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verified for correctness. Some of the information contained herein is hearsay and may not
be correct. Use the information from these pages only at your own risk!
Weeds and brush compete with desirable plants, and some unwanted
plants are a threat to animal health and
productivity. Weed management is an important part of the overall land management plan.
Good management follows the saying, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Benefits of Weed and Brush Management
- Prevent buildup of damaging or toxic weed populations and their seeds.
- Controlling the weeds helps to develop and maintain a desirable plant
- Increased pasture quality, forage yield, animal capacity, and animal
- Reduced need to buy supplemental feed in the winter.
Identify the weed or brush - weed controls are specific to a species,
or a plant type. Know what you are trying to control to get the best match with an
effective herbicide or alternative. Some plants are best sprayed when they're small, with
2 or 3 leaves; others are best controlled before budding or when in bloom. Know what to spray, when to spray it and
the limitations on animal grazing.
Identify any poisonous weed - Most poisonings occur from hay, so check
your hay supply for weeds. Most, though not all, toxic plants are unattractive to animals
and avoided. However, if the harmful plants are intermingled with the good plants, or if
there is insufficient forage and the animal is hungry, harm can happen. Poisonings are
most likely with very young animals, or animals newly brought into the area. Examine your
pasture in August, the weeds left untouched are either toxic or unpalatable.
Read the directions with chemical controls - the toxicity of most
chemicals used in pasture weed control is low, as long as you follow the directions on the
container label or booklet. More is not better. It may take several applications to
control some weeds and brush.
Weed Control - hoeing, spot spraying, and re-checking the location,
will keep the weeds from spreading.
Brush Control - often the best control of undesirable brush is to
physically remove the plants, by hand or using equipment. Some chemical control may be
required for a limited time to control re-sprouting or new growth.
Alternative - both goats and sheep have been used to control weeds and
brush. They are browsing animals, meaning they search out what they want to eat. They
prefer brush, tree leaves, and rough plants. Each species prefers different plants.
Consider biological controls - some insects feed on specific weeds.
Control Program - often an ongoing control program is necessary to control unwanted
weeds and brush. Be prepared to check and re-check.
Expect more and different weeds or brush - land management is an on-going program. An effective weed and brush program is
never over. Once the existing undesirable plants are controlled, watch for new plants.
Respect your pastures grazing capacity - overgrazing will allow unwanted weeds and brush to thrive over the weakened
pasture grasses. Minimum area is 2-3 acres per horse and 1-2 acres per cow and calf, or
2-3 sheep per acre. A control program begins with a healthy pasture. Consider rotational
grazing for your animals.
Graze pastures to no less than 3 inches in height - rest the pasture until it has regrown to 6-8 inches.
Keep animals off the pasture as much as possible from November
through March - Consider an all-weather paddock or sacrifice area.
Renovation and re-seeding - in some cases complete
replacement of the pasture is needed. This involves destroying the old sod, either by
herbicides or plowing, and then re-seeding to establish a new, less weed infested pasture.
pasture can help, depending on the weed species or type. Pasture mowing is recommended in
late May before weed seeds are mature.
- Lands must be managed to prevent both gully and sheet erosion.
- Lands near streams must be managed to establish and maintain a well vegetated buffer
extending at least 35 feet back from the normal high water mark for the stream.
- All pesticides must be used only as directed on the label.
- Communicating for Agriculture is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the needs of
America's farmers and ranchers. They can be contacted at: http://www.cainc.org
This page was last updated on
November 15, 2002