Spring is Sprung – Grazing for Best Results, Avoiding Toxic Plants and Preventing Grass Tetany

Yes, it’s getting to be that time of year — new spring green growth! The cows start complaining about eating hay and bellowing when they hear my voice or even just see me. It’s not that the hay is any less delectable, it’s just not what they know is available across the fence. It’s about like a kid walking by a candy store; the focus is on the treat. I’ve listened to several pretty intense arguments over the years on the topic of when to start grazing in the spring. Some spoiled cows are never denied their micro-greens and sadly, the pastures usually show it. I’ve heard some say, “the cows know best.” They do have excellent biological feedback from their stomachs that tells them there is usually more energy and protein in that lush new forage. This is even more true with small ruminants such as sheep and goats who can and will sometimes select specific plant parts because of differences in energy or nutrients that are needed at the time. Perhaps this is the ruminant animals “gut” instinct. Unfortunately, just like eating too much candy from the candy store, ruminants eating too much lush green cotton candy growth early in the year can have its consequences. If you don’t believe me, let them graze that short new growth for two or three days and then run them through the cattle chute to work them. You won’t want to be the person tailing them in th

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