Notes from Windward: #67
Nikki describes her work at making rabbit feed
Much of sustainable agriculture at this altitude and latitude centers around the production of grasses of various sorts. Also, an important part of our research effort involves finding ways to turn what others consider waste into resources that we can use in support of our life support systems.
An example would be the conversion of the dust that falls out of bales of hay as they're moved around and opened up to be fed. To catch that dust, which is mostly the highly nutritious alfalfa leaves, we've installed a pond liner under the bales in our hay barn, which allows us to sweep it up and compound it into rabbit feed.
Here's a report from Nikki on the fine work she did on that project this summer.
I took 400g alfalfa dust, about 350ml water, 45g molasses, 2g salt and 8g oil and mixed them all up, so that all the alfalfa was evenly moistened. I then added 100g of oats and tossed that, then 150g cornmeal and mixed that till all was mixed very well. I had thought that a meat grinder would be able to cut the sticks and bigger pieces of the alfalfa, but was wrong; the grinder got clogged and wouldn’t work. The food processor did likewise. I then went through the mixture and pulled out all of the bigger pieces and ran part of the mixture through the food processor but then decided that the mixture was probably the right consistency, so just patted it into the dehydrator and let it dehydrate about 24 hours. It came out crumbly and wouldn’t stay together if you weren’t careful with it. But the bunnies really enjoyed it.
The next batch, I doubled the amount of molasses, added less water and made the alfalfa more fine, almost a flour. It turned out just crumbs, no hunks at all. And the bunnies didn’t like it as much.
Third times a charm, right? This time I had 200g alfalfa, 200ml water, 50g cornmeal, 25g molasses, 8g oil and a pinch of salt. I divided this mixture into half, adding 80ml of water and dehydrating one. The other half, I put into a glass pie pan and cooked it in the microwave for 2 ˝ minutes. Then I turned it onto a drying rack, drizzled molasses on top and set it out to dry. This half turned out the best, staying together pretty good. The dehydrated half turned out just like the first batch.
Fourth try: I put 50g alfalfa, 2T cornmeal and a pinch of salt into a food processor and chop it really fine. I mixed 3t molasses, 2t oil and 7T water and poured it into the food processor while it was running. I then patted it into a dehydrator and drizzled molasses on top. This turned out very crumbly, with only the drizzled molasses keeping it in clumps.
Thus far, I have observed that the bigger the alfalfa pieces are, the more the finished product stays together. Also, if you drizzle molasses on top, it holds the feed together, acting as a kind of glue. I have also found out that the food processor doesn’t chop wet alfalfa, no matter if there is long pieces or not but will chop dry alfalfa fairly good.
The fifth batch had two different tries, A and B. A had 4c alfalfa, 3T molasses, 3T oil, 1/4c cornmeal, 1c water and 1/2c bread crumbs. B was exactly the same except for it only had 1/2c water. With both of these, I microwaved for 4 ˝ minutes, drizzled molasses on both sides and placed on drying rack. Both turned out pretty good except for they were kind of hard once dry but stayed together beautifully. I stopped with this because the rabbits loved it, it stayed together and was very easy to make.
Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 67