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Feeds to enhance milk production

Provide a well rounded diet without commercial feed, including discussions of the methods and merits of growing fodder.
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Re: Feeds to enhance milk production

Post Number:#16  Unread postby MaggieJ » Sun Jan 22, 2012 1:51 pm


White certainly looks tedious to gather, but I've found that by cropping it by the handful it adds up surprising quickly. It regenerates very fast too. This fall I was gathering from the same patch about three times a week. I intend to plant more this year, wherever our "lawn" is thin.
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Re: Feeds to enhance milk production

Post Number:#17  Unread postby Jojuan » Sun Jan 22, 2012 4:07 pm


Stinging nettle is a most amazing plant, second only in nutritional value to the equally-maligned dandelion. It is especially noted for its abilities to boost milk production in mammals (humans, too) and egg production in poultry. Seeds are available in many catalogs for those who have garden space. I harvest, however, from wild stands in early spring, drying and storing the hay for feeding throughout the year (must be stored airtight to prevent mold). My rabbits come unglued when they see me coming with it... even turning away from carrots. From personal experience, nettle hay makes an extrordinary difference in lactating does. One cautionary note: :!: nettle must be introduced about 1 week AFTER kindling and gradually even at that. Personally, I keep a special stash (mixed with peppermint) for making a delicious winter tea. Google for details and images - you'll be amazed.

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Re: Feeds to enhance milk production

Post Number:#18  Unread postby caroline » Sun Jan 22, 2012 5:56 pm


Thanks for the nettle suggestion. As a caution,it really DOES sting if it gets on your skin fresh. I have lots growing near my creek. Jojuan, do you strip the leaves or offer the plant with the stem on?
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Re: Feeds to enhance milk production

Post Number:#19  Unread postby Jojuan » Sun Jan 22, 2012 6:39 pm


How true, Caroline; protective clothing and heavy vinyl gloves are essential for harvesting - and even then, count on coming home with a sting or two, but it's worth it. Nutrient-wise, it's important to harvest before the plant blooms. Nettle will sport flower buds for quite some time before they actually bloom so it takes close inspection to know when the season has ended.

HARVEST DETAILS: I grab a bunch of stalks near the ground and cut with scissors or pruning shears tossing in piles as I work through a patch. Then I load the piles into large leaf bags to carry home (having a friend helps). As soon as possible, I rubberband together the ends of 8-10-12 stalks (depends on the thickness), then I force a large paperclip (pryed open a bit) through the rubberband to serve as a hook for hanging each bunch from wire stretched overhead across the garage. Be careful not to crowd bunches as it encourages mold. Drying time will depend on temperature and humidity levels; usually 10 - 14 days in my area. Once crispy dry, the stalks should be to stored away from heat and moisture. The rabbits will readily eat the entire stalk, leaves and all...even eating the crumbs from my hand. Fortunately, the oil - so painful when injected by the plant's "hair" - is rendered harmless through drying. BTW, the aroma of curing nettles is divine!

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Re: Feeds to enhance milk production

Post Number:#20  Unread postby MaggieJ » Sun Jan 22, 2012 7:31 pm


I'll have to harvest some of our nettles this year. I question, though, storing them in air-tight packaging. Unless they are bone dry, they would mould very quickly with no air circulation. Perhaps, however, your procedure is due the extreme humidity in your area? I store my dried greens in large mesh onion and orange bags and it seems to work very well.
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Re: Feeds to enhance milk production

Post Number:#21  Unread postby caroline » Sun Jan 22, 2012 8:55 pm


great details from both of you Maggie & Jojuan. I'm excited to try the nettle gathering. Since my patches are within 50 yards of my barn I think that I can use a wheel barrow or my big garden cart & don't have to use the leaf bags.I haven't observed the "blooming" details so I will be watching for that. I have gathered in the past and cooked for my own use but haven't known that the buns would benefit. My husband absolutely refused to even TRY the greens.So he'll be happy I'm feeding them to the rabbits:)
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Re: Feeds to enhance milk production

Post Number:#22  Unread postby hoodat » Mon Jan 23, 2012 9:56 am


MaggieJ wrote:I'll have to harvest some of our nettles this year. I question, though, storing them in air-tight packaging. Unless they are bone dry, they would mould very quickly with no air circulation. Perhaps, however, your procedure is due the extreme humidity in your area? I store my dried greens in large mesh onion and orange bags and it seems to work very well.

I store a lot of clover hay and once it is thoroughly dry I have no trouble keeping it in plastic trash bags so long as I leave the top of the bag open and don't pack it down too tightly.
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Re: Feeds to enhance milk production

Post Number:#23  Unread postby caroline » Mon Jan 23, 2012 12:48 pm


Jojuan wrote:Stinging nettle... One cautionary note: :!: nettle must be introduced about 1 week AFTER kindling and gradually even at that.

Could you say more about this caution.
In another place you indicate that ALL your rabbits come running when you bring in the nettle. So...do you feed it to everyone, or save it for lactating does? And why the gradual introduction? Do you think it increases milk production TOO quickly, or some other concern?

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Re: Feeds to enhance milk production

Post Number:#24  Unread postby OneAcreFarm » Mon Jan 23, 2012 1:11 pm


MamaSheepdog wrote:My white clover gets a good six inches tall, with leaves larger than a quarter.


Yup, mine too, and it is probably the easiest for me to gather. The rabbits LOVE it!
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Re: Feeds to enhance milk production

Post Number:#25  Unread postby Jojuan » Mon Jan 23, 2012 5:16 pm


Maggie is correct concerning the mold...it is imperative that the leaves and stalks have ample air circulation to dry thoroughly. When I remove the rubberband, oftentimes, I detect moisture underneath, which I just snap off before putting the bunch in the leaf bag (try to keep the leaves attached). I confess I lost an entire season's harvest when I didn't get it bagged soon after drying. One hard, late-summer rain and the nettles molded where they hung. :?

