Since people say that comfrey can survive everything, can comfrey survive a daily stampede to the milking barn as ground cover in the alleys?

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    You are insane. How the heck was this question even allowed? Comfrey will not survive a stampede, just not selected for in the genetics. NO plant would survive a stampede. Why are you asking this question? You know better. Go get gravel, that works well, inexpensive. Living things aren't meant to be bludgeoned into the ground. Good grief Black Thumb. – stormy Dec 5 '16 at 9:08
  • They won't be bludgeoned, as a sheep has the average PSI of a sheep hoof is a lot less than that of a cow. – black thumb Dec 5 '16 at 20:05
  • Bludgeoned as an adjective for a plant is far different than what it means for us humans. Please just tell us what you are wanting to do. From what I've been reading of your comments/questions you are really into this comfrey. Comfrey is NOT a STEPPABLE. This label is used in all the nurseries to say a LITTLE traffic won't kill whatever plant is labeled. Comfrey would never be put in that section of the nursery. No steppable to include good old grass would ever be used in a high traffic area such as you are describing. For all your obvious knowledge, you need far more to understand plts – stormy Dec 5 '16 at 21:46
  • I'm looking for a seed mix that I can put in transport alleys to the barn to drop off their collection, and have a few eat on their way when they go back to using that alley again. – black thumb Dec 5 '16 at 22:03
  • In my defense, I never said HE was insane. It would be an insane idea. It would make him insane. I am sorry you think I intentionally tried to hurt someone. Better yet, some of his questions make ME insane, grins. I've grown a thicker skin I guess cause I get ridiculed, thrown the subtle snide spear an awful lot because I bring it on. I am learning how to communicate through the written word only. I am working on being more...conventional but shoot, guess I've got to work harder. – stormy Dec 6 '16 at 21:12

Look, I was raised on a wilderness ranch with cattle, horses, sandhill cranes...heaven. No electricity!! 6000 acres a pristine pond/spring where 'Mares Eggs' grew...rare. No ATV'S. We did have a funky Willy jeep to play with otherwise it was all done via horse back.

All my life I've raised plants, taken care of other people's landscapes, trained others to take care of the landscapes correctly. I design landscapes...not as a designer but as a Landscape Architect. Making the landscape functional and desirable to use was what I did 8 years of college, taught classes and took a 4 day long test to be able to have the authority to make opinions. One of my claims to fame is grading and drainage, done without the help of a computer. I am telling you if you are putting the sheep through a bottle neck to guide them where you want you will have MUD. Sure as sheep poop, you will have mud. Mud turns into concrete. Sheep, farm animals when being moved around do not need to eat in transition. Bad habit. Like allowing your horse to go graze as soon as it spies something green and lush when your horse is on duty beneath you. Not cool.

Why not keep it simple for yourself and the animals and install gravel? You'd never regret good old crushed 5/8 minus 4 or 6 inches deep. For this application I would NOT install landscape fabric beneath the gravel. The sheep could easily get caught up in the fabric perhaps at the edges once all turns to mud. Have you ever owned sheep?

Comfrey is a tender perennial. Not made for traffic of any kind. Maybe fine for a stampede ONCE a year but that is it. Mud holds fungal spores that love a plant like comfrey...powdery mildew, rust. I would make a specific area to grow your comfrey. Make your utility areas separate, usable and easy to clean.

WHY do you want to grow plants in a movement zone? What are you seeing as a benefit? Maybe that would be helpful! You know the acronym KISS? Grins!! So true. I applaud what you are doing but you are setting yourself up for failure. Failure is good experience in little bits but won't endear farm life to you at all if there are too many re-dos.

And you do know that comfrey shouldn't be ingested willy nilly, yes? Best used for topical care, not internal stuff. Comfrey is an accumulator plant. Sure makes great organic matter super for adding to the soil! But there are heavy metals in our skies that are in our soils and water. Comfrey...hey, kale is another accumulator plant. When the comfrey is added to the compost the heavy metals are not such a good thing. Accumulator plants suck up stuff animals should not be eating. If you were to send a sketch of your acreage with simple 'bubbles' to designate use and movement, transition zones between uses... we might be able to help a bit more.

Completely within this site's parameters...'landscaping', humans assigning uses to their outdoor rooms, providing connection...yadayadayada. And everything I have read about the uses for comfrey sheds a bit of healthy doubt for this newbie fad.

