sweet potato forage

YankeePerm YankeePerm at aol.com
Mon Jan 5 12:39:16 EST 1998


In a message dated 1/4/98 1:10:26 PM, you wrote:

<<Why not plant tubers along the far side of a fence from the cattle?  The
vines
that ramble through would be grazed & other vines would survive to
photosynthesize.>>

Hi Sherry

this is indeed a basic strategy we sometimes use in chicken yards.  In this
case, either the animal grazes BOTH sides of each fence at some time OR the
fence is a property boundary.  I should explain that part of the "fence" also
is an old canal dug to lower the water table a bit I suppose, though it wasn't
very effective, and so long as my steer doesn't get into swimming (which he
could do if motivated) it sufficies to keep him in place.  The other places
where the fence separates the pasture from part of our own property there is
heavy shade and/or intensive poultry foraging.  Our chickens eat anything,
including improbables like oregano and cactus.  While advantageous in many
ways, there is a down side.   They even eat sweet potato roots themselves if
they can get into the garden.  Of course we need not mow where the chickens
roam.  

Our pasture area is divided into a number of small paddocks, and will be
divided some more as we restore the pasture that has been let go.  

An interesting side note:  There is a little tuber called Florida Betony that
is ubiquitous here if it can get any sun.  Tolerates most moisture conditions
short of zero water or continuous immersion.  The tuber itself, and the pre-
tuber stolons, would make good pig forage.  However pigs are a higher
maintenance animal that we won't get until we have an intern, as we like to
get away for weekends together from time to time.  (Eliminates dogs and
rabbits too, unfortunately)  Well the Florida betony spends summer as this
little tuber that looks something like a white grub, but bigger, and people
can eat if if they want to bother with it.  Its taste is a bit aromatic for
me. This time of year it sends up its leaves getting ready for blossoming,
when it is a significant bee forage, and probably useful for certain
biological control insects.  This is an important forage for the steer now as
it is green matter whereas most of the pasture grasses are hot weather grasses
that either go entirely dormant or grow very slowly.  It is a particularly
hard pasture for younger animals that can't handle low qualify forage,
evergreen live oak leaves, etc.  However the betony is the bright spot, adding
green matter with the dried grass.  So we are not getting great gains, but the
animal continues in terrific health.  Sometimes, this time of year, he acts
more like a colt than a steer, probably releaf that the weather isn't hot any
more.  

I don't know how many summer dormant tubers there are, but this one is a real
blessing.  You'd have to be very careful with hog foraging, however, not to
eliminate them.  Probably very short rotations would be required as
supplemental feed during times when food wastes were in short supply.  

Dan

PS  Anybody got any Asian water buffalo for sale?



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