Have You Discovered the Benefits of Canada Thistle?

I have a different feeling about weeds than most people. That's because I've turned them into forage. Read on for the benefits of one of my favorite forages - Canada thistle. In 2004, I developed a simple method for teaching cows and other  livestock to eat weeds. It takes just eight hours spread over seven days and costs just $2.50 per animal. Once they've graduated, livestock students explore their pastures to add other weeds to their diet. They also remember year after year, and teach their herd mates what to eat as well. So it's a one and done training. I've trained cows, goats, sheep and bison, and over time, there was one weed/alternative forage, that became my favorite: Canada thistle (cirsium arvense, also known as Creeping thistle in Europe and in Australia as California thistle). Here's what it has to offer as a forage: • It's the equivalent of alfalfa in nutritional value without the bloat issues. • It is very resilient. It spreads via seeds and roots. It can grow in all kinds of climates, soils and precipitation levels, so it's always there for us when we need some extra forage. • Its flowers are pretty, they smell good, and they're great for bees. • It's really easy to teach livestock to eat it. In fact, I think of Canada thistle as the "Gateway Weed." Once cattle are eating it, they look at every

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