Can Cattle Eat Leafy Spurge?

Some time ago, I got this email from Jamie in Nebraska: Dear Kathy, I am interested in your way of controlling leafy spurge with cattle, however, I was informed that leafy spurge was toxic to cattle. I guess my question is how much can they eat before they become sick? I have a 600 acre sub-irrigated meadow out here in the Nebraska Sandhills in which I have several populations of leafy spurge ranging from dense 23 acre sites to scattered stands covering 20-30 acres. I would really like to use my cattle for this simply because it would be cheaper for my operation and spraying is really not an option due to the fact that I have three endangered species and I am located around a lot of water, not to mention I am sitting on the Ogallala Aquifer. What are your suggestions, if any? Here's my answer: It’s not really true that leafy spurge is toxic to cattle. When I first started teaching cows to eat weeds in 2004, I had heard a lot of the same information that you may have heard about leafy spurge. Sheep and goats can eat it but cows can't. The sap can cause irritation or burning in the mouth and digestive system, skin irritation and diarrhea.  This basic sentence is included in most texts on leafy spurge. On the other hand, I knew that cows on the Rex Ranch i

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One thought on “Can Cattle Eat Leafy Spurge?

  1. I didn’t know the word, but now I think that I (me) suffer from neophobia. P.S.: I’ve never eaten mac and cheese in my life; it causes lesions in my mouth, esophagus, etc.

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