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Discussion Starter #1
As a general livestock or poultry feeding question, Swiss Chard is productive and easy to grow rather quickly in the garden. Chickens loved it when I had it grown to feed them.
Does anyone have experience growing and feeding chard leaves to their poultry or other stock, such as pigs?
What do you think about the nutritive value of this for animals?

Rich
 

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Good timing... my friend grew it this year and she just gave me what was left in her garden patch, two large garbage bags full. The chickens and rabbits loved it! I wouldn't know about nutritional value, but since the critters like it and it grows well here, it'll be planted in my garden next year :) More sunflowers too - between the chickens and the bunnies, they eat the whole plant, and if you harvest the seed heads to dry, they make great treats for them over the winter. Ditto for thistles.

I wonder if anyone has tried mint for rabbits. Mine ate a whole patch of it without harm (to the rabbits), and I've never read anything about mint being good for them or even something to feed as a treat. Haven't found anything about elm bark and leaves either (another of their favorites).

One thing I know for sure is that my rabbits and chickens do well on a varied diet including a lot of local "produce" - weeds and grasses fresh from the mower bag, branches and leaves from my trees, dinky little untreated apples from people's backyards, etc. etc., though the spring bunnies grew into fat butterballs mostly on mallow leaves, which is my unofficial groundcover :D
 

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I never thought about feeding chickens mint. It grows like crazy here and I have 5 different varieties that I started this year. I kept them away from the chicken area though. I do know they like rhubarb leaves, especially the geese! I had to fence those in.

Will have to plant some chard next year too!
 

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In Europe they used to harvest and dry confrey as winter fodder, Very high nutrituve value, the animals love it, and you only have to plant it once as it keeps coming back every year and spreads itself via root system. My goats loved it. I would get 3 cuttings each year in my short growing time and then quit cause it was tiring. First 2 cuts would be the big leaves to hang to dry, the last cutting was stalk and all leaves. Chard would probably work fine and be nutritious, but more time consuming than comfrey and you would have to plant chard every year for a 1-time harvest. Kale would be good also as a fodder crop.
 

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goatlady said:
In Europe they used to harvest and dry confrey as winter fodder, Very high nutrituve value, the animals love it, and you only have to plant it once as it keeps coming back every year and spreads itself via root system. My goats loved it. I would get 3 cuttings each year in my short growing time and then quit cause it was tiring. First 2 cuts would be the big leaves to hang to dry, the last cutting was stalk and all leaves. Chard would probably work fine and be nutritious, but more time consuming than comfrey and you would have to plant chard every year for a 1-time harvest. Kale would be good also as a fodder crop.
Let me tell you.........keep your chard mulched and it will come back in the spring. It gets to 10 degrees F.- sometimes 0, and ours comes back easly. Let some go to seed too. It grows easily from seed.

If you want your critters to have a well balanced diet- and the benefits of comfrey, my wife and I have let our crop take over our yard under the maple tree- where it is shady (not required) and the roots make other garden efforts more difficult. We sell 12 root sections, Postage Paid, for ten dolllars. It will take a couple of years to get it well established.

If anyone is interested, PM me and I'll send you my e-mail addresses, and I can send you some in the Spring.
 

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Elm bark is a good nutritional food. Elm seed is delicious in early spring. Put it in salads and soups. Chard is nutritious also, but it is in the cabbage family and can cause thyroid problems if overdone.
 

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http://www.aafco.org/comfrey1.htm

"Association of American Feed Control Officials
Provide a Framework for Federal/State Regulatory Action
Involving Commercial Animal Feeds Containing Comfrey
The Association of American Feed Control Officials, Inc. (AAFCO) has recommended a nationwide enforcement event for Comfrey in animal feeds to begin on March 3, 2003."

At the AAFCO Annual Meeting in August 2002, AAFCO announced that Comfrey, determined to be a health and safety concern in animals, is recommended for removal from all animal feeds.
 

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moonwolf said:
As a general livestock or poultry feeding question, Swiss Chard is productive and easy to grow rather quickly in the garden. Chickens loved it when I had it grown to feed them.
Does anyone have experience growing and feeding chard leaves to their poultry or other stock, such as pigs?
What do you think about the nutritive value of this for animals?

Rich
Nutrition Facts
(1 cup chopped)
Calories 35
Protein 3 grams
Carbohydrates 7 grams
Calcium 102 mg
Iron 4 mg
Magnesium 151 mg
Phosphorus 58 mg
Potassium 960 mg
Sodium 313 mg
Vitamin C 32 mg
Folate 15 mcg
Vitamin 5493 IU
 

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moonwolf said:
As a general livestock or poultry feeding question, Swiss Chard is productive and easy to grow rather quickly in the garden. Chickens loved it when I had it grown to feed them.
Does anyone have experience growing and feeding chard leaves to their poultry or other stock, such as pigs?
What do you think about the nutritive value of this for animals?

Rich
http://www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/veggies/chard1.html

Nutrition Facts
(1 cup chopped)
Calories 35
Protein 3 grams
Carbohydrates 7 grams
Calcium 102 mg
Iron 4 mg
Magnesium 151 mg
Phosphorus 58 mg
Potassium 960 mg
Sodium 313 mg
Vitamin C 32 mg
Folate 15 mcg
Vitamin 5493 IU
 

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I've grown chard especially for my chickens, turkeys and pigs, they love it. If they don't get it with their regular feed they get quite indignant! I have also fed the pigs comfrey in small amounts, as it grows wild around my propety.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
thanks everyone for your input and info.
Chards grows well here, but would have to be replanted since ground frost (gets to -40 here) would winterkill.
I came across a chart, I think it was in Countryside Mag. that showed a 50 ft. row of chard produces 175 lb., which was the highest harvest of other vegetables. I know that you can snip leaves and stalks as it grows through the season to keep producing (think of it kind of like the way rhubarb grows).

Thanks for that nutritivive value list , Siryet!

I also tried feeding kale, which is good, but the chard was consumed very readily by the chickens, ducks. They preferred the chard if given the choice.
I see now in the seed catalogs that there is a lot of colored or 'rainbow' chard looks interesting.

How about growing the regular green chard to go to seed and using that for replanting? Has anyone done that?

Rich
 

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Don't forget that chard sells at farmers' markets for 2-8 dollars a pound raw!

Sell the chard, buy feed and keep the profit.

Of course if you have more chard then you can sell . . .
 

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Discussion Starter #14
deberosa said:
I never thought about feeding chickens mint. It grows like crazy here and I have 5 different varieties that I started this year. I kept them away from the chicken area though. I do know they like rhubarb leaves, especially the geese! I had to fence those in.

Will have to plant some chard next year too!
Aren't rhubarb leaves toxic to eat? Well, at least for humans. I think they are high in oxalic acid or something??
I wonder too, about mint. Might that not affect the eggs? I'm thinking you might have 'minted' eggs. Whether that's desireable, or novel, I have no idea. Just a thought.

Debbie, yes. it seems like chard is one of those recommended things worth growing for animals. Your chickens will love your for feeding them chard, and it shouldn't affect the taste of eggs or meat. If I remember the chard planted was only a row, and some chickens sometimes would pick in the garden. They beelined right to the chard and past everything else. Something that they really like about chard.
 
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