Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Anyone for a Mangel?

There is a feed crop for animals that has been grown since the Middle Ages, but not widely known (or grown) in the U.S. today.  It's the lowly mangel, and I've put in an experimental garden bed of them this year.


Mangels are a root crop.  Root crops generally do well in our area so I thought I'd try to grow some for use this winter as a supplemental feed for our chickens.


Supposedly they can grow up to twenty pounds and two feet long.  (Oh, my.)  This one I pulled from the garden a couple of days ago is about the size of a medium-large potato.  I doubt any of mine will reach the twenty pound mark, but if we are fortunate enough to get a long fall this year, I'm sure they will bulk up a bit more than this.

Although a copious quantity of information on the mangel does not seem to be readily available, I have read that they have long been considered excellent feed for a variety of livestock including cattle, pigs, sheep, rabbits, goats and chickens.

The mangel seeds look much like chard or beet or turnip seeds as do the greens and roots.  Like turnip or beet greens, the leaves are edible by humans as is the root when harvested young.  One source suggested mangels can be boiled and mashed like potatoes.

Nutritionally they are lower in sugar content than beets and contain more protein.  They're touted as a valuable energy source.

They even have a history in jolly old England of being used to brew a potent alcoholic beverage.

So if you're looking for a good energy source or nice ale to serve your livestock with their daily ration of grain, mangels might be worth looking into.

34 comments:

Sunnybrook Farm said...

I thought they were the same as sugar beets but they look different. The leaves probably make good greens.

Leigh said...

Your mangels look great! I grew them last year and have to say that the goats loved them, both leaves and chopped roots. Mine never got as huge as touted either! But then, I have clay soils. I left a few to go to seed, but nothing yet. I need to get a hustle on and plant some more.

Carolyn said...

OMG OMG OMG OMG!! I'll trade you ANY of my seeds for some mangle seeds! I've been on & off researching them and haven't got my hands on any seeds!
pleasepleasepleasepleasepleaseplease
(or tell me where you ordered yours)
pleasepleasepleaseplease

DFW said...

Good information Mama Pea! Thanks for sharing. I've pinned it for future information. I have so much future information that it will take me a long time into the future to re-learn everything!

Mama Pea said...

Sunnybrook Farm - Nope, sugar beets and mangels are not the same critter. I believe sugar beets contain about 5 times as much sugar as mangels. The leaves do look like they would make good cooked greens, don't they?

Mama Pea said...

Leigh - Good to hear you had favorable results with your mangels. Wish I had known about them when we had our goats! I had really good germination on mine this cold, cold spring so I'm sure you won't have any trouble with a late planting in your area.

Mama Pea said...

Carolyn - Now how can I ignore that request?? I will send you some seeds asap. (I bought a good quantity of them.) I'll let you know when they're in the mail.

Mama Pea said...

DFW - Okay, short story. A very good friend (who is 82) and I were talking a week or so ago and she was a bit depressed because she'd just gotten word that three people (her age) had died within the last two weeks. She made some comment to the effect of what did she expect at her age. I gave her a pep talk about no matter what your age or stage in life there are ALWAYS new things to learn or "firsts" for you to experience. And I believe that to be true. Look at all the info you're gathering for "future information!" All the things we want to pursue or try when we have the time. If not planting mangels (!), it will be something else!!

You're very welcome.

Tombstone Livestock said...

Ok, so where did you get your seeds?

I have thought about getting turnip seeds and adding them to pasture seed when I spread out the mountain of manure I have been accumulating. I have some beets and carrot seeds leftover that did not get planted that I thought I would toss in also. But I have a least one 5 acre pasture I would like to put some kind of root crop in to break up the soil.

Mama Pea said...

Tombstone Livestock - Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. They are Mammoth Red Mangel seeds. I got 1/4 lb. for $8.00. Cheaper, I'm sure, if you bought a large quantity like for your 5 acre planting.

I've read you can plant them in a pasture and when they come up, your livestock will first eat the greens (right out of the ground) and then the roots. (The roots stick a good way up out of the soil so the animals don't have too much trouble getting to them.)

DFW said...

Double double thank you Mama Pea! do you want to move south & help me in my "Retirement Years"?

Mama Pea said...

DFW - But if I did that I'd have to bring MY list of wanna/gonna dos along with and between the two of us, we'd be so busy bouncing new ideas off of each other we'd never get anything done! ;o)

Sparkless said...

I've seen those on a show from Britain. They were used for livestock feed and you have to shred them up before you feed them to livestock. I think the show was called Victorian Farm or Edwardian Farm. They sounds like a good root crop.

tpals said...

