Alternative Fodder

Alternative Fodder: Quality Green Fodder—All Year

Turn Wastelands into Productive Fodder Pastures

Alpacas, as with most livestock, require variety in their diet and their nutritional requirements should predominantly be met by green fodder. Many native and introduced pastures species and forage crops can provide this nutritious green feed. However, in recent years farmers and managers are increasingly dealing with less predictable seasonal growth and extremes in weather conditions. There is an increasing need to mitigate climate risk, fill feed gaps and to try to drought proof the farm. Alternative Fodder was formed in part to fulfil these needs, initially for our own alpaca enterprise and has expanded to a wholesale and retail level with plants now sold Australia wide to many different livestock industries (alpaca, sheep, cattle, poultry etc.)

Alternative forms of fodder to fill the feed gap when seasonal pastures let you down; should be in every farmer’s management plan. Alternative Fodder has assessed and selected a number of perennial native and introduced shrubs and trees to further supplement your feed base. Assessment criteria includes the ability of the plant to survive tough climatic conditions once established, ongoing low input and maintenance levels, provide reasonable to good quality feed value to livestock, produce green feed that can be harvested when desired—directly by grazing animals or by cut and carry methods.

Alternative methods of livestock fodder are an added safeguard to assist your management program combating the unpredictability and ravishes of climate change, offering a cheaper comparison to purchasing feed.

Various forms of alternative fodder with their advantages and disadvantages are discussed below.

(TO ORDER OR MAKE AN ENQUIRY SEE "FODDER PLANTS FOR SALE")


Tree Lucerne (also known as Tagasaste)

Chamaecytisus palmensis

A mature tree lucerne in full flower
Photo: GM Cunningham et al
Department of Agriculture NSW

Tree Lucerne is an outstanding multi-purpose legume which can be used as a windbreak, hedge, fodder or as display trees. They are mildly fire resistant, drought tolerant and frost hardy when mature. It reduces impact of all forms of erosion and is an excellent shelter plant. Tree Lucerne is mildly salt tolerant but will not tolerate water logging. The only fertiliser required is Superphosphate.

RAINFALL: 300mm minimum
SOIL: Wide range of soil types, prefers sandy
GROWTH: to 5m high and 5m wide
GROWTH RATE: In excess of 1m per year
FLOWERS: White—winter to summer
ASPECT: Temperate Plant—survives in the hot westerly belt to the cool highlands
LONGEVITY: In excess of 25 years

FODDER VALUE: The king of tree fodders! All parts are edible. There are no reports of Tree Lucerne containing compounds toxic to animals (NSW Agfact-Agdex 125/00). The more it is pruned the better and it regenerates quickly. Highly valued as a fodder supplement for most livestock.

NUTRTIONAL VALUE (source: NSW Primary Industry Department):

Dry Matter: 60.4%
Organic Matter: 92.0%
Nitrogen: 2.5%
Crude Protein: 15.7%
Metabolic Energy: 9.1%
Digestible Dry Matter: 60.8%

Old Man Saltbush

Atriplex semibaccata

Old Man Saltbush
Photo: GM Cunningham et al
Department of Agriculture NSW

An evergreen bush with silver-grey foliage. It is mildy fire retardant and tolerates high constant temperatures. Can withstand severe drought conditions and will also tolerate shallow flooding for lengthy periods but is unsuitable for waterlogged soils.

RAINFALL: 300mm minimum
SOIL: Predominately light clay but can grow in most soil types. Prefer slightly alkaline soils
GROWTH: to 2m high and 4 to 5 m across
GROWTH RATE: 40 cm per year
FLOWERS: Cream—spring to summer
ASPECT: Harsh dry environment. High temperatures and erratic rainfall
LONGEVITY: In excess of 100 years

FODDER VALUE: It is high in protein and needs to be regularly grazed to maintain plants within animal’s height. It provides off ground feed for considerable periods often extending into drought conditions. Good water supply must be available to the animals at all times. Although rare some oxalates do occur so it is best to test. It recovers well after grazing and can survive complete defoliation.

NUTRTIONAL VALUE (source: NSW Primary Industry Department):

Dry Matter: 55.4%
Organic Matter: 80.1%
Nitrogen: 2.7%
Crude Protein: 17.3%
Metabolic Energy: 10.6%
Digestible Dry Matter: 71.0%

Creeping Saltbush

Atriplex semibaccata

Creeping Saltbush
Photo: GM Cunningham et al
Department of Agriculture NSW

A prostrate perennial sub-shrub with long slender brittle stems. It has high salinity tolerance, is drought tolerant and is frost hardy when established. It is great for rocky outcrops where little other plant growth occurs.

