The birds love the Comfrey!

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Ra_, Aug 19, 2018.

  1. Ra_

    Ra_ Songster

    Jan 25, 2010
    North Central Florida
    I planted the root cuttings on July 6th. The earliest ones broke ground in 11 days.
    All came up within 2 weeks. Here they are in 3 gallon grow bags 6 weeks after planting the roots.
    I took the 3 smallest plants and they are now in big 10 gallon pots.
    Fertilized with aged chicken manure.
    Before taking this pic I took a few leaves from each plant.
    I offered them to my chickens and they LOVED it!
    The Bocking 4 variety is the way to go.


    Here is some info on Comfrey from an article I wrote a few months ago:

    The leaves can grow up to 2 feet long in the right conditions.
    You can chop the entire plant 5 or more times each season and it will grow back.
    Feed the leaves to your chickens, rabbits, ducks, turkeys, goats, pigs, sheep or cows.
    You can also grow quantities of Comfrey and dry the leaves for Winter use.
    Animals enjoy it either way and even dried, it retains its very high protein content.

    There is a common variety of Comfrey known as True Comfrey but most people use a Russian variety that can’t produce viable seed. This is because Comfrey grows TOO well and people want to maintain control of it.

    Even with the Bocking varieties, they propagate easily through root cuttings. You can start with one plant and in 2 years, have a thousand plants if you wish. Bocking 14 is the most popular variety but I have recently planted Bocking 4, which is said to be even more palatable to animals.

    Comfrey is also renowned for its medicinal properties. It can be made into a poultice that helps healing with ailments that reach all the way into the bones. Comfrey fell out of favor in the 80’s when an Australian report surfaced claiming that it’s alkaloids are harmful if ingested.

    I don’t know of any people who are eating Comfrey but many people now dispute those findings and many people report making Comfrey a large part of the diet for their livestock without manifesting any ill effects. According to the book, The Safety of Comfrey, by J.A Pembrey, “there appear to be no cases, in medical history or veterinary records, of humans or animals, showing clinical symptoms, of pyrrolizidine alkaloid poisoning from the consumption of comfrey.”


    From the site – Simple Unhooked Living –
    “Foster Savage, who takes credit for introducing comfrey into Australia in 1954, fed it to his stock in great quantities (and ate quite a bit of it himself.) He found that milk production increased dramatically in his cows, with the bonus of thick cream. He also fed his pigs as much comfrey as they could eat and the quality of his meat became legendary. His butcher remarked that he had never seen pigs with such healthy livers.

    Comfrey is available as seed, or for the Bocking varieties, as root cuttings, live plants or just the crowns of newly emerging leaves.
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2018
  2. Ra_

    Ra_ Songster

    Jan 25, 2010
    North Central Florida
    I have read that the reason more farmers don't grow Comfrey for their animals on a large scale is because grasses can be baled and they will dry without problems most times but Comfrey would rot if you tried to do that.
    It requires a more elaborate drying procedure.
  3. Folly's place

    Folly's place Free Ranging

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    It's wonderful to be optimistic about feeding anything green in any amounts, to anyone, but it also pays to be careful! There's a difference between nibbling an occasional leaf, and eating a lot of something because it's offered as a food source.
    Even if it might be safe for someone's pigs and cattle, who knows about chickens? Where's the research?
    My flock is going to make do without it here.
    AlderCreekFarms and snow5164 like this.
  4. Pensmaster

    Pensmaster Free Ranging

    Jan 10, 2014
    Northern California
    Agree, with the being careful. Mine go through a plant a weekend. Which ends up being 2 five gallon buckets for 30 birds. However they also get their normal feed. I have 12 plants and it’s an endless supply. It does go dormant here during winter but comes right back.
    It’s supposed to do real well in the compost pile but I haven’t tried it yet. I’ve used it as a tea for plants and it does dissolve quickly.
    As to it’s advantages or disadvantages I don’t know. Hasn’t hurt them any, however I’ve only used it for a year.
    Also feed duck weed when I get it collected.
    If I was able to free range I wouldn’t bother with either.
  5. snow5164

    snow5164 Crowing

    May 16, 2015
    If you look up one thing on the internet you will find the exact opposite opinions listed right after each other....

    I’ve never grown it, nor will I .like stinging nettle there might be good things to use it for , but I’m too busy to be so careful , I’ll stick to grass and dandelion greens E1DDD077-1590-45BC-9761-2CB41415C938.jpeg
  6. Ra_

    Ra_ Songster

    Jan 25, 2010
    North Central Florida
    I've not seen evidence of an animal harmed by Comfrey.
    All the testimonials I've read are by people who've had great results, including people who examine the livers whenever they harvest a chicken, looking for irregularities.

