How to Teach Cows to Eat Weeds in Just 8 Hours Over 7 Days

This works for any animal - so whatever you're raising, check it out! In 2004, I taught a small group of heifers to eat Canada thistle, leafy spurge and spotted knapweed. I was inspired by two decades of research on how animals choose what to eat, and by ranchers' (perfectly reasonable) refusal to incorporate goats into their cattle operations. My thought was, "If everything in the research is true, then I should be able to teach a cow to eat a weed. And that would be MUCH easier than getting a rancher to buy goats." As it turns out, teaching a cow to eat a weed is very easy. It takes just eight hours spread over seven days. Educated cows add other pasture weeds to their diets on their own and they teach their offspring and herd mates. The don't forget their new weeds over the winter, or ever, so you only have to train one group of animals once, and you're done. Best of all, with an educated, weed-eating herd you have about 43% more forage. Here's how it works: 1. Know Your Weed When I started teaching cows to eat weeds, I was drawing on two decades of research showing that animals choose what to eat based on a combination of the nutrients and toxins in the plant, and the animal's own changing nutritional needs. The more nutritious the food is, the more likely an animal is to eat it. The lower in nutrients, the less the animal will eat. Toxins in plants reduce the amount an animal will eat of a plant. The higher the dose, the less it will eat. So, before I start t

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2 thoughts on “How to Teach Cows to Eat Weeds in Just 8 Hours Over 7 Days

  1. This is great, practical use of research. In the video, when you are building fence, what are you wearing on your back to carry fence posts?

    1. It’s a golf bag. Some folks I worked with in California introduced me to the idea. It was a great way to carry fence posts around. And instead of using the outside pocket for golf balls, I used it to carry extra fencing parts and my fence tester. I worked in an area where I wasn’t allowed to use a vehicle, so all I had was my legs and a pack. I preferred the golf bag to the backpack I used when I was building a mile of fence.

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