Honey Locust as Livestock Feed

Ever heard of a Honey Locust Tree?  Not sure that I had prior to reading Tree Crops.  Most of the quotes that you will see in this blog entry are from J. Russell Smith’s book or from this Winrock Factsheet.  I had heard of Black Locust (used for fence posts in Georgia), so if you are familiar with Black Locust, understand that they are related.  Both trees are native to the US…and the State of Georgia as well. 

Honey Locust is interesting  because of its seed pods of up to 18 inches in length.  The beans contain up to 13% protein, and the pods contain up to 42% carbohydrates.  Preliminary testing in the early 1940′s at Auburn “have shown that ground honey locust pods are equivelant in feed value to oats, pound for pound…”  5 year old trees at an Alabama Experiment Station yielded 58.3 pounds of pods per tree.  At 48 trees per acre, that’s almost 2800 pounds per acre…for five year old trees!

Another intriguing fact about the Honey Locust is that it is a Legume tree…though the Winrock article says that the roots do not fix nitrogen from the air.  It is also noted that the Honey Locust is a great tree for Silvopasture due to a canopy that permits the infiltration of light.

The planting at Auburn was planted with Sericea Lespedeza (a perennial forage we can write about in a future blog), and the following was noted…”Having a combination of honey locust and Lespedeza Sericea, the following benefits are derived over a period of years:

  1. Soil is completely protected.
  2. A concentrate and hay can be produced on the same area.
  3. A good grazing and feeding-out program can be maintained.
  4. Low seed and management costs over a period of years.
  5. Weed control.
  6. Low Labor requirement.
  7. Maximum production from the soil.

That’s enough convincing for me…I’m going to add some of these to our Hog feeding forest of Oak, Persimmon, Crabapple, and now Honey Locust.  Next step is to draw out a plan for where to plant everything we will plant this winter.

Leave a comment


  1. I’m having a hard time finding the true honey locust with thorns. Have you had similar difficulties?

  2. Steven – Yes. With thorns are hard to find. Here’s a link to Oikos that carries several varieties. Oikos’ trees are very small when you get them, so the first year you have to pot them up/nurse them along, and then plant the following winter. Wish they provided 2 year old trees, but alot of their stuff is hard to find elsewhere, so you take what you can get.

  3. I stumbled onto your blog, very interesting stuff. In response to your problem finding true honey locust trees you should come to Iowa, southern Iowa and west central IL would be a good place to find these trees. They are considered a weed here, most people would pay you to take them. We call them thorny locust, for obvious reasons. Goats love the pods, I’m not sure of the production, once the pods hit the ground it doesn’t take long for all the critters to haul them off.

  4. The only place that I have found with the named honeylocust types at a fair price and lots of other good stuff is http://www.hiddenspringsnursery.com/plants.html

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