Wordless Wednesday – “Healthy Hay”!

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Sainfoin (from Old French sain foin meaning “Healthy Hay”) used to be an important, nutritious forage eaten by workhorses, cattle and sheep. Sadly, it gradually fell out of used with the advent of modern farming practices: tractors, fertilizers, pesticides etc.

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I came across this large patch in the fields behind our house. Just imagine whole tracts of its pretty pink flowers … next to a field of flax perhaps! Nowadays it is typically found on limey grassland, agricultural land and wasteland.

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Sainfoin is a short-lived perennial herb from the legume family, grown as a grass/legume mix (rather than pure crop). It flowers from May to September

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It has several health benefits as fodder for livestock, particularly that it is a natural wormer and reduces bloating. It also improves protein absorption … ultimately leading to faster weight gain.

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It is adored by bees. It’s nectar has been observed to attract up to ten times more bees than clover! Moreover, those bees go on the produce more honey. πŸ™‚ What a shame we don’t still grow it! 😦

More Info on Sainfoin

About Frogend_dweller

Living in the damp middle of nowhere
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13 Responses to Wordless Wednesday – “Healthy Hay”!

  1. Modern practices are not always better. Usually they are based on cost so I would guess the use of this plant as fodder is more costly. It has lovely flowers.

    • Yes, the markings on the petals are very fine and elegant. I guess the workhorses are gone for good, but sainfoin could be encouraged as an option for ‘set-aside’ areas (designated wild patches) to provide for pollinators.

  2. Cathy says:

    A beautiful wild flower, rarely seen here. πŸ˜ƒ

  3. Eliza Waters says:

    I’ve never seen this plant– it’s a beauty and what a pity that it is no longer grown. It seems to be a good and useful plant.

  4. Tina says:

    I can post! Woohoo! Lovely wildflower and aren’t you fortunate to have it so close at hand!

    • It is pretty glamorous for a fodder plant! Has your WordPress been broken? There have certainly been a few glitches recently. Glad you’re back to business as usual then! πŸ™‚

      • Tina says:

        I’ve had some glitches recently; checked my settings, but all seems well there. For now, things are good! Maybe it was a full moon. Or, a not full moon. Who knows? πŸ™‚

  5. shoreacres says:

    What a beautiful plant. I spotted it as a member of the Fabaceae, but it looked more like a grass than the usual members of the family we have. I’d never heard of it, but look at this from an extensive USDA site: “Sainfoin has been widely used in reclamation and range enhancement seedings throughout the Great Plains, Rocky Mountains and Intermountain West and has become naturalized in some locations. It is not considered weedy or invasive, but may spread under ideal conditions via seed.” Too bad it doesn’t like salt!

  6. Cathy says:

    Another fascinating post, Allison – as you say, it’s a shame it has fallen out of use, although an article in the current NT magazine mentions it, so it is clearly being introduced in some places. The fields must look so pretty!

  7. Fascinating derivation! You do still see it in grass mixture here in France being grown for hay for horses of the rich kids.

    • Interesting, I assumed these were self-seeded plants persisting in the ‘wild’. The meadows are cut for hay however, so maybe it is deliberate and the hay is being shipped off to Newmarket for our equivalent rich kids!

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