Bedstraw is a Nutritious, Resilient Forage

If you have bedstraw  on your farm or ranch, lucky you! According to forage analysis done by the Vermont Pasture Management Outreach program, protein values for this plant were around 19%. That means we should quit thinking of it as a weed, and instead look at it as a very palatable that is good for your livestock. If your animals aren't already eating bedstraw, you may have to teach them that this is a good food to eat. That's what Kimberly Hagen, of the Vermont Pasture Network did in 2011. She followed Kathy Voth's training recipe, to trained her sheep to eat bedstraw as shown in the video below. When she moved them to new pasture elsewhere as part of her parasite management program, she trained the visiting cattle to eat this forage. (Click here for more information on how you can train your own livestock.) Timing of Grazing Kathy Voth and Kimberly Hagen teaching sheep to eat Bedstraw[/capti

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3 thoughts on “Bedstraw is a Nutritious, Resilient Forage

  1. When we moved to our current farm in the Adirondacks of NY 4 years ago, our pastures were easily over 50% bedstraw. Didn’t know what it was at the time, and coincidentally had it identified at a grazing talk with Kathy that was being held in our area. Four years later, after intense rotational grazing and one frost-seeding of clover, the grasses have expanded exponentially along with red clover, but the bedstraw persists, but that’s not a bad thing really. Its somewhat dense habit helps fill in the gaps left by the grasses and provide more cover/forage, and in the poorer, sandier areas where the grass and clover still hasn’t made a good foothold, the bedstraw again helps fill in.

    Do you know what bedstraw is symptomatic of? E.g. does it just establish itself when there’s low pressure from grass, or lack of mowing or grazing? Does it take to lower pH soils than grass or clover like?

  2. Thanks for this article. Our forage testing of bedstraw in WV and NY supports your observations. Bedstraw has nutritional value similar to the grass in the pasture. Rotational grazing is often the only training needed to teach cattle to eat bedstraw. My cattle like bedstraw in early bloom when the flowers smell like clover. Thank you for your efforts to let producers know that many “weeds” are high quality forage in disguise.

    1. I have been using it in my herbal tea blends for years as it supports a healthy gall bladder. When I heard that my weeds were useful (amazing right? lol) I had to try it for a pain under my right ribs (mostly after meals) and three cups of it took the pain away for quite a while! After drying it on a fence and crumbling the leaves into a big brown paper bag I then ran it through the Ninja with multiple blades and sifted it through a colander! Wow! Smells just like a barn load of fresh hay. Here is a site I just found that looks thoroughly researched and no woo woo stuff!

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