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Weed-Training Frequently Asked Questions

By   /  March 24, 2014  /  3 Comments

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Here’s where you can post your questions about training livestock to eat weeds.  This is a great place to come if you’re just getting started or you’re in the middle of your own training and you’re not sure that things are going right.

I’ll get you going with answers to a couple questions I frequently get:

Will trainees remember from one year to the next?

YES!  You never have to train them again.

Do I have to train them to eat every weed in my pasture?

NO!  The training you give your livestock will open their minds to the idea that food can be more than just one thing.  Over time they will begin to try other things they find in their pastures.  If they’re not trying something that you know is good for them, bring the tubs out again.  Put a few of them near the forage you’d like them to eat.  Then cut a bit of the target forage and put it in the tubs.  Remember – you’ve taught them that anything in the tubs is good to eat.  They’ll eat the target forage out of the tub and then begin to eat it in pasture.

Got more questions?  Post them below and I’ll answer!

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About the author

editor and contributor

Kathy worked with the Bureau of Land Management for 12 years before founding Livestock for Landscapes in 2004. Her twelve years at the agency allowed her to pursue her goal of helping communities find ways to live profitably AND sustainably in their environment. She has been researching and working with livestock as a land management tool for over a decade. When she's not helping farmers, ranchers and land managers on-site, she writes articles, and books, and edits videos to help others turn their livestock into landscape managers.

3 Comments

  1. Mark B says:

    Scotch Broom (Cytisus scoparius) can cows be trained to eat this. It is very bitter tasting to me.

  2. Doug Trask says:

    Hi,
    Buttercup is a bad one in some of my bush pasture. Can you train cows to eat it? Thanks

    D T

    • Kathy Voth says:

      HI Doug,

      Buttercup can be a tough one. There are some varieties that seem to cause problems and others that don’t. OR it could be that in some instances, cattle grazing it have other things in the pasture that they eat to offset negative effects from buttercup. I know a fellow in Virginia whose dairy cows began grazing buttercup on their own. He subsequently taught them to graze other weeds as well.

      So, do you know what the scientific name is for your kind of buttercup? If not, can you tell me where you live, and maybe I can figure it out on this end. Also, do you have other weeds that you can start with? I often suggest that folks start with something really easy, like Canada thistle, or any thistle. What I’ve found is that after learning to eat one weed, the cattle explore other things in pasture and then begin to eat a little of everything. Tell me what else you have, and I’ll help you figure out where to start. 🙂

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