Sometimes you read or see something odd and it just clicks.. Tree hay for me clicked.. I mean I had been pruning out tree branches I didn’t want, I had been cutting an feeding little tree’s for years to the sheep and goat flock. So when I watched a video that Tree Hay was used in Europe for many years with pollard trees.. it made so much sense and then when I read more, dug deeper and joined a tree hay group. I saw how it was used in other counties in different ways both as fresh and as dried.
When I first watched a video on pollard tree’s and taking up to 50 percent of the branches to dry them for winter use.. I just went WOW.. This can add so much more feed on my smaller property.. Its fodder growing both the food forest and more important to me.. in the pasture.
You see I have a good amount of tree’s in the pasture that can be big pollard tree’s, they are big enough that they have straight trunks as the goats and sheep took off all the limbs below their eating range.. I can top out the tree’s and now I have both shade for the livestock, a tree belt and a productive way to use the tree greens themselves.
I plan to use the pasture cut branches as they do in the drier climates, cutting them for fresh fodder in later july and into early aug. I plan to use the pollards in the food forest for making the to dry tree hay.. They can be cut much smaller and lower to the ground as they will not have the livestock pressure on them, plus I do not need them to act in any way as a shade tree..
They are not really in full leaf yet but that is not stopping the flocks from being delighted with what they are getting, they only thing they leave behind is the non-green wood.
Ideally, you are doing your main cuts while the tree is dormant.. you want the tree to split into two or three strong ways.. each one of those will then produce lots of branches off each one of these off-shoots.
This is the wild mess that just happened from the last time. I got the splits but I also have growth all over the place..
Ok, I am hoping these photos still show what I am trying to.. the first one is before I trimmed it, the second is what I want for my summer growth. I will see if I can keep taking photos of a couple of the same tree’s over the season to show you how its going.
I got three five tree’s done this morning.. I will be doing three to five each day for a few weeks I am sure to get them all done. It will be a big job but its going to be so worth it!
I have a few willow tree’s that are being transplanted into the food forest that are only being put in to be grown into very heavily pruned fodder producing tree’s.. they are considered one of the best..
I have a lot of Norway maples on the farm.. they are have been used in the more northern climates for many years and they will have to do 🙂
It’s a great way to have kindling on hand too. 🙂
For sure, the left over’s are pretty for kindle starter..
I’ve used an awful lot of tree hay this year and though it is more labor intensive than grass bales, it doens come with a lot of additional benefits
when you say you’re doing 3-5 trees/day are you spending all day to get that or just a couple hours? I’m trying to determine approximate labor estimates for harvesting tree hay.
Also, I’ve written a bit of a blog post on my tree hay experience here:
Hello Devon, so because those tree’s I am using have been cut before, I am taking off about a 3rd of the new growth when its around the size of my thumb, I keep them lowe to the ground trunk wise and as my main one is Norway Maple, its a huge producer, it does not take me that long.. I asked hubby and he says, he figures I cut my wheelbarrols worth with only adding 20 to 30 minutes per day to the chores time.. I have to agree, I do not do like a whole day of cutting, I just work my way though and only do so much per day, but you need to remember that most of the time, I am feeding it fresh (not dried in winter) as a way to add to my spring/summer pasture feeding.. I do some limited winter around lambing time as I have found the ewes really like to get tree hay in the final weeks of expecting and just after freshening.. they go for the tree hay first an then the regular hay afterwards. Thanks for the link I will go check it out.