- Animals: bovine, goats, sheep
- Animal Products: dairy, meat
- Animal Production: feed rations, winter forage
Irregular precipitation is decreasing reliability of grass-based forage. European traditions and recent studies ( Gabriel 2019; Hanson 2020a&b) indicate that climate-resilient Northeastern trees and shrubs have potential to bridge critical storage shortfalls, while contributing ecological/climate services. Our studies (Hanson 2020a&b) pointed to sticking-point of labor-time with suggestion of younger/lower growth, and exciting potential for mechanically processed leaf-silages if wood content can be reduced.
Karl Hallen, SUNY Willow Biomass Project, is beginning to fabricate a chain-flail leaf-separator this winter, to produce low-wood-content leaf-silages. Our project will complete, trial and perfect this equipment using feedstock from ground-based power-tool harvests of woody broadleaf growth along field edges, on two farms plus MOFGA’s Common Ground.
We will feed/not feed leaf-silage thus produced to measure how much cattle, sheep and goats eat, how much less hay they eat, and effect on milk quantity. Those results plus labor-time per yield, costs, nutritional analyses, conventional forage comparison, and bedding-woodchip byproduct, will clarify utility/feasibility of field-edge production of Northeastern tree silages.
The chain-flail leaf-separator may be offered through MOFGA’s Shared-Use Equipment program, and certainly through machine plans in our Final Report. Along with improving harvest-speed and product density, leaf separation will streamline yield-edible-portion/acre measurements such as SARE FNE18-897 Demo Plot 2nd harvest in 2024-5.
This farmer-project precedes collaborative UVM/UNH ideas for trials of broadleaf silage in TNF (feed-mixing system used by large cattle producers), SUNY idea of leaf-silage as byproduct of willow biomass trials, and Lucas Tree interest in roadside leaf-silage production for broader community feed security.
Project objectives from proposal:
This project seeks to complete/perfect machinery and test methods for efficient field-edge production of improved nutrient-dense broadleaf tree/shrub silage, analyse nutrition, trial how much cattle, sheep and goats will eat as climate-resilient winter supplement, and assess utility/feasibility in comparison to conventional forages.
1. Complete/perfect Karl’s chain-flail leaf-separator.
- Costs of new/used components, labor;
- Leaf/woodchip proportion plus textural photo per species/age/diameter/length feedstock;
- Machine, final diagram, photos, video.
2. Obtain Laboratory Results.
- Assess safety of fresh-stripped or ensiled: cherry, maple, box elder;
- Examine leaf-silage nutrition alongside animal intake;
- Examine changes, fresh to ensiled.
3. Harvest broadleaf silage from 3 field-edge sites with 5- to 20-year growth of 8+ broadleaf tree/shrub species using power tools and leaf-separator.
- Collect/pack/seal/label leaf-silage in barrels.
- Summarize: species stem-tallies, labor-times, costs, leaf-silage yields.
4. Offer/don’t offer cattle, sheep and goats unlimited weighed amounts of leaf-silage before usual rations for repeated trial-periods, plus two short trials.
- How much they eat.
- Change in amount of grass-hay they eat.
- Effect on cow and goat milk quantity.
5. Compare to other available forages:
- Labor & costs per animal utilization, per nutrition, and per yield.
- Farmer-participant observations.