Pearl Snaps

Stories of a cowgirl living life by her own lights

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Online publication offers graziers practical information

By Jesse Bussard

There’s a lot of great information out on the web about grazing and grass-based livestock systems. However, most of this information is located in a multitude of locations and not always readily accessible or obvious to individuals seeking it. This becomes even more difficult for individuals just getting into grazing and not sure where to find reliable and accurate information.

Kathy Voth of Livestock for Landscapes recognized this issue about a year ago when she started talking to other grazing conference speakers about how hard it was for farmers and ranchers to sort through all the available research and grazing practices to figure out what might work best for them.

To solve this problem, Kathy decided to create a publication that would sift through the piles of research and grazing practices, translate them into ideas that can work, and then put together the simple steps for getting started. This new online publication is known as On Pasture and offers graziers, beginning and experienced, the practical, no-nonsense explanations on the latest in grazing research and experience that you can use on your farm or ranch.

Check out their first official issue available on their website here:

Also be sure to like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter (@OnPasture).

Watch this YouTube video to learn what On Pasture is all about!

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Weedy Wednesday: Whitetop

by Jesse Bussard

A noxious and invasive weed, Whitetop or hoary cress (Lepidium draba L.), is becoming a big issue for Montana farmers and ranchers according to a recent article in the Missoulian. It is an aggressive growing plant capable of out competing desirable plants. Stivers, a Montana State University extension agent, states that a big part of the problem with whitetop is that it peaks just as those making a living in agriculture are swamped with other concerns like repairing fences and planting.

Whitetop has no natural predators and is not preferred by grazing animals. It was introduced to the United States from Eurasia decades ago. The Montana weed control association claims some whitetop weeds found within the moist Pacific Northwest can have root systems as deep as 30 feet. Plants produce approximately 3000 seeds annually and are also capable of reproducing via roots.

Control of whitetop takes an integrated approach. Of the most important management tactics, proper grazing management to avoid overgrazing is key as whitetop will overtake overgrazed pastures. Avoid traveling through whitetop to reduce spread of seeds. Seeds can also be spread via hay purchased for livestock, therefore purchasing weed-free hay is another good management tactic. Mowing is ineffective, as it just encourages growth from lateral roots. Some herbicide treatments are very effective to a point. Talk with your local county extension agent to learn about more ways you can prevent and control whitetop infestations.

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Weedy Wednesday: Cows weed out new forages

This calf is eating a musk thistle just like his mom taught him to do. Kathy Voth taught this herd to eat late-season diffuse knapweed in 2007 and they have gone on to choose everything in the pasture. - Photo courtesy of PFG by Kathy Voth

A Haiku
The War on Weeds ends
When cows begin to eat them.
Foe becomes forage.

I came across a great article and video in the Progressive Forage Grower newsletter yesterday. Kathy Voth, owner of Livestock for Landscapes, has pioneered a new method, based on principles of animal behavior, to train cattle to eat weeds. The great thing is, it’s working!!! Producers that have worked with her have had great success. They have reduced weed populations of many noxious and invasive weeds, increasing their forage availability drastically. Check out the video below where Kathy and several others talk about the economics of training cattle to eat weeds and the benefits this training can have for ranchers.

To read Kathy Voth’s story featured in Progressive Forage Grower click here.


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