was surprised to discover volunteer squash growing wildly in this mulch without any watering or care on my part, producing an abundance of large fruit. The sheep loved it, and I have since learned that winter squash actually have anti-parasitic qualities. So I hope to plant a lot more next year.
The sweet potatoes I planted this year thrived in the shade house garden. I am now cutting vines to feed the sheep and rabbits every day. They absolutely love it. And they like the tubers too. I hope to grow a lot more sweet potatoes next year, on trellises to encourage vine growth that I can easily cut for feed.
Lambsquarters is a nutritionally dense wild green that grew abundantly in my former goat pen. It is a balanced, high protein green, drought hardy, and the sheep love it. I hope to grow a lot more as well as wild sunflower, which they will happily eat (and is also drought tolerant, thriving in poor soils).
I have also learned, that if you inoculate your plants with this fungi: http://www.fungi.com/shop/fungi-for-healthy-gardens-and-garden-supplies.html , It will dramatically increase the uptake of phosphorus and other minerals. Most fodder plants need increased phosphorus availability. To use fungi to sustainably offer it is awesome! Rodale Institute, apparently, has done a lot of testing with this particular fungi.