    Anyone wishing to do their own in-depth research on Comfrey can try the book
    Comfrey Report: The Story of the World's Fastest Protein Builder and Herbal Healer
    by Lawrence D. Hills
    Director/Secretary of the Henry Doubleday Research Association.

    It is out of print and can be found on eBay for $90, Amazon for $100
    or you can just join and download it for free
    RWBP likes this.
  7. Ra_

    Ra_ Songster

    Jan 25, 2010
    North Central Florida
    Taken from the book...
    Comfrey notes:

    Seed takes about four years to make a plant as good as one a year old from a root cutting. /10

    E.V. Stephenson fed it extensively to race horses and pigs for 36 years until his death in 1974 when the stud was closed down. /12

    Mr. L. Willing of Victoria's cows received approximately 30
    pounds per day. The comfrey was fed just before milking and there was no taint to the milk and no bloat occurred. /28

    Comfrey is unique in the quantity of crude protein it can produce from an acre, in relation to the very low proportion of fiber. This makes it fit the digestion of pigs, poultry and human beings /34

    Comfrey is itself a "course manure" converter, for such waste products as farm slurries and digests sludge from sewage treatment plants. Every developing African country needs these a hundred times more urgently than it needs a state airline, to destroy the parasites of Bilharzia /34

    protein to fiber ratios for comfrey is far ahead of all the other fodders with 2.27-1 compared with 0.88-1 for the best pasture grass. This is why the pig and poultry keepers are the keenest on comfrey. /34

    Total Protein %
    Comfrey Flour 34.6
    Cheese 26.80
    Lentils 24.52
    Lima Beans 21.34
    Cashew Nuts 18.93
    Walnuts 16.31
    Brussel sprouts 4.11

    Of importance is also the quality of a protein:
    (of Tryptophane, needed for vision)
    Comfrey is a very good source, more than a third better than cashew nuts, the runner-up; more than three times as good as lentils and twice as good as cheese
    Comfrey is also rich in Lysine & Methionine /38

    vitamin B12 (comfrey is the only land plant so far known to extract this from the soil) /38

    Comfrey is so rich in potassium that it has about the same potash balance as a compound chemical potato fertilizer.
    Also rich in Calcium and Manganese /40

    Unlike many farm crops, comfrey will take raw feedlot manure or
    slurry, battery poultry manure, fresh pig manure /50

    There is
    no record of a really good crop of comfrey grown with chemical fertilizers /51

    A comfrey field builds up to maximum yield in its third or fourth year and keeps in full production for about twelve. /51

    Mrs. P.B. Greer would buy beef calves in Colchester market, bidding for those that were scouring badly when no other farmer would make an offer, and taking them home to cure in the traditional way. She fed them chopped comfrey foliage in their bucket meal and the Allantoin stopped the trouble as it has for generations of good stockmen. /53

    (Numerous accounts of comfrey being tested on cattle all over the world are given.)
    In Japan, Mr. Sazuki's Comfrey experiment comprised 1/3 to 1/2 by weight of all food taken. Health of all cows improved and milk yield increased with comfrey. /56

    Page numbers are shown after each note.
    I haven't gotten to the chapter on poultry yet.
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2018
  8. snow5164

    snow5164 Crowing

    May 16, 2015
    Now you know there are two sides to every story and this book by the title alone is going to preach the benefits only of “the herbal healer “ ,

    You can find books , articles to support anything these days , I need to see the good and the bad before I’m convinced .

    Let’s agree to disagree ,
    Comfreys not for me
  9. Ra_

    Ra_ Songster

    Jan 25, 2010
    North Central Florida
    I'm now speaking to those who may be interested.
  10. Ra_

    Ra_ Songster

    Jan 25, 2010
    North Central Florida
    Regarding racehorses

    Comfrey was a "health food" for horses traditionally used by gypsies to put a gloss on the coats of bad bargains. /57

    Green comfrey plus wheat cavings (to provide balancing starch
    equivalent as digestible fiber) is a complete substitute for hay of the quality fed in racing stables /57

    Comfrey reduced the chances of having to 'scratch" a beast off-color from a digestive upset, and many trainers include it as a secret ingredient in racing mash. /59

    Four pounds a day training ration was worked out by Harry Peacock who trained Good Brandy when it was one of the many comfrey fed horses to run in the British Derby. /59

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