Dialogue with farmers who feed sheep with "Canadian goldenrod": I heard that the high protein content indirectly reduces the cost, and no adverse reactions have been found in the sheep

author:New Hunan

Recently, Chen Chengjun, a lake sheep farmer in Jiujiang, Jiangxi Province, became angry because he used "Canadian goldenrod" as feed, almost solving the big trouble caused by this invasive alien species.

Mr. Chen said he started doing so in the first half of the year and now consumes 22 tonnes of Canadian goldenrod a day on his sheep farm for food and processing alone.

According to public information, in 1935, Canadian goldenrod was introduced to China as an ornamental plant, and an average plant can produce more than 20,000 seeds per year, with strong reproductive ability and invasion. In November 2021, a Canadian goldenrod attacked Zhengzhou, Luoyang, Xinxiang, Wuhan and other places.

In the early days of feeding, Chen Chengjun mixed the plant with wild bargrass to the sheep and found that there were no side effects, and later, the county technicians specially came to his sheep farm to see, and also went to Huzhou, Zhejiang to investigate the same practice, and found that there was indeed no problem. So he won subsidies from the town government to harvest and reuse the plant.

He had heard that Canadian goldenrod had a higher protein content than straw and straw and was more nutritious for sheep. Now, sheep farms have reduced the amount of concentrate feed used and also reduced costs.

Dialogue with Chen Chengjun:

【01】 Feeding lake sheep with Canadian goldenrod for more than a month, no adverse reactions were found

Reporter: How did you come up with the idea of using a Canadian yellow flower to feed the lake sheep?

Chen Chengjun: This Canadian goldenrod, which was originally very rare on our side, has increased since last year. In the first half of this year, we encouraged cotton planting in Hukou County, and I cut wild bargrass (a grass) to feed the sheep when the land was cleared. Some fields had Canadian goldenrods, mixed with wild barberry, and at that time they were given to the sheep in one piece.

Reporter: Aren't you worried that it will have an impact on the lake sheep?

Chen Chengjun: Because I hadn't fed this thing to the sheep before, I still had scruples in my heart at that time, and I didn't dare to let it eat too much, so I kept mixing wild barberries to feed it. Later, I found out that the owner of a sheep farm in Huzhou, Zhejiang Province, also fed the sheep to eat Canadian goldenrod, they said that this was completely fine, plus I also mixed feeding for a while, and indeed found no problem.

Last month, the staff of our county protection station, they also heard about the use of Canadian goldenrod to feed sheep in Huzhou, Zhejiang, but they were not at ease, so they specially came to my sheep farm to see, and also went to Huzhou, Zhejiang to investigate, to see if the sheep can eat Canadian goldenrod. Later, I found that there was indeed no problem, so I mentioned it to the town, hoping to harvest a Canadian goldenrod and let me transport it back to my sheep farm for sheep feed. The town also thought this idea was good, so they sent me some subsidies to harvest and use them. By October, when the Canadian goldenrod bloomed, everyone recognized it, and it was easy to harvest, so I started harvesting in large quantities to feed the sheep.

Reporter: When you first started feeding, how did the lake sheep react?

Chen Chengjun: When we first started harvesting in the first half of the year, when we mixed with wild barberry, the sheep didn't eat much, because the Canadian yellow flower tasted a bit bitter. After eating a meal or two, they got used to the taste and loved it. This is normal for sheep, even if you originally fed it fresh grass, suddenly replaced with lightly fermented grass, it will not eat much for the first meal, you have to get used to it slowly.

Reporter: I have eaten for more than a month now, do the lake sheep have any adverse reactions?

Chen Chengjun: Not at all. Ever since I fed Canadian goldenrod, I've been watching the reaction of the flock every day. I checked the information, Canadian goldenrod has the effect of clearing heat and detoxification, so I am more afraid that it will cause the sheep to miscarry, and I will pay more attention to the reaction of the flock in this regard, and other aspects should be fine.

Dialogue with farmers who feed sheep with "Canadian goldenrod": I heard that the high protein content indirectly reduces the cost, and no adverse reactions have been found in the sheep

Canadian goldenrod harvesting site. Video screenshot of Jiangsu Radio and Television Station

【02】Feeding, processing and cultivating edible fungi, the sheep farm consumes 22 tons of Canadian goldenrod every day

Reporter: What was the staple food of lake sheep in the past?

