Sometimes I have thumb problems. While many people are very proud of their green thumbs, mine tends to look a little, well, black. It usually shows up when I have a weed eater or a jug of Round-Up in my hands. If it is not a corn plant, a tomato or a flower WITH a bloom, it looks like a weed and therefore it is the enemy that must not live on my farm. My wife gets upset with me sometimes for destroying some flowers but I usually keep the place looking ok.
But in my pasture/hay fields, where I want my plants to flourish, I continue to have a little more of a “black instead of a green” thumb. With horses, mini donkeys and chickens, I am very hesitant to use any herbicide on the hay fields/pastures. I know there are ways to clear weeds but there is a reason why I went into animal science and not crop science.
Some of the problem weeds that may be in a pasture or hayfield may include thistle, Milkweed and Queen Anne’s Lace. Their names make it fairly easy to know what they look like and that are not good for my animals…but other noxious plants are not as familiar.
As I was doing research about bad weeds for horses, I found there are so many weeds they will not fit on this page. Some are very regional (Houndstongue in the Pacific NW) and some are found in most places like Red Oak leaves.
A short list of toxic plants may include Nightshade, Milkweed, Buttercups, Braken Fern, Lilly of the Valley and if ingested in large amounts, plants like lambsquarter and pig weed can create issues.
Luckily, most animals will not eat these toxic plants as long as there are other things to eat. A problem may occur however when the weeds are cut and baled in hay so the horses may eat some accidentally.
So the question becomes, what can you do about these bad plants? First is learn to identify them. I have a lot of nice neighbors that have farmed around me for a long time that know their plants. Second, decide how you wish to get rid of weeds. Pulling or cutting them is one way but if you have a weed that grows via rhizomes (a horizontal root system), then that does not work well as I found with Johnson grass. You could “Round-Up” the whole field and start again but that takes time and, correctly done, lots of money. You can use some form of the herbicide 2,4 D that does not have a withhold time (please check application directions) that will get rid of all broad leaf plants (which includes most of the bad weeds). I have tried a couple of ways with limited success and am going to try another direction this year but I hope after reading this, your thumb is now a little greener.
Posted on 8/7/2014 by Dr. Ed Bonnette | Category: Equine, Poultry, Cat, Dog