Fodder beets are super easy to grow!
Grow in your garden along with your other crops.
You can somewhat stagger planting times in certain regions. We have a short growing season, so plant all our beets in the spring.
The beet variety we grow needs 4-6″ between plants (can also be thinned throughout the season)
TIP: Most so-called “Mangel” beets are sold with the wrong definition – probably the original description from the 1880’s seed catalogue! My guess is that the current seed being saved has somehow been corrupted or in-bred because my official “Mangel” beets only grow maybe the size of a fist, not the giants as proclaimed. So, be careful to match the description with the photo – or call the company to verify size. I later bought and tried a FODDER beet not listed as “Mangel” and got HUGE beets (see photo above). Here’s where I got mine: http://www.everwilde.com/store/Red-Mammoth-Fodder-Beet-Seeds.html
How many beets should you grow?
- A simple calculation is one mature beet per feeding per cow. Our garden area is limited, so we ration our pulp by only using it for fresh cows (cows that just calved) or sick cows.
How to store or preserve beets?
- Mature beets are shredded in a food processor- for use fresh or for drying.
- Another option is to cover and insulate for winter use (cut off tops, cover with a layer of soil, then a layer of straw, and top with a tarp. Dig up when ready to use.)
- We have also dug up and stored the roots in a cellar, they were still good when we used them in December.
A food processor shreds a large amount of beets in only seconds – a worthwhile investment if you don’t have a root shredder.
To dry, we used our commercial sized food dehydrator that dries 10 racks of pulp in 8-12 hours.
Reconstitute with molasses water
(cold water = give 12 hours to soak, warm water = use in 30 minutes)
Note: When “teaching” a cow to enjoy beet pulp and other succulent crops, you may need to feed mostly grain with a little pulp, then gradually increase the % of pulp until you can get them to eat straight pulp and enjoy it! This is a good trick to teach right away, so that if your cow becomes sick, she will already be accustomed to the taste of beet pulp.
Our “fresh cow” concoction consists of beet pulp, grain, molasses, yeast, ACV, and Vitamin E capsules all mixed together. The cows love it. 🙂