Chen Chengjun: In the first two years, I mainly raised lake sheep because the scale was relatively small. Then it started captivity last year, when it started feeding straw, corn stalks, which were also recovered from farms' fields, and weeds like wild barbel grass.

I recycle straw to be considered to be a better piece of straw, not only can be fed to sheep, but I also use it to raise edible fungi, or sell it to the outside world. I have been in the sheep industry for more than ten years, and I studied animal husbandry and veterinary medicine when I went to school, so many of my classmates graduated from cattle farms and sheep farms, and the straw I recycled was easier to sell.

Reporter: When did you start raising lake sheep? Now how many pounds of Canadian goldenrod does each lake sheep eat a day?

Chen Chengjun: I have been raising lake sheep for five or six years, and now there are more than 600 of them. Each lake sheep eats six to seven pounds of Canadian goldenrod a day. In the case of the entire sheep farm, fresh feeding alone consumes about two tons a day.

Reporter: In addition to feeding lake sheep with fresh Canadian goldenrod, is there any other way to use it?

Chen Chengjun: Because I harvest a relatively large amount now, every day I have to crush and knead the remaining Canadian yellow flowers after feeding the lake sheep, add starter culture and water, and then pack them with film to make silage. When it gets cold in winter, or there is no fresh one to feed the lake sheep, silage is used.

In addition, when feeding the lake sheep, the older Canadian goldenrod, its pole is relatively hard, the lake sheep do not eat, it will be left. These hard poles can replace grass as culture material for edible fungi.

Reporter: How many tons of Canadian goldenrod are processed a day?

Chen Chengjun: My baling and wrapping machine can process about three tons in an hour, and now it can actually process about 20 tons a day. I saved the extra for the winter and could sell it. If you don't have enough to eat in winter, you can also use straw and corn stalks instead, but silage with Canadian goldenrod is better.

Dialogue with farmers who feed sheep with "Canadian goldenrod": I heard that the high protein content indirectly reduces the cost, and no adverse reactions have been found in the sheep

Workers in Chen Chengjun's factory make silage from Canadian goldenrod Photo/interviewee

【03】Canadian goldenrod has a higher protein content than straw, and silage has begun to be sold

Reporter: The main range of harvesting of Canadian goldenrod at present?

Chen Chengjun: When the large-scale harvest first started last month, it was in my neighborhood and in several surrounding villages. Now that everything near my home has been cut, it has been expanded to the whole town.

Reporter: What has changed the cost of farming now?

Chen Chengjun: After I started feeding Canadian goldenrod, I mainly increased the shipping cost, because some places are far away, and I have to find someone to pull it back. But the government also has corresponding subsidies, so my cost does not increase. Moreover, Canadian goldenrod has a higher protein content than straw, which is better and more nutritious for the flock. In addition to feeding roughage such as straw and straw, we also fed concentrated feed such as wheat bran, soybean meal and corn to supplement the flock with more nutrition. Now that Canadian goldenrod is fed, the amount of concentrate used has been reduced, which has reduced costs.

Reporter: What is the daily schedule now?

Chen Chengjun: During the day, I will ask someone to cut a Canadian yellow flower, and then transport it back to feed the sheep and pack it. After returning, observe the movements of the sheep to see if there is any situation, and then go to look after the silage machine. In addition, it is time to sell straw during the day, because now that the straw has been packed, it is time to start selling or arranging for delivery.

Now, silage made from Canadian goldenrod is also available for sale. My philosophy is that feeding sheep should not be too single, when someone comes to me to buy straw, I will recommend that they also buy a little Canadian goldenrod silage, mixed with nutrition will be better. Or buy some corn on the cob and feed the sheep a little more heartily, just like our people's four dishes and one soup.

Reporter: If there is another next year, will it continue to be harvested to feed and process?

Chengjun Chen: Absolutely, but I prefer not next year. There are more than 20,000 seeds per Canadian goldenrod, and we are cutting them now in the hope of preventing it from spreading. But because this year is too dry, some places can't uproot, so the fastest and easiest way is to cut it first, and then remove the roots.

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