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T O P I C    R E V I E W
maryjane Posted - Apr 07 2016 : 11:30:12 AM
Daisy can work wonders when it comes to weeding. Traditionally a task given to goats, weeding is swiftly becoming bona fide bovine territory with the help of clever Oregon dairy farmer Jon Bansen. Frustrated that his Jerseys wouldn’t touch the prevalent curly dock (Rumex crispus) that was permeating his pastures, Bansen wouldn’t resort to spraying (he’s an Organic Valley supplier). As serendipity would have it, he stumbled upon a solution.

According to Kristin Ohlson of Modern Farmer, “Bansen had seeded plantain and chicory—somewhat less bitter plants than curly dock—into his pastures because they are natural parasitoids, which will discourage parasitic worms in the animals’ stomachs. His cows began grazing the new plants, and to Bansen’s amazement, they moved on from the plantain and chicory to the curly dock, completely fortuitously. Now, the entire herd relishes this former scourge.”

That’s right—the cows essentially trained themselves onto the bitter curly dock and now eat it readily, keeping both curly dock infestation and bovine parasites at bay.

Livestock educator Kathy Voth, who has long touted the virtues of conditioning picky cows’ palates, told Modern Farmer, “About 30 percent of a pasture are plants that cows won’t normally eat. If you train them to eat that 30 percent, you can have more livestock or run the ones you have on a smaller place. You can be more profitable. My favorite thing to teach is Canada thistle. If I can teach a cow to eat that, then they’ll eat anything else in the pasture.”

See? A backyard milk cow can do more than provide you with milk, butter, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and more ... not to mention cream for your coffee.

And don't forget, the next time you get stung by a bee, grab some plaintain (my plaintain plants grow in my driveway), toss a few leaves in your mouth, chew them up a tad, and then spread them onto the sting. Bee sting gone in 30 seconds flat.
10   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
CloversMum Posted - Apr 10 2016 : 9:50:36 PM
A weed dragon sure sounds grander than a propane torch. Are they similar? Or what is the difference?
maryjane Posted - Apr 10 2016 : 9:08:59 PM
Janet, I've always wanted to try a Weed Dragon. Does dragging around the propane tank get old?

NellieBelle Posted - Apr 09 2016 : 10:41:31 AM
I use a propane torch to kill some of my weeds. It does a pretty good job. But I've never dealt with Ventenata or multi floral rose. I have Canada thistle as my most aggressive and I've cut it back severely in the last few years with digging and disturbing frequently. Just one of the ongoing jobs on the farm. Nettles can get bad but we have them under control too. I like to eat them steamed, Joe not so much. :)
maryjane Posted - Apr 09 2016 : 09:59:47 AM
I'm pretty sure that's the exact rose we have here and the one the woman has trained her cows to control by eating the plants. I found one in my pasture a couple of years ago so I dug down several feet to get every piece of root. Sadly, we do have some venenata that moved into my pastures about four years ago. We control it my mowing constantly. Hate the stuff. Jacie says she also has it in her fields that she converted to prairie and struggles with it. She takes a weed eater to it frequently. There isn't a spray that works on it.

From our government website:
"In Latah County there are two invasive weeds singled out for control, Ventenata and Multifloral Rose. Ventenata is a winter annual grassy weed similar to cheat grass but more worthless. The Multifloral Rose plant has drawn comparisons to Charlie Brown's infamous kite eating tree. If you have ever been snagged by one you know what they mean. Both are found county-wide and both require control so if you need help identifying these plants you can call this office for assistance."
NellieBelle Posted - Apr 09 2016 : 09:43:25 AM
Clever. Not unlike getting a child used to eating spinach or arugula, a little bit at first and a bit more…. Wah lah! Eating it and enjoying it too. You would think the thorns alone would put cows off. We have an invasive rose back here called multiflora rose. When I hunted with my Red-tail hawk years ago, I had to buy special condura pants to protect my legs as they tore you up. You would get caught up in them. Reminds me of Uncle Remus and Briar Rabbit.
maryjane Posted - Apr 09 2016 : 06:27:09 AM
My neighbor Jacie and I were talking about this and she gave me the name of a local woman who raises Highlander cattle that she says she has trained to eat a newly invasive wild rose bush that has taken over entire fields around here. I don't know the details but she starts adapting their palate by serving them cuttings from the green plants in the spring and serving it to them with their regular food. And then later in the season when they're put on pasture, they go for the plant, whereas they use to eat around it.
Sydney2015 Posted - Apr 09 2016 : 05:50:01 AM
This is really interesting! I'm going to need to try this.
CloversMum Posted - Apr 08 2016 : 08:48:09 AM
Interesting for sure ... as we build up our pastures' health, I guess we definitely need a variety which is what we were going for. Just don't work goats out of a job! (says the one member here who loves her goats!) But I'd love to teach the cows to eat the thistle ... the goats can't get it all.
txbikergirl Posted - Apr 07 2016 : 6:23:24 PM
this is fascinating, kinda like getting kids to widen their choices. as this is the first year with great pastures and great cows i still don't have a clue what they will/wont eat. better start watching..
NellieBelle Posted - Apr 07 2016 : 1:31:53 PM
That's fascinating MaryJane. His cows don't care for curly dock. Mine won't eat chicory. So perhaps I need to introduce them to something new to educate their palate. Perhaps arugula or kale, then we all can eat it. Spinach, beets and beet greens, chard... Sow the pasture to edible greens.