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  • What if you have 10 paddocks, and on those paddocks, they have 1 alley that is used for those 10 days, and they trample for 10 days straight, then on your main rows you build dirt with wood chips that get beat to a pulp? – black thumb Dec 6 '16 at 7:28
  • That is how I've interpreted your question from the beginning. That alley is simply a necessary bottle neck to control HERD animals. You are thinking wood chips as a mulch versus gravel? You will have mud, plain and simple. I own have always owned horses. I know all about mud. I've used many different barns/systems when boarding them and when I've got the acreage. I know you will have a muddy mess. Just use gravel!! Mud is fine as long as your animals can get their feet dry elsewhere but forget trying to make a fast food restaurant for your animals. Install gravel sooner than later. – stormy Dec 6 '16 at 8:09
  • So hooking up to the driveway as the main drag with gravel after then taking an alley for the week would be best practice? – black thumb Dec 6 '16 at 18:26
  • Shoot, it sounds right but gee, could you do a rough sketch of what your are trying to establish for traffic? Honestly, 10 paddocks sounds real nice, how big are each? I know those turn into mud...like up to your knees, quickly and easily. Even adding gravel once per year did not stop the ground from turning into mush. One actually hopes for sub zero weather where everyone and everything can finally walk upon frozen ground. A quick sketch otherwise I am truly talking out of my my my...whatever. And I do have a friend who raises goats who ended up with the same thing. Mud. – stormy Dec 7 '16 at 22:36
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    Just to add; mud is a bigger problem than just muddy. There is a bacterium (Dermatophilus congolensi..um?) with fungus AND bacteria properties that is called; rain scald, pastern dermatitis, greasy hells, scratches, swamp fever...on sheep it is called LUMPY WOOL. White socks and white feet will be far more susceptible than pigmented feet. Mud causes the moisture to cling to the hair and skin of your animals, yourself and your dogs. You'll end up shearing the hair off the legs of your animals, washing with this special soap and greasing the legs up with greasy bacteria ointment. Vet fees! – stormy Dec 7 '16 at 22:49

FYI: The comfrey I'm talking about is the kind that doesn't reseed. I'm not familiar with other kinds.

I'm pretty sure a very strong and well-established comfrey plant could indeed live through a stampede (or several; daily or a regular basis might be pushing it), since it's the roots that keep them alive. However, in my experience, you can't count on every comfrey plant you plant to be that strong. It would need a lot of sun to get that strong (and it would probably grow best next to a rarely traveled sidewalk or the south side of a house). Alleys wouldn't be ideal for that reason. It also takes years to establish them well, it seems.

Comfrey plants are too tall (~3 feet) to walk on comfortably, and a walked-on bush (they are bushes) probably wouldn't look great. Walking on them would break the stems and smush the leaves. Although they really can be very hard to kill once established, that doesn't mean the leaves and stems are tough (they're not; they're easy to damage). Plus, they attract bumble bees like crazy. A human would probably get stung walking through comfrey bushes (I don't know about cows), except that bumble bees probably like lots of sun, too.

I've never attempted mowing comfrey on a regular basis, but even if you could do it, you probably wouldn't want to mow it short (if you wanted something green left that looked semi-decent). Mowing a weak bush might kill it. I don't know if even a well-established comfrey bush would survive being short on a continual basis.

In short, you could probably spend loads of time and effort attempting it, with maybe marginal success, but I seriously doubt that it would be worth it at all, as they would be more like dangerous obstacles than ground cover. Your success might be higher with the kind that reseeds, since you could breed them.

Nevertheless, at least some plants (especially weeds) can become acclimatized to being stepped on (they grow flatter and tougher). I don't know if comfrey is any better or worse at acclimatizing to it than other plants, but it's not the easiest plant to imagine this with.

Comfrey goes dormant in the winter. (All the leaves and stems die.) So, it's not like grass there.

Comfrey has toxins in it. I'm not sure if they'd be a problem for cows.

You might stick with grass or such. There are many kinds of grass. Clover can be good (it does attract honeybees, but I don't know if they bother cows).

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  • The rule of chopping plant parts off that says only remove a third of the plant goes for all plants. Once they are dormant meaning they don't need to photosynthesize during the dormancy, some plants can be chopped to the ground. I wait until spring to clean up dead stuff leaving the dead plant material to add insulation to protect the bulbs, corms, rhizomes and roots. Comfrey isn't a ground cover for any type of physical damage. I wouldn't grow grass in a high traffic area. Sheep have little pointy feet, we have bigger, flatter feet with more even weight distribution.. – stormy Dec 11 '16 at 20:03

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