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Using Animals for Weed Control: The Right Animal at the Right Time for the Right Period

By February 9, 2009

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To increase your success in using animals for weed control on large acreages, difficult or environmentally sensitive terrain, it is critical to:

Match the animal to the unwanted species. Different animals have different grazing preferences. For example, goats eat small oak, pine and willow saplings while cows generally do not. On the other hand cows would moo over a field of vetch while goats would be looking high and low for thistle, blackberries or dandelion.

Graze at the appropriate time of the year. If the primary goal of selected grazing is to reduce seed production of the target species, experience has shown that the longer the digestive trip, the less likely the seed will grow when dropped into a soup of rich nutrition in the field. Case in point, scientists speculate that the larger, more compartmented stomach of cows accounts for the lower percentage of weed germination, post cattle-grazing as fewer seeds emerge from the bovine's tail end intact and viable.

Feed only weed-free hay and silage for five days before moving livestock to a weed-free area to avoid spreading weeds.

Time grazing to allow native vegetation to recover between periods of grazing, taking care not to allow overgrazing as hungry animals may till up dormant weed seeds in the soil, exacerbating the pest plant problem, not controlling it.


April 23, 2009 at 12:51 am
(1) Weed Killer Caleb says:

One of my good friends is a farmer and he grows soy beans; he used some kind of weed killer, I don’t remember the name of it but anyways, the ladybugs didn’t like it (ladybugs are a very good bug to have in your crops -eats crop eating bugs and parasite) and his crops produced about 1/3 it’s average beans.

April 23, 2009 at 1:26 pm
(2) pestcontrol says:

Thanks for reading and for your insightful comments, Caleb. I think that your friend’s experience is in-your-face proof that all of Nature is connected. If one link or piece of the puzzle is altered, destroyed or changed, then everything that happens afterward will be altered, and usually, as in your friend’s case, with negative consequences.
Bees, ladybugs, lacewings and parasitic wasps, all of whom are pollinators, are easily killed by herbicides and certainly insecticides. Drops in crop yield and quality may be directly related to lack of proper pollination.
Please stop by again sometime.

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