Weeds as Quality Forage

Forage quantity, quality and cost limit how much livestock a producer can raise, and how much money he/she makes doing it.   Our emphasis on pasture grasses has led to decades of research to improve grass varieties, and farmers and ranchers have sprayed, burned, mowed, seeded, and invested in the necessary equipment for all this in an effort to increase the quantity and quality of pastures. There is an alternative.  By understanding a little more about what's growing in our pastures, and how animals choose what to eat, we could reduce expenses and increase the numbers of cattle we can produce.  By turning weeds into forage, producers could potentially raise more cattle, and spend less money doing it.  Let’s break it down: Forage Quantity Economist John Morley found that, based on average pasture weed populations, if a producer’s cattle ate just 70% of the weeds available, that producer would have about 43% more forage.  This is just an average and your percentage will be different based on your past weed management practices. But quantity isn’t limited to just what is in the pasture at the beginning of the grazing season.  Graziers want to know "Do weeds regrow th

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