Is Rancher’s Success Against Ragweed Really a Win?

An article in the March 2012 issue of BEEF magazine describes the success that a rancher in Oklahoma has had in using herbicide to improve his pastures.  Using a combination of fertilizer and herbicide treatments to combat ragweed, he describes how, with good rainfall, he harvested 4.12 bales/acre of 1,500 lb. large square bales in 2010, and then 2.18 bales/acre during drought in 2011.  In those areas where he only applied herbicide in the drought year, he got 1.84 bales per acre.  In 2010, the extra inputs were a wash because the cost of production was about equal to what he could have purchased hay for.  The rancher didn't run numbers for 2011, when drought increased hay costs, but felt that he was ahead because he didn't have to purchase as much hay as he might have. What really caught my eye was the rancher's comments about the protein value of his hay.  In 2010, the protein was 7%.  But in the 2011 drought year, the areas where he used both fertilizer and herbicide produced 8.7% protein hay.  Yet, in spite of the gains in protein values, he still doesn't have enough to meet the maintenance requirements of his animals:  10.5% CP for matur

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3 thoughts on “Is Rancher’s Success Against Ragweed Really a Win?

  1. Another comment. In the wild cattle ate everything available for survival. We have so babied our cattle that they lost this natural behavior. Let a cow be a cow. She knows what to do if you let her.

  2. Another point about cattle grazing weeds. The weeds are there taking moisture from the soil. If a cow is eating these weeds, she is in effect taking more pounds of forage production off the land. Instead of weeds being wasted, they create a greater forage base. Cattle need a diversity in their diet which contributes to their health. Weeds will always be there, so learn to love them.

  3. Good article. This rancher produces hay tho -isn’t grazing this pasture? If he bales it, How might the drying of the ragweed affect the nutritional value? Perhaps since it started off better than alfalfa, it would retain it’s advantage. Additionally,once it goes to seed would it’s value decline dramatically and ruin his last cutting? That would be costly. Just things to ponder. I’ve hand fed my cattle young ragweed and they will nibble on it but have not taught them to eat it- guess I should try it.

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