cows eat spurge

Euphorbia, that tall, spare weed with red stems, variegated, oval leaves, milky sap, and long, thin brown pods full of fluff, is not supposed to be good forage for cows, in fact, most of the Extension sites we have looked at inform you unequivocally that spurge, to use its common name, will cause blistering in cows’ mouths and irritation of their intestinal tracts.  No one told our cows this, and by the time we did the research and discovered that it was supposed to disagree with them, the cows had already let us know that it was one of the tastiest forages in the pasture.  Rotational graziers are reporting the same experience:  turned into a short-duration paddock of mixed forages, cows relish spurge and show no ill effects from eating it.  Interesting.  The weed is a recent invader and is spreading rapidly across the country; in some places farmers are even fighting it with Roundup and bulldozers.  Judging by our cows’ preference for the weed, we wonder if, under conventional grazing, where large areas of forage are available to the animals, cows gorge on the tasty weed and then suffer ill effects from an excess of it.  Our twenty-four hour paddocks allow the cows access to a limited amount of any one forage, resulting in a naturally balanced diet.  What’s good for the grass is good for the cows, too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s