July 12, 2013

Homegrown Goat Minerals

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 


Anonymous said...

This seems so labor-intensive on your part. To reduce part of your load, is there a way to seed their forage area with those items that are "seedable?"

Farmer Barb said...

I laugh because I find myself checking off items from the list, thinking about what I have here and what I don't have. I am thrilled to know what to do with all the swiss chard that grows. Thank you again, as always!

Renee Nefe said...

That mix looks as if the goats will love it.

Michelle said...

You are amazing. I love this idea, but don't have the resources (yet) to pursue it. Locking it away for future reference. :-)

Homesteading wife said...

I wonder if something like this would work for my cows. Fantastic post.

The Cranky said...

It does seem a bit labour intensive but when you're comparing hard costs to soft costs...and good quality, organic forage to mediocre who-knows-where-it-comes-from...not to mention being more self-sufficient...Well, doesn't seem quite that intensive after all.

Leigh said...

Anonymous, actually, we are doing as you suggest, i.e. seeding forage areas with herbs and vegetables in addition to pasture grasses and legumes. We're also remineralizing these areas, to make sure that what does grow there, contains the nutrients they need. My mix will be fed in winter months, when forage pickings are slim.

Barb, how funny. Actually, it was a huge batch of dehydrated Swiss chard that got me started on this. Then I read about herbal supplements for sale, which were way to pricey. This seems easier and a huge plus in the waste-not-want-not department.

Renee, they do love those dried greens, especially during winter! In summer, when they have more choice, they're pickier. :)

Michelle, I've also considered buying herbs in bulk for this purpose and mixing my own supplement. Then I started looking at what grew around here and did the nutritional research. It made sense then to make my own.

Christina H., it probably would. Or at least help!

Jacqueline, no one said the simple life was easy, LOL. And you're right about the self-sufficiency part. Since that is one of our primary goals, this makes sense. I'm finding too, that a workload is easier if it's part of a routine. So, if I just do a little bit every day, I'll end up with quite a bit in the end. :)

Sandy Livesay said...


You will have some of the most healthiest goats with all these herbs :-) and you know exactly what is going in their bellies, none of the processed stuff companies like to throw in.

Frank and Fern said...

Thank you very much for this information. You have done a lot of research that we can benefit from. What a blessing for me!
Thanks again,

Unknown said...

Very resourceful! I hope to have goats some day and that's a great idea, and really gives you food security, knowing exactly what's in there...

Anonymous said...

Wow, those look so beautifully done, Leigh! Your goaties must love them!

I love our Excalibur, we have a 9 tray....best one on the market! :)

Mary Ann said...

We have had llamas and horses, but are new goat owners here. I am going to go back and read your earlier post... I could do this! What a great idea!

CaliforniaGrammy said...

You cease to amaze me in all that you do on a daily basis. You must love "doing it" and I know your animals love you. It must be fun for you, or at least you make time for the "fun" stuff in your life too! Maybe it's because I'm retired now, and what you do at 5 Acres and A Dream would be called "work" to me, teeHeeee!

Ellen and Adrian said...

Yet another post full of information for future use :) I'm feeding a lot of these plants to our meat rabbits - the chickens like to forage (pick live plants apart), but if I bring them cut greens they ignore them..... Risa over at 'A Way To Live' has some wonderful information about making solar dehydrators out of used windows and egg cartons which might be worth a look for you.

Leigh said...

Sandy, I hope so. I've had issues with mineral deficiencies in the past and I'd much rather they get their minerals from they eat!

Fern, thank you! So glad it's useful.

Nancy, thanks! Yes, knowing what's in it and how it was grown gives a lot of peace of mind.

Pam, I envy you your 9 tray Excalibur!

Mary Ann, congratulations on your goats! I'm also trying to grow a lot of these things in their forage areas, to provide minerals in the summer.

Janice, well, we all try do do what we love, eh? I do love doing this and it is fun. It's work too, but then we're not interested in an easy life. Much better a productive one with meaningful work.

Ellen and Adrian, thank you! I've seen Risa's video on her solar dehydrator. In one of her posts she mentions it's harder with high humidity, which is my problem.

It's funny you should mention your chickens. Mine are the same way. :)

Woolly Bits said...

not that I'd know anything about feeding goats - but assuming that you don't grow bananas yourself - aren't you worried that there are chemicals on the banana peels, that might get into the mix? or can you get organic bananas without additives (not here, at least none that I'd have seen). the only extra thing I can do with banana skins is dyeing - but they need to get really black for that and normally I manage to eat them before they start walking by themselves:)

benita said...

I think your goats eat better than most people do. I admire your knowledge base and all of the research you have done.

Right now, you goats would love the back part of my yard. I joke that it's a "Goat Buffet" but it really is! Chickory, Queen Ann's Lace, Dock, Over grown dandelions, red and while clover, etc. In fact, it's also a Dyer's paradise.

Cat Eye Cottage said...

Great post! I learn so much from you and consider your blog a go-to source for good information.

Anonymous said...

ever try dehydrating in your car? parked in the sun, it gets pretty hot!

Leigh said...

Bettina, that's a definite yes to organic bananas, which fortunately I can get for a fairly good price. I didn't know about dyeing with the peels. But then, coming from you it doesn't surprise me! :o

Benita, the trouble with us humans is that we'd rather eat what tastes good than what's good for us! Actually my goats are the same way. They'd rather hang out in the goat shed and be served grain and hay all day. :p

Candace, thank you! I always hope the information will be useful to someone. It's also useful to me, because I know where to find it when I need it!

Anonymous, that's a good idea. I will definitely give that a try (assuming we ever see the sun again!)

Caroline J. Baines said...

Hey Leigh, I tried to find "Risa over at 'A Way To Live'" via Google and on YouTube with no luck. Do you have a link?

Leigh said...

Carolina, Risa's blog addy is https://risashome.blogspot.ca/. I'm not sure that she's blogged regularly in awhile, but the blog should still be there.