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Would 43% More Forage Be Helpful? Teach Your Livestock to Eat Weeds!

By   /  June 4, 2018  /  Comments Off on Would 43% More Forage Be Helpful? Teach Your Livestock to Eat Weeds!

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It’s that time of year when I remind you that you can teach your ruminant livestock to eat your weeds so that you have as much as 43% more forage,* and you don’t have to worry about herbicide.

Training a group of 50 animals to eat weeds takes just 8 hours spread over 7 days at a cost of about $250. Trained animals teach their offspring and herd mates, they remember the new foods for the rest of their lives, and they even add more weeds to their diet all on their own. The best part? Weeds are almost always equal to or better than alfalfa in nutritional value. That’s why one herd I followed for 6 years began walking over the grass in their pastures to choose the weeds instead.

I’ve been training animals and telling farmers and ranchers how to do this since 2004. It turns out that the hardest part of the process is getting farmers and ranchers to try it. So today, I’m going to turn it over to Joe Morris of San Juan Bautista, California to talk about how it worked for him.

It Was Easy! You Can Do It!

That’s what Joe said about teaching cows to eat weeds a few years ago. Joe attended one of my presentations in 2007.  He took good notes and later that spring he taught his cows to eat milk thistle.  In this 2:40 video he describes his training experience.

Joe noticed that his trainees didn’t stop at eating just the target weed. “The bonus was that they ate not only the milk thistle in the pasture, but they also ate Italian thistle in the pasture, and black mustard.  And they ate it with gusto,” he said.

Not everyone takes notes as well as Joe did. So I’ve tried to make it easier for you to get started. Head over to this page with links to all the articles that I’ve written on this for On Pasture, and info on how you can get help from me for next to nothing. There are even links to my youtube channel so that you can watch videos of cows learning. They’re short, sweet and guaranteed to be entertaining.

Here’s What Your Cows Can Eat

Just click on the picture below to download the list.

If you don’t see your plant on this list, drop me an email and I’ll check it out for you. If you decide to train, and you’re not sure that things are going right or you have questions, drop me an email. I’ve trained over 1,000 cows, 38 bison, several flocks of sheep and some goats how to eat weeds so I can solve most of your training problems by just talking to you about what’s going on.

Really, I’m serious! Get in touch with me. What good is a great invention if no one ever takes advantage of it? I want you to be successful and I want your cows to be successful.

 Go forth and eat weeds!

* Wondering about that 43% more forage? Economist John Morley looked at the common infestation rate he determined that having weed-eating cows could increase acreage available for grazing by as much as 43%.  Read more here.

Thanks to the National Grazing Lands Coalition for making this article possible.

The 7th National Grazing Lands Conference is coming up in December and it’s one of On Pasture’s favorites. One of the things that makes it so great is that folks just like you are the speakers, sharing their great experiences. Learn more about the event here. On Pasture will be there. Come see us!

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About the author

Publisher, Editor and Author

Kathy worked with the Bureau of Land Management for 12 years before founding Livestock for Landscapes in 2004. Her twelve years at the agency allowed her to pursue her goal of helping communities find ways to live profitably AND sustainably in their environment. She has been researching and working with livestock as a land management tool for over a decade. When she's not helping farmers, ranchers and land managers on-site, she writes articles, and books, and edits videos to help others turn their livestock into landscape managers.

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