Louisiana Cows Eat Horsenettle

I was lucky enough to spend a few days in Louisiana the end of September where I talked about how to teach livestock to eat weeds, and I got to teach folks to eat cricket brownies and fried larvae. It was a GREAT trip thanks to my host, Alan DeRamus. But perhaps the highlight was my visit with Don and Betty Ashford who used my training process to teach their cows to eat weeds. Not only did their herd learn to eat chamberbitter weed/Mimosa weed (phyllanthus urinaria), they also decided all on their own to eat teaweed (Sida spinosa) and huge mouthfuls of horsenettle (Solanum carolinense). I was so tickled about them eating horsenettle that I jumped up and down, giggled a lot, and hugged everyone in the vicinity. I've been looking at horsenettle over and over again for a long time because lots of people ask me if cows can eat it.  Here's what I started to tell everyone: "The primary toxin in horse nettle is solanine.  I haven't found anything that specifically says that this plant causes poisonings. All my resources simply say that it is part of a genus that has been associated with toxic effects. The primary problem is irritation of the digestive tract.  But it appears that results can be erratic.  Here's a quote from Toxic Plants of North America: " There has been particular concern about the t

All the grazing management tips you need

Subscribe to read this article and over 2,500 more!

Subscribe today!

If you're already a subscriber, log in here.

2 thoughts on “Louisiana Cows Eat Horsenettle

  1. Kathy, This statement says is all.

    “Meanwhile, I know that animals choose foods based on the feedback they get from them. That means that I don’t have to know all the answers. I can just rely on the cow’s feedback mechanism to do the job.”

    Too much of our research was developed with the cow as only a bystander, and not directly involved. The more natural things are, the more we learn. Observing/monitoring cannot be replaced by numbers on a chart.

    Now next time, we want a picture of you jumping and clapping! If you can do that you are not a jaded researcher, but a finder of truth!

  2. In a mob grazing situation with the NCSU beef herd, I’ve seen cows eat horsenettle with no problems. They also ate the tops off of some dog fennel which was a surprise. Dog fennel is a big noxious weed in eastern NC that I’d be really interested to see if cows could be trained to eat it.

Comments are closed.

Translate »