Feed production during droughts

Here are some things we learned about feed production from our recent drought.

This year we experienced the longest and hottest drought that old people in our area can remember.

Because of good planning, we were able to provide good feed for our sheep until the last month. In the last month of the drought, we had to buy 50% of our daily needs. That was the first time we ever had to do that. For that reason, we are preparing for the drought season next year in case it is the same.

We use a cut and carry system. Tall grass provides about 90% of our feed ration. The other 10% is tree leaves. Because the tree leaves produced better during the drought than did the tall grass, we are greatly boosting our tree production. We grow those trees exclusively within the tall grass and in the fence rows.

The two top producers during the drought were Chaya and Cajanus. They produced MUCH more than did the next best group.

The next best group, in order of productivity in the drought, Cablote…Guazuma ulmifolia, Pito… Erythrina berteroana, Madreago…Gliricidia sepium, Chachalaco…Cordia alba, Leucaena…Leucaena leucocephala,

Bottom line: In preparation for next year’s drought, we are planting thousands more Chaya and Cajanus.

Many of our other trees tolerated the drought very well but, we’re not very productive during the drought. When the rains returned, they immediately came back into production. Those included: Calliandra…Calliandra calothyrsus, Guama…Inga edulis, Mulberry…Morus Alba, Nacedero…Trichanthera gigantea.

Hopefully some of this helps you to be better prepared for the next dry season.


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Forage Tree Legumes in Tropical Agriculture

Tropical forage tree legumes in agroforestry systems

Robert, thank you for posting. I would find it helpful if you would summarize the information you are sharing that relates to my post. One of those documents is over 300 pages. I benefited from reading it a few years back. Now I’m curious which parts of it you see applying to the current topic. Thanks, Glen

Hi Glen, what species of Cajanus are you using? Also I assume since you are using Leucaena leucocephalia that you are in a low elevation setting. Knowing a bit about your climate would help with knowing how to generalize this info. Thanks for sharing.

Great questions, Joel.

We are using the agroforestry variety of cajanas that is available here through Echo seed program. I selected that variety, hoping it would be a larger plant with a very strong taproot. They were planted in an area that gets flooded by the excessive rain coming off nearby mountains. The hope is the strong taproot will “punch” holes deep into the soil and when the plant dies and the taproot decays, there will be thousands of new channels for water to drain deeper into the soil.

Our elevation is about 800 feet. The soil is sandy.

Another discovery we made accidentally that I should probably post on a different thread because it’s not exactly related to this topic, but at least I will mention it now.

The cajanas grew very tall… 3 to 4 meters. Once the seeds were harvested to eat and save for future seeds, we cut the main trunk about about 4 to 5 feet off ground level. What grew back were not a few individual branches as happens with trees like Gliricidia but instead hundreds of small branches filled with maybe thousands of young tender leaves. It formed what was shaped like a large floral bouquet but without flowers. We cut the main stalk/trunk at about 2 to 3 feet off the ground and took that “bouquet” to the chickens. They devoured it instantly.

We have a system of feeding chickens without needing to buy any feed, nor use food stuff like corn that could be eaten by a poor family, which is our target audience. This new discovery will certainly be added to that system.

Hi Glen,

two questions:

  1. Cajanus = pigeon pea, right?
  2. what about the chaya? What animals did you feed it to, and how did you treat it (as it contains hydrocyanic acid)?

You are correct, Martin that cajanus is pigeon pea.
We feed the Chaya to our sheep and chickens and rabbits. The rabbits don’t receive much. We give most of it to the sheep. It is delivered to them fresh as a part of our cut and carry system.

There are at least two different varieties of chaya. One is itchy to the touch and the other one is not. We got the non-itchy variety from here at the Echo seed store. It is super prolific.