Kale is well-recognised by nutritionists as a superfood because of its high vitamin and antioxidant content, its low calorie count….and the fact that it is quite delicious! For example, it contains more than four times as much vitamin C as that other tasty superfood, spinach.
And because we want to give our animals the best feed possible during the winter months, we grow a lot of kale for them, and they really enjoy it. At the end of July we ploughed and drilled Danes Field, one of our largest fields, with kale seed, and it is now starting to germinate. Hopefully it will soon be growing strongly.
We sow a mixture of “Maris Kestrel” and “Pinfold” kale sourced from Cotswold Seeds, a leading seed merchant. Using the two different types of kale means that we produce a mix of green leaves and tall-growing, thick stems for our herd to feed on. Experts tell us that kale produces more feed per acre than swedes, forage rape, turnips or stubble turnips.
We “strip graze” the kale with an electric fence in winter so that there is less wastage through trampling and each of the cows in the herd can feed easily. This is usually topped up with bales of hay so that they can enjoy a mixed diet.
We usually start feeding our cattle on kale at the end of December so let us hope that in the next five months the weather is kind to us so that we have a good supply of this superfood for them to eat. Certainly in the first week we have had a good start and have had plenty of rain to get the seed germinating!