RAINFALL: 300mm minimum
SOIL: Clay, clay loams, also sandy loams
GROWTH: Prostrate to 1 to 2m across
GROWTH RATE: 75cm per year
FLOWERS: Summer
ASPECT: Dry environment
LONGEVITY: In excess of 35 years

FODDER VALUE: A very useful plant that often grows in dense clusters. It establishes well on scaly and bare areas. Considered one of the most grazed of the saltbushes offering a variety in diet. Good water supply must be available to the animals at all times. Although rare some oxalates do occur so it is best to test.

NUTRTIONAL VALUE (source: NSW Primary Industry Department):

Dry Matter: 51.6%
Organic Matter: 80.4%
Nitrogen: 2.6%
Crude Protein: 16.3%
Metabolic Energy: 9.9%
Digestible Dry Matter: 66.2%

Kurrajong

Brachychiton populneus

Kurrajong
Photo: PL Milthorpe
Department of Agriculture NSW

This shapely and beautiful Australian native shade tree is an excellent windbreak. It is highly regarded as a fodder tree as branches are easily lopped and livestock readily eat leaves and small branches. It is frost hardy and provides excellent shelter when established.

RAINFALL: 300 to 600mm
SOIL: Sandy
GROWTH: 5 to 15m high, canopy dense
GROWTH RATE: 45cm per year
FLOWERS: Cream—spring to summer
ASPECT: Dry warm inland
LONGEVITY: In excess of 40 years

FODDER VALUE: Has little effect on crop and pastures production so it is rarely removed when clearing land. It is useful as drought forage as it is highly palatable and nutritious. As it regenerates slowly when lopped (some 3 to 5 years) it is best to only partially lop a portion at a time.

NUTRTIONAL VALUE (source: NSW Primary Industry Department):

Dry Matter: 56.7%
Organic Matter: 90.8%
Nitrogen: 1.6%
Crude Protein: 10.1%
Metabolic Energy: 7.8%
Digestible Dry Matter: 51.8%

 

The following fodder plants are available on “an order only situation”—tubestock only.
Please email/telephone your request stating species, delivery address, quantity and timing required.

Bladder Saltbush

Atriplex vesicaria

Bladder Saltbush
Photo: GM Cunningham et al
Department of Agriculture NSW

A perennial small shrub with brittle woody stems with grey-green white scurfy surfaces which is drought tolerant and frost hardy when established.

RAINFALL: 300mm minimum
SOIL: Alluvial plains, rocky hills and ridges
GROWTH: Compact to 70cm high and wide
GROWTH RATE: 25cm per year
FLOWERS: White—spring/summer
ASPECT: Dry inland often on floodplains
LONGEVITY: In excess of 20 years

FODDER VALUE: Usually a spring growth fodder crop although it will grow after useful rainfall in any season. Prolific qualities of seed ensure continuous plant production. It is usually eaten with other pastures and fodder as it can be a little unpalatable by itself, but good nutritious filler. As with all saltbushes always ensure stock has access to a good water supply. It should not be totally defoliated.

NUTRTIONAL VALUE (source: NSW Primary Industry Department):

Dry Matter: 36.1%
Organic Matter: 78.2%
Nitrogen: 2.1%
Crude Protein: 13.3%
Metabolic Energy: 9.6%
Digestible Dry Matter: 64.5%

Bluebush (Queensland Bluebush or Golden Goosefoot)

Chenopodium auricomum

Queensland Bluebush or Golden Goosefoot
Photo: GM Cunningham et al
Department of Agriculture NSW

Bluish-green perennial shrub with erect branches often tipped with golden flower spikes. Often growing with Mitchell grass, Black box and Coolibah communities.

RAINFALL: 300mm minimum
SOIL: Clay soils often on floodplains
GROWTH: 1 to 1.5m high
GROWTH RATE: 25cm per year
FLOWERS: Golden—winter to spring
ASPECT: Dry inland
LONGEVITY: In excess of 20 years

FODDER VALUE: It is regarded as useful drought resistant fodder which is not readily eaten by stock until one of the last remaining tree fodders. Capable of withstanding extended periods of partial inundation. It is one of the few blue bushes where no toxins or eating problems have been recorded.

NUTRTIONAL VALUE:
Data not available.


Sandalwood

Santalum lancelolatum

Sandalwood
Photo: GM Cunningham et al
Department of Agriculture NSW

A variable small shrub to small tree depending upon soil and environmental conditions. It has pendulous branches and is found in woodland communities. Timber yields an aromatic smoke when burnt. Requires a host tree as it is parasitic on the roots of other plants. Often used for incense. Well known for its oil content. Can take 20 to 30 years to mature.

RAINFALL: 300mm minimum
SOIL: Sandy or sandy and clay loams
GROWTH: From shrub 2 to 4m high, to tree 5 to 7m high
GROWTH RATE: 25cm per year
FLOWERS: Spring to summer
ASPECT: Dry inland, wide range sandy to rocky hills, sand sandy to clay loams
LONGEVITY: In excess of 60 years

FODDER VALUE: Regarded as useful fodder as it is highly palatable to most livestock and has high nutrient level.

NUTRTIONAL VALUE:
Data not available.