I've read of mangels being used for pig fodder in Scotland but you're the first in the states that I've seen to give them a try.

Mama Pea said...

Sparkless - Yes, shred them or at least cut them up a bit. I have on my "list" for this winter to get Victorian Farm or Edwardian Farm or whatever it's called from Netflix. I'll watch for the mangels!

Mama Pea said...

tpals - Like all that other good stuff that has gone by the wayside and been forgotten here in America, I think many places in Europe still raise the old-fashioned, proven crops that remain mostly unadulterated.

Sunnybrook Farm said...

I grew sugar beets last year and when chopped up, the calves loved them. I probably should have brushed their teeth though.

Mama Pea said...

Sunnybrook Farm - Or at least made them take a big drink of water, swish it around in their mouths and then spit it out.

Sunnybrook Farm said...

Believe it or not our horse does that. Washes his mouth out and sometimes will open his lips and show his teeth to me like he is all proud of himself.

Freedom Acres Farm said...

We grew mangels last year for fodder for our cows and they were huge!!! This year not so much. They are about the size of potatoes only. Last year we had some the size of footballs!! And were they heavy! Granted this year we planted them in a new garden plot that hadn't been amended so that's the main reason they aren't doing well. We ordered our seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds in Missouri. Love them!! their website is rareseeds.com We learned about Mangels from Herrick Kimbal's blog http://agrariannation.blogspot.com/

Mama Pea said...

Sunnybrook Farm - That is really funny! (His mama obviously raised him right.)

Mama Pea said...

Freedom Acres - Yep, same place I got mine. Johnny's Selected Seeds also has them but Baker's was a much better price.

Did you let your cows "graze" on them or harvest them and feed out that way?

Stephanie said...

I actually have heard of them! I have watched several of the BBC shows, such as Victorian Farm, where they use these, and sugar beets, for livestock feed. So cool, and I bet your girls will love them.

Susan said...

This was such an informational post (and comments, too!) I first thought that you were doing your laundry by hand in a wash tub - isn't a mangle (dif spelling, of course) what one uses to squeeze water out of the wet clothes? I digress - I think I might try my hand at these, too. It would be nice to add to the sheep/goats/chickens over the winter. Mama Pea, you are a veritable fountain of knowledge!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Am from the UK. The programme is the Victorian Farm, and you can find all 12 episodes on YouTube.

Think the mangel bit is one of the earlier episodes, as the cover the winter months.

Mama Pea said...

Stephanie - Okay, so Victorian Farm is on my list for this winter. I know I'll enjoy it.

Mama Pea said...

Susan - And just to confuse matters, a mangle (as opposed to a mangel) is also a huge flat ironing type thing used to press (as in iron) linens such as sheets, tablecloths, etc. I remember a couple of my mom's friends had them in their homes, but you don't hear of anyone having one today.

I am not a fountain of knowledge, veritable or otherwise. Information seems to flow out of my head at a very high speed!

Mama Pea said...

Anonymous - Thanks for the information! Much appreciated.

Freedom Acres Farm said...

We harvested them and kept them in our cold closet. We fed them as a treat during milking time each day. They lasted until early March! This year - our neighbors cows "grazed" them for us! Isn't that sweet of them? NOT! The stupid neighbor never even apologized. Some are coming back and I'm still hopeful but they nearly decimated my cow's fodder for the year!

Jenyfer Matthews said...

LOL - I have a friend who has a small mangle in her sewing room to press the scarves she makes and sells. And Stephen King once wrote a short story that included a mangle that started killing people!! There you have it - my accumulated knowledge of mangles. Now I can add your mangels to my list :)

odiie said...

Hey-I've got those in this year, too. I sowed a patch about 20x20. The weeds are in there too, but the mangels are looking good. Ours aren't as large as yours are. Hoping to use them for chickens, cows, goats and pigs this year along with an abundant pumpkin crop.
From Glory Farm,
Rhonda

Mama Pea said...

Freedom Acres Farm - Can't you just hear the conversation amongst your cows in March when the mangels no longer showed up. "Hey, where are those munchy, crunchy, sweet things we've been getting all winter? I really like those!"

As for your neighbors cows and his insensitivity . . . arrgh! Some people sure aren't responsible OR polite anymore. Hope you still get something out of the mangel crops.

Mama Pea said...

Jen - You are a wealth of information! ;o)

Mama Pea said...

Rhonda - I'm almost certain we won't be getting any pumpkins this year. The poor things are just starting to form now . . . about golf ball size. How pathetic is that? Sure hope you mangels size up. From all accounts, you animals will really love them. (Especially mashed with butter and a little salt and pepper! ;o] )