In the last few weeks I have attended a couple of field day, farm tour type of affairs. To my knowledge none of them were sponsored by any of the chemical companies directly, but listening to the folks putting on these things you could very easily believe were in the employ of these companies.
At one of the stops there was a weed identification program. There were a bunch of those black plastic buckets that you buy plants in at the nursery these folks with a different weed in each one. Each weed was presented to the attendees so that they could see it and hopefully learn its name. The old boy doing the talking then preceded to tell us in no uncertain terms just what kind of chemical we could use to kill each of these weeds, when to use it and how to mix it. There were at least a couple dozen of the samples and this was done with each of them. There was never any mention of costs or how often this process would need to be repeated, but listening to the talk it seemed to be understood that if the weeds reappeared the process should be repeated. There was never any mention of management practices of the forages or the livestock. It seemed to be assumed that if the weed killing was done everything would just fall into place.
The methods used by most folks in the cow business have over the years proved to be no solution at all. I am quoting now from an article by Dave Pratt that I was really surprised to see in a cattle publication last week.
“NO ONE EVER WENT BROKE BECAUSE THEY HAD WEEDS. WEEDS AREN’T A PROBLEM, THEY ARE A SYMPTOM. THEY TELL US THERE IS SOMETHING OUT OF WHACK WITH OUR LAND. KILLING WEEDS WILL NOT PUT THINGS RIGHT”
I apologize for the caps but I did not want this point missed. Since Kathy Voth came to our place last year and taught us how to teach our cows to eat weeds our whole perspective has changed. Now when we walk into a paddock that does have weeds, and this is most of them, we do not see a problem. We see a resource that for years we failed to utilize.
Prices for our cattle are not what they have been for the last few years. This should give producers a reason to look at ways to cut costs without giving up production. Eliminating spraying may be one of those things that can be very helpful in reducing costs and we have learned that eating weeds can be very beneficial for the animals. It just may be that the difference between good management practices and input costs such as spraying will be the difference in a profit or a loss.
And I am still somewhat confused, if all of this spraying of all this stuff works, why are there still weeds in these pastures?
Want more? Here’s Don’s article on training cows to eat weeds:
And here’s a bit about horse nettle for those of you wondering: