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Bamboo leaves as fodder

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  • Bamboo leaves as fodder

    Hi I'm new here. I hope this question hasn't already been asked a million times - I couldn't find it anywhere so here goes,
    Can cattle eat bamboo leaves safely?
    We have Dexter cattle and want to grow bamboo and we hope we can use its leaves as fodder. Can't find anything on a google search that tells me if its safe. What if it was the cows only source of food, would it have a good balance of nutrients?
    Can anyone tell me?
    Cheers,

    Malc :?)

  • #2
    In the book 'Bamboo World' (I think that's the correct title - it's written by the bloke who set up Bamboo World in New South Wales), it's claimed that bamboo leaves make very good fodder - if I remember the figure correctly they are about 40% protein. I'll check when I get back from the current holiday and have a look in the book.

    Anyway, we've just got a couple of young steers as grass cutters, and the first paddock they have been in has Oldhamii bamboo lining one side. For a week or two they took no notice, then one day I cut down a pole and the end fell across the electric fence into their paddock. They tried eating the tips and found them good, then when I cleaned off the side leaves I chucked them in and the steers ate all that. Since then I see them occasionally pulling leaves off the bamboo in their paddock. Doesn't seem to have hurt them so far.

    At present I am in northern Thailand, and I am amazed to see the variety of bamboos growing here and the range of uses. One that I like is having a bamboo fence/hedge (fedge isn't it?) They have the culms planted at one or two foot spacing, then just chop them off at about 2 m. high. They sprout out sideways, and you have a beautiful living fence.

    Hope some of this helps with the cattle & bamboo issue,

    Peter
    Nimbin, northern NSW, on the edge of the Nightcap National Park.

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    • #3
      Thank you Peter - that's just what I needed to know. We have bought Oldhamii and had the idea of planting it along the fence line. From now on I will always call it the fedge!

      Do the Thai people have cattle? Do they feed their livestock bamboo?
      Cheers,

      Malc :?)

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      • #4
        I have a little bit of experience trying to feed bamboo foliage of various types to cows. They were a pair of milk cows - one a jersery and one a dexter/jersery cross, I think she was.They were fairly pernickety eaters when it came to bamboo. Some times when we carried them cuttings when we were thinning clumps they would devour every leaf, at other times with the same varieties they would turn up their noses and let it dry out and roll around on it and so forth. Never figured out if it had to do more with what was in the cow already, or what was in the bamboo leaves that day...
        There were some varieties that they seemed to like better than others, Oldhammi being one, and definitely other varieties they never much went for.
        I do think it is a great secondary use of bamboo, but I wouldn't recommend feeding anyone just one thing for too long. It is bound to be deficient or overabundant in something or other and you'll get problems. Diversity is the key! Based on my experience, if the cows have access to other stuff, they will eat as much bamboo as is good for them...

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        • #5
          Jo,

          Bamboo is excellent cattle fodder. A lot of the farms I saw around Lismore had bamboo shelter clumps in them that were all cleaned off up to cow height.

          Like any fodder it has its seasons for palatability and digestibility depending on variety. Bamboo shoots are vulnerable and also can be toxic to stock - so protect the new shoots and eat them yourselves. The toxicity is readily removed by boiling.

          Goats and horses like the dried leaves too.

          Bamboo leaves also make great mulch - seed free.

          floot

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