To supplement the diets of our animals we harvest mesquite leaves. It is not easy, but it gives the goats and sheep greens. Now we raise Navajo Churro Sheep, and they eat the natural vegetation of the southwest. Goats will eat anything. It is important that you understand when you decide to raise animals to have animals that will work for you and the environment. Especially if you cannot get hay or afford hay(think crises or worst case scenario).
The mesquite bush has thorns like no other! If you click to enlarge the picture you can see for yourself the thorns! Oh to step on these thorns is horrible... These pictures are from when we went a few miles east of us to gather the leaves, because we try not to use the leaves from our mesquite in the winter and spring, until the mesquite comes in full bloom. Anyway, these leaves are so amazing to the animals. They love the leaves!(In the summer and fall- we tether the animals to clear the mesquite without killing the bush.)
Here is my daughter collecting some of the leaves. It does seem tedious- I need to be blunt here: if the world changes like many preppers believe this is how life will be. Do you understand that life may be hard-but the work is worth it? You should understand the realities of prepping. Being prepared must include the understanding that you will work probably like you never have before. America has been very good to all of us-same with our Canadian friends too. We have come very far and have distanced ourselves a good deal from the agrarian lifestyle. The agrarian lifestyle is what could save millions of people from starvation, right now- today. We need to learn skills that will afford us the opportunity to carry on.
First there is nothing wrong with hard work. Second, stop looking to the stores first, but your surroundings to meet some of the needs that you may have. Third, animals do not need all the stuff that the local feed store tells you. I posted on my farm blog, a woman pushing her dogs in a stroller! No kidding. Folks we have got to recommit to the realities of life.
Here is the lovely mesquite. We have about 300-400 on our property- which we harvest the mesquite bean and the leaves. The kids have made extensive trails throughout the mesquite- which someone unfamiliar with our land would struggle to navigate. You see the mesquite when it is bushy and grows close together is very difficult to walk through without getting poked. Many of my area neighbors clear this bush as waste. I guess I should not be surprised at how conditioned we as a society have become. Once the land is cleared the soil is left(a sandy style soil) that blows all over daily. You see like in the Dust Bowl era, we need to appreciate the environment we live in. You need to hold the soil down, and one way is via native vegetation. If you wish to clear the land go slowly. When we began putting up pens for the animals, we slowly removed and cleared a small amount of mesquite.
Please rethink your neck of the woods. Grow things that will grow there without an act of God to grow. Learn to harvest native grasses etc for your animals. Use your surroundings for you, and not what we have been taught all the while keeping up with the Jones's.