While I keep nettle hay mainly for lactating does (giving 3 stalks/day), I spare a stalk for each of the others as my supply allows. Their pitiful begging is hard to resist (they've successfully trained me).

The caution about introducing nettle gradually (although, in the beginning I ignorantly started giving it a week before kindling) comes after reading that both doe and kits can experience serious difficulties when too much milk is produced in the first day or two after kindling....thus the common caution to even limit water. (I've never gone that far, myself.)

The doe that enjoyed my first nettle crop grew an enormous mammary system - at least double what it had been from her first litter. I had to wonder though, whether her size was simply because she was "stretched out" from the first litter. So, as an experiment, nursing a third litter, she received no nettle hay. Her teats remained small as with her first litter...not that she ever had any milk issues, in the first place. (Commercial rabbits rarely do. My husband and I raise and show Palomino.)

Once I get out of this reply mode and can see your replies, I'll know if I remembered to answer everyone's great responses. Oh! Yes...the husband who wouldn't eat the greens!! My husband wasn't thrilled with them either, but that's because I fed nettle that was too old. I've since learned from reading on Google that only sprouts six inches or shorter (from the ground) are tender. Anything taller is tough and fibrous...like chewing fishing line. Not surprising when you consider that nettle is used to produce textiles similar to linen from flax. The flavor is delicious (used to make beer and wine) and the color leached while steeping tea is a deep emerald green - used for dying. Did I say the plant is amazing? :roll:

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Re: Feeds to enhance milk production

Post Number:#26  Unread postby caroline » Mon Jan 23, 2012 6:01 pm


Jojuan wrote: only sprouts six inches or shorter (from the ground) are tender. Anything taller is tough and fibrous...like chewing fishing line. :roll:

WOW! I don't even notice my nettles until they get as tall as I am. Honestly though, I don't really WANT my husband to get too excited about eating/drinking nettles now that I have this new opportunity to save something else for the rabbits. I don't imagine that THEY will complain about the fibrous quality of the greens. They seem perfectly happy with all the mallow I can pull for them and THAT has to be pretty chewy.

I've spent the day walking around my place and scoping out the various sheds/barns/lean-tos to see WHERE I can string all this wire that I'm planning to hang this imaginary nettle crop from. Today was a great time to see where the leaky drips are too,since we FINALLY got some rain. This has been the driest winter that I can remember so far. So glad to have this blessed water. Hope the pasture can recover before the summer officially gets here.
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Re: Feeds to enhance milk production

Post Number:#27  Unread postby Jojuan » Mon Jan 23, 2012 6:53 pm


Oops! So glad you shared your plans, Caroline. I should have remembered to mention that drying nettles is best done in the shade. Sunlight destroys the nutritional value, but perhaps in your area, the drying time could be minimal. That first year, before my husband invited me to use the garage, I hung dozens of 30-inch bunches from tree branches. It was embarrassing somewhat; the tree was visible from the street. My set-up definitely took on a "contraband" look, (which, now that I think about it, is probably why my husband strung wire in the garage!! LOL )

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Re: Feeds to enhance milk production

Post Number:#28  Unread postby MamaSheepdog » Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:00 am


caroline wrote:Honestly though, I don't really WANT my husband to get too excited about eating/drinking nettles now that I have this new opportunity to save something else for the rabbits.


Galloping Rabbitosis for sure. Gathering greens for the bunnies, and the Hubs gets to eat store bought stuff. Heaven forbid you should harvest the plants small, when they will grow so tall and produce more for the bunnies! :lol:

Reminds me of when my Wonder-Dog had cancer and I had to cook all organic meals for her. I was a vegetarian at the time, and refused to touch meat, let alone cook it for my Hubs. But for my Wonder-Dog... anything! :D The time Hubs came home and the house was filled with the aroma of baked goods, he was so excited... just about broke his heart when he found out it was dog biscuits in the oven...
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Re: Feeds to enhance milk production

Post Number:#29  Unread postby caroline » Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:13 am


MamaSheepdog wrote:
caroline wrote:Honestly though, I don't really WANT my husband to get too excited about eating/drinking nettles now that I have this new opportunity to save something else for the rabbits.


Galloping Rabbitosis for sure. Gathering greens for the bunnies, and the Hubs gets to eat store bought stuff. Heaven forbid you should harvest the plants small, when they will grow so tall and produce more for the bunnies! :lol:

Reminds me of when my Wonder-Dog had cancer and I had to cook all organic meals for her. I was a vegetarian at the time, and refused to touch meat, let alone cook it for my Hubs. But for my Wonder-Dog... anything! :D The time Hubs came home and the house was filled with the aroma of baked goods, he was so excited... just about broke his heart when he found out it was dog biscuits in the oven...


I too have some wonderful stories from my forays into vegetarianism... that I will save for another time. I just wanted to share that MY HUSBAND eats dogs biscuits. It's one of my children's FAVORITE stories to tell on him. "Dad, remember the time you were eating out of that container that was on the chest in the hall...? And you really LIKED them too!"

Besides He LIKES store bought stuff :mrgreen:
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Re: Feeds to enhance milk production

Post Number:#30  Unread postby MaggieJ » Wed Feb 01, 2012 2:31 pm


This site might be worth checking out:

http://spangangoras.blogspot.com/2008/0 ... -moms.html
Sojourning in 1894 . . .

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