The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Thumbs down for mangels


It's getting on toward the end of the rye-planting season, which meant I needed to make a decision about that bed of big, beautiful mangels. The trouble is, my spoiled goats refused even an aged root this week. And my unspoiled mother politely turned down a second helping of the fodder beets. I guess they're going on the compost pile!

Sprouting rye

When might mangels be a good fit for your homestead? Less finicky livestock --- like cows and sheep --- might eat them. And I also wonder if they might not work as a soil-improving cover crop a bit like oilseed radishes.

But, for now, I'm moving mangels onto the list of "tried it once, won't try it again." At least I got some pretty pictures out of the experiment!

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Just wondering, did you try chopping your mangles before giving them to the goats? I find my goats won't eat any squash unless they are chopped into easily chewable peices.

I remember reading/seeing that farmers chopped their mangles and other root crops for their animals.

Comment by BW Mon Nov 2 07:38:26 2015

Here in the Netherlands, mangels are usually not given to livestock fresh, but are chopped up (without the greens, they contain too much oxalic acid for some livestock) and fermented in silage first.

Maybe that will make them more palatable to your spoiled goats? The Dutch website were I got this info from also warned against giving goats too much mangel; apparently it can give them diarrea.

Comment by Roland_Smith Mon Nov 2 08:19:27 2015
I did not like the diarrhea aspect with my cow, not because of cleanup but because diarrhea isn't what you want to see in an animal. Aging and then chopping worked, but I had no place to store them to keep them from freezing, and I don't feed roots when I have grass available, so mangels were a no go here for sure. A quaint idea that journalists like to wax poetic about. Carrots and parsnips are my milk cow root staples now, and they keep in the row were they are planted with a little work hilling them with soil before freezing temps.
Comment by NIta Mon Nov 2 08:47:58 2015
There seems to be lots about mangel-wurzels online, as feed for cows and pigs in Great Britain--check the index of that book I gave you...!?
Comment by adrianne Mon Nov 2 10:41:56 2015

BW --- Yep, I chopped them pretty finely. Abigail won't eat any squash or roots unless they're chopped. (Did I mention she's spoiled? :-) ) When I tried to trick her by mixing the chopped, aged mangels in with carrots and alfalfa pellets, she actually turned up her nose at the whole thing.

Roland --- Mark was just saying this morning that with all the sugars that are presumably in the beets, they should be a good choice for fermenting. He was talking about vodka for humans, though. (We don't actually drink much of anything, so it was more of an academic thought problem than a plan.)

Nita --- Abigail definitely loves carrots, but I'd say my goat staples at the moment are sweet potatoes and butternut squash. I do have to store them inside, but they're so easy to grow here in huge quantities and she seems to like them fine. Plus the squash seeds are supposed to be a natural dewormer. Carrots are a little twitchier to get germinating during the summer if my planting date matches a dry spell, and we're too cold to store them in the ground, so they're just a little harder for us. I think you're 100% on track with this: "A quaint idea that journalists like to wax poetic about."

Mom --- Nothing in the index, but I have seen them listed in several other books. They seem to have fallen out of favor for a reason, though....

Comment by anna Mon Nov 2 12:23:37 2015
mangelshine :-)
Comment by Roland_Smith Mon Nov 2 15:21:48 2015

You could probably ferment sugarbeet very well. But I can't imagine the end product tasting very well.

There was a sugarbeet processing plant about 4 miles from the place I grew up in. The sugar extraction process gives of a nasty smell. It smells like sugar with a mouldy and fetid overtone.

From people who've tried eating them I understand that the taste is nothing to write home about either.

Comment by Roland_Smith Wed Nov 4 16:57:15 2015

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