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Herb Drying

Herb Drying

Herb drying is the easiest and cheapest way to provide a variety of forage for the winter months when fresh herbs are not available.

I am fortunate that we have a local community allotment which I volunteer at.  In exchange for weeding I get to take home the weeds which I dry for use in the gift baskets I make for charities.

When the weather is good I dry in a hanging mesh rack which has several layers and allows good air flow.  For bunches of herbs, especially if you’re drying indoors, hanging racks for utensils such as the one made by Kitchencraft, make good herb dryers.  Stackable mesh racks used to dry cloths also make good indoor herb dryers as they can dry a lot of herbs in a small space.  They are all pretty easy to find on Ebay or Amazon

Useful herb drying kit on Ebay

Hanging Mesh Dryers

Flower & Herb Dryers

Square Mesh Stackable Racks

Herb drying kit on Amazon


SaveHerb drying in a hanging mesh rackHerb drying on a flat mesh rackFresh young dandelion rootHerb drying is pretty easy to do but you need to remember a few golden rules:

  • Dry pieces of the same thickness together – separate thick stems from thin leaves
  • Make sure the material is clean before drying
  • Make sure all herbs are completely dry before storing.

Dried Dandelion & FenugreekHerbs will shrink when dried, to around 10% of their original weight.  Roots will have to be washed and dried before drying in a low oven.

Storing Dried Herbs

Keep dried herbs in a cool, dry place.  If they sweat in a plastic container or get damp in any way they will quickly develop mould.  You can safely store herbs for a year after drying.

Good plants to grow for drying

The best plants to grow are those which produce more forage than your furry family can eat fresh.  Alfalfa grows very vigorously but it can only be fed in small amounts or as a balancer for cereals as it is high in calcium.

If you have Cleavers growing locally you should dry as much of the young plant as possible.   It will grow back the following season if you allow some to seed.  It a seasonal plant, growing only for a few months.   Once it seeds you would not want to feed it.

Golden Rod is a great herb for animals that are off colour. It will grow back even bushier if you take out the top shoots.

Harvest willow herb and groundsel young too.  They can get diseases (characterised by orange or white marks) as they get older.   Apart from that they will seed everywhere if left.

German Hay

German Hay

German hay is an important part of the cultural heritage of the Alpine and Pre Alpine regions.  The Germans take their hay very seriously!  Their ancient meadows are protected by law. They harvest, dry and bale the grasses and wild plants with great care.

Many German pet food companies focused on healthy forages for small pets when UK companies were still peddling ‘pretty coloured bits’, and they’re still ahead of the game in many ways.

Zooplus, a German pet product retailer, also operates in the UK and is a reliable source of German hay and forages.

German Hay from ZooPlus UK

Click on any of the images below to purchase (affiliate links)

Mühldorfer Country Meadow Hay 15kg
Muhldorfer Meadow Hay

JR Farm Mountain Meadow Hay 2.5kg

JR Farm Mountain Meadow HayCountry meadow hay from the mountains of Bavaria.  You’ll find this in the equine section so it is better value for money than pet hay.

Mühldorfer Country Meadow Hay is excellent value for money and compressed into a handy small bale.

Price as of 05/02/2017 ( £1.13 – £1.20 / kg)JR Farm are long standing producers of hay and herbs.  From the reviews, there seem to be seasonal fluctuations in quality so maybe try a single bag in the first instance and check the reviews.

Price as of 05/02/2017 ( £2.80 / kg)

Bunny Fresh Grass Hay 3kg

Bunny Fresh Grass Hay

Mucki Mountain Meadow Hay 1.6kg

Mucki Mountain Meadow HayBunny Fresh Grass Hay is a hand-picked mixture of the first and second crop of untreated meadows from the southern German Allgäu.

My favourite German hay by far.   The 3kg bag is larger than the image suggests.

Price as of 05/02/2017 ( £5.00 / kg)Harvested from the Bavarian mountains where the old mountain meadows contain a variety of plants.

The hay contains twenty plant species which adds variety and taste.

Price as of 05/02/2017 ( £4.37 / kg)

Bunny Hay from Protected Meadows 2.7kg

Bunny Hay from Protected Meadows

Bunny Fresh Grass Hay Special Editions 3 x 2kg

Bunny Fresh Grass Hay Special EditionsGrown in untreated meadows in a conservation area where it is harvested late in the season to prevent disturbance to nesting wildlife.  Regular mowing helps create a wide variety of plants.  Dried in warm air to preserve colour and flavour.

Price as of 05/02/2017 ( £5.55 – £7.40 / kg)Hay which has seasonal herbs, flowers and vegetables added.

Available as Winter Pack or Summer Pack

Price as of 05/02/2017 ( £4.50 / kg)

Alpine Hay

Alpine Hay

What makes  Alpine Hay so Special?

Alpine hay is grown in relatively remote regions at high altitude.  The permanent pasture of the Alpine slopes not only benefits from the purity of the mountain air.   The pastures are also rich in wild plants making the hay very nutritious.

Running through a number of European countries including Germany, Austria, France, Italy and Switzerland, the Alps and its neighbouring ranges provide some of the best hay in Europe.

Hand Cutting Alpine Hay

The steep slopes make mechanical hay making extremely difficult so some of the best hay in the Alps is cut by teams of hay-makers using a traditional scythe.

You can find out more about using a scythe to cut hay from the Scythe Association of Britain & Ireland in the UK or One Scythe Revolution in the US

The Importance of Alpine Hay

The Germans & Austrians take the quality of their hay and hay meadows seriously.  They call milk from pasture fed cows ‘heumilch’ or haymilk and value it for cheesemaking.  They also use it in therapeutic baths and many tourists visit hay hotels where they can sleep in a bed of hay.

Hay Bath South TyrolImage is from

People of the Alpine regions even cook with it. For example Hay Soup served in bread baked in hay…

Hay Soup in bread From an article in Modern Farmer -image by photographer David de Vleeschauwer

How to get Alpine hay off the side of a mountain!

The haymakers often cut hay by hand using traditional scythes.   The steep slopes of the mountain make mechanical harvesting impossible.  They then gather the hay and have to move it down the mountain slopes.  This is only possible using man-power, but the hay cutters do this in a rather novel way.

The ‘hay avalanche’ that they create saves a lot of time when they are moving hay down from the upper Alpine mountain slopes. Then the haymakers send it on a rope slide down the mountain to the valley below.

Pets love munching away on mountain hay

Pet owners feed this hay to their rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas and degus not just because their pets find they hay delicious.  Their owners enjoy the smell of it, its softness and green colour.

The hay tempts fussy eater, it appeals to their foraging instincts and their tastebuds.  The animals eat the hay which is so important for their digestive system with little or no waste.  Guinea pigs especially enjoy burrowing into mounds of the stuff.

Chefs cook with it, you can bath with it or put it under your pillow for a good night’s sleep.  You don’t have to eat it to enjoy it.



Dried Grass

Dried Grass

Fresh grass is the prefect food for rabbits and guinea pigs.  Dried grass therefore provides a handy and nutritious forage as part of a balanced diet.  It is also great combined with our herb mixes, single herbs, cereal grasses or flowers.

If you have the storage space, and plenty of small furry pets, it pays to buy the bulk bales.

For those without a local feed or equine merchant, you can still buy large bales of dried grass from some online stores. That way you can also have them delivered directly to your door.

Graze-On and Readigrass come in 15kg bales, much cheaper that buying 1kg bags even with delivery.

Readigrass  is available in large bales for horses and smaller bags under the Friendly  label for rabbits, guinea pigs and other small pet herbivores.  Graze-On is only available in 15kg bales.Readigrass pure dried grassGraze-On dried grassFriendly Readigrass for small animals

Nutritional Value of Dried Grass

The horse and rabbit products, Readigrass and Friendly Forage, have different nutritional breakdowns.  The small animal version is higher in fibre 28% and lower in protein 12% than the horse one.  The horse product has 21% fibre and 15% protein.

Readigrass and Friendly Forage dried grass are only 3% moisture, making them prone to leaf-break.  This is not dust, just broken dried grass powder.  This is useful for making cookies or syringe feeds so don’t waste it.

Graze-On has a dry matter of 90% which is similar to hay.  It has 14% protein and 25% fibre,  almost in-between the other two.

Like fresh grass, dried grass has the perfect balance of nutrients for  small furries.  The calcium to phosphorous ratio is around 2:1 and it is also a good source of Vitamin E, Beta Carotene and Vitamin C.

The grass is mechnically dried which preserves the green colour, aroma as well as the chlorophyll content.