25 Mar 2013

Willow and poplar feed stock during drought

9:30 am on 25 March 2013

A North Island farm forester is urging drought-afflicted farmers who have run out of feed for their stock to take a leaf out of his book and feed them foliage from trees.

The Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council has highlighted the benefits of willows and poplars in particular as a source of nutritious supplementary feed.

And that's endorsed by Denis Hocking, a Horowhenua farmer who has been trimming his trees for more than 30 years to feed stock during dry summers.

As well as their nutritional value, willow and poplar leaves contain some condensed tannins not found in grass that kill intestinal worms and stimulate ovulation in ewes.

A trial conducted by Massey University at Riverside Farm near Masterton showed a 15% to 30% improved lambing percentage in ewes supplementary-fed on willows during times of drought.