Whitetop/Hoary Cress – Whatever You Call It, Livestock Love it!

My first opportunity to train cows to eat Whitetop/Hoary Cress (Cardaria draba) was in June of 2010 in Harney County, Oregon.  Cows belonging to the Roaring Springs Ranch, the Borelli Ranch, to Dennis Beurmann, and Carol and Alfred Dunten all learned to eat the weed.  Some trainees were fed the weed in training for 2 days, and others for only one day, but they all started eating it in pasture right away. The speed that the cows took to eating whitetop/hoary cress probably isn’t because Harney County cows are especially good students.  It’s more likely because whitetop is very palatable, even to people.  Whitetop is part of the mustard family and it’s leaves and flowers have a radish-like flavor.  The USDA Forest Service’s Fire Effects Information System says that white top and other wild members of the mustard family are high in vitamin C and their nutrients make them suitable for human consumption. Nutrients Adding a few white top leaves and flowers to your salad won’t do much to reduce the weed in your pastures.  But the high protein values might encourage you to get your cattle to work on it.  Allreference.com provides the following information on the plant’s prot

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2 thoughts on “Whitetop/Hoary Cress – Whatever You Call It, Livestock Love it!

  1. Kathy,
    Have you done any work with cattle to train them to eat goldenrod? I am currently leasing a farm with a field that is infested with it. The cattle will nibble on it, but will eat everything else to the ground first. I am reluctant to push them to hard to eat it, as I have read that goldenrod can cause abortion in livestock.

    1. Hi Paul,
      The trainees I’ve worked with have been eating goldenrod with no ill effects since 2004. I didn’t train them to eat it. They learned to eat other things and then added it to their diet on their own. I’ve always thought of it as a very palatable plant as a result.

      I pulled out all my plant books this morning and have found nothing about goldenrod causing abortion. There are some indications from back in the 40s that certain species were problems for sheep. But even those instances didn’t clearly implicate goldenrod.

      How about dropping me an email at kathy@onpasture.com with your phone number and we can chat about solving your problem.


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