Awhile back, I shared some research I'd been doing on herbs and vegetables as a source of vitamins and minerals for my goats ("DIY Vitamins & Minerals For Goats"). I haven't been exceptionally diligent at gathering and dehydrating these, but I have been working on it a little at a time.
|Swiss chard, parsley, and cabbage in the dehydrator|
I've been working in small batches because of the how and where of drying them. My dehydrator is a five tray Excalibur, which I thought adequate for us, but seems kind of small for a winter's worth of dehydrated herbs and veggies for the goats. Fortunately leafy things dry quickly in it.
|Outer cabbage leaves too tough for coleslaw, but perfect to|
chop & dry for goats. It provides vitamins C, K, and sulfur.
Large, repurposed window screens are useful too, as long as the humidity isn't too high. (I have had some things get moldy on me.) They need to be kept undercover too, to protect them from all the rain we've been having.
|Chicory greens are a source of calcium, copper, and iron|
Commercial herb forumlations for goats always seem to be powdered. I don't have the equipment to powder large quantities of herbs, so I've been chopping them. The question is whether to chop them before dehydrating or after. Those going into the dehydrator get chopped beforehand, those dried on screens tend to get cut up afterward. It takes time either way but I find some of those dried stems are a little tough. For storage, I'm using one of my $1 Rubbermaid trash cans.
|Mixture of dried herbs. I give it a stir anytime I add something new.|
I find that with our humidity things that were dried crisp and crunchy tend to soften with time. As long as they were well dehydrated initially, they don't usually get moldy.
Here's the list of what I have so far:
- banana peel - A, B6, folate, potassium
- beet greens - A, C, K, calcium, iron
- blackberry leaf - K, iron
- borage - C, calcium, potassium
- cabbage - C, K, sulfur
- chickweed - A, copper, phosphorus,
- chicory - calcium, copper, iron
- cleavers - C, calcium, copper, iodine, sodium
- cucumber peels - K, potassium
- dandelion leaf - A, K, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium
- dill - A, B6, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, and selenium and zinc in the seeds.
- kale - A, C, K, calcium, potassium, sulfur
- oregano - B6, E, K, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium
- parsley - A, B2, B9, C, E, K, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium, selenium, zinc
- Swiss chard - K, potassium
- spearmint - B2, B6, B9, calcium, copper, magnesium, potassium
- thyme - B1, B9, C, E, K, copper, iron, magnesium, zinc
- yarrow - copper
[For a more extensive list, see "DIY Vitamins & Minerals For Goats" An expanded and updated version of this information can be found in Appendix C of my book 5 Acres & A Dream The Book: The Challenges of Establishing a Self-Sufficient Homestead.]
I'll add things as they enter their growing seasons. I didn't include comfrey, which I'm drying separately; kudzu too. Both are a source of calcium. I also plan to dry blueberries and rose hips. Also flax seed and black oil sunflower seeds if they do well.
I'm not calculating and measuring to get specific amounts of particular vitamins and minerals. I considered that at first, but decided there was no way I could know the exact nutrient content of what I collect and add. I'm going for variety. Goats go for variety too, when they forage; a bite of this and a bite of that.
I'll feed this mixture as a top dressing this winter, adding a small handful to their ration. Besides the nutrition, I know they love the variety when forage pickings are slim. I figure every little bit helps.
Homegrown Goat Minerals © July 2013