Tree Feed Newsletters:
December 2001 [446K PDF]
June 2002 [909K PDF]
December 2002 [173K PDF]
July 2003 [172K PDF]
December 2003 [186K PDF]
June 2004 [413K PDF]
Final Report: Final Report
The project will enable farmers in the Lower North Island to develop systems on their farms that enable them to sustainably use tree fodder to supplement poor pasture supply during droughts, and as an alternative feed resource in other years.
The project will determine the effectiveness of using forage from trees already growing on the farm for other purposes, such as soil conservation, riparian management, shelter, timber or landscaping, for feeding livestock during droughts. It will also evaluate coppiced willows planted as special purpose fodder banks in wet or waste areas of farms.
Central to the project will be the conducting of large grazing experiments at Massey University's Riverside Farm. Ewes will be supplemented fodder through the summer months, and measurements of increases to lambing %, weaning weight and wool production will be recorded. Cost/benefit analysis of this research will be conducted and distributed to farmers.
Opportunity exists to develop guidelines for the management of trees for forage production, and for the feeding out of tree forage. This information will be based on the experiences of farmers who have used trees for forage and on published information.
The East Coast of the North Island and parts of Rangitikei experience regular and sometimes severe summer droughts, which significantly reduce livestock condition and productivity. The frequency and severity of droughts are expected to increase in the lower North Island, and in many other parts of New Zealand.
Throughout the lower North Island it is estimated that 80,000 to 90,000 willow and poplar poles are planted annually for erosion control, shelter and aesthetic reasons. These annual plantings and hundreds of thousands of poles that are already established in the farmed environment are a valuable resource. This can also be used to supply supplementary feed during droughts. It is readily available and is cheaper than buying in and transporting other supplements.
Meetings with farmer groups have been held in southern Hawkes Bay and Rangitikei, using the well-established group in Wairarapa as a model. Willow coppice blocks have been established at Massey University's Riverside Farm. Farmer interviews have commenced, to document experiences with feeding poplar and willow material to stock, and a project database of farmers, scientists and other participants has been developed.