Since learning this summer
chickens like my comfrey very much, I decided to spread the
high-protein treat throughout the forest garden. Although this
area isn’t part of any permanent pastures, I do let chickens graze here
from time to time when they’re too young to scratch up the mulch and
when any vegetables in the plot are too tall to be pecked to
pieces. During the rest of the year, the comfrey can either
increase the fertility of the ground it’s planted in (which will become
the furthest reach of my fruit tree roots in a few years), or can be
cut for mulch.
comfrey is easy —
just wait a few years until your plant has taken over the world, dig it
up, and then hack it into pieces. Large hunks will take root
faster, but even small bits of root will usually spring to life if you
don’t mind weeding around them. I was planting directly into sod,
so opted for middle-sized comfrey pieces, which should fend for
themselves with no weeding from day 1.
The tougher part is finding
the most palatable comfrey varieties for livestock. I have no idea what kind of comfrey I’m
currently growing, although I’m pretty sure it’s a Russian
variety since it
doesn’t set seed — it’s been passed down in my family for generation
and didn’t come with a name attached.
Alan McDonald prefers
Bocking 4 due to its higher protein levels and greater palatability by
animals, and I’ve decided to buy one plant to try out (and split for
later pasture plantings if the chickens like the flavor). There
seem to be several sources for Bocking 4 online, including Coe’s
Farm, and Richter’s. Despite not being the
cheapest source, Coe’s Comfrey seemed the most knowledgeable (which
means the least likely to be selling another variety by mistake), so
I’ve ordered a plant from them. I’ll report back in a year or two
once the plant is established enough to test on our flock.
with clean water.