How to Manage Cattle to Reduce Leafy Spurge, Spotted Knapweed and Canada Thistle

Editors Note: This is the second in a series on managing grazing to get the forage you want. (Here's the first article if you missed it.) Folks are sharing questions with us, and we're going to find some experts with answers. In the meantime, Kathy shares what she's learned about the first three weeds she taught cattle to eat when she was developing the training process at Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site in Deer Lodge, Montana. Once animals are grazing a target weed, our goals for that weed along with the time and money we have will determine how we manage our animals’ grazing. “Timing” and “Intensity” of grazing are our primary tools for managing vegetation.  Timing of grazing means choosing the time of year when the target weed is most susceptible to damage from grazing and preferred species are least susceptible.  As the picture below notes, a plant’s palatability and susceptibility to grazing changes over the growing season with both palatability and susceptibility to control decreasing after seed set (Launchbaugh 2006).  Since palatability is based on the nutritional value, it is obvious that we will have best luck with grazing when the plant’s nutritional value is higher.  By paying attention to the growth stage of the target weed, we can pick a time before seed set to graze for maximum impact. Intensity describes the frequency, or how often a weed is grazed, and the stocking density used when targeting a weed.  We know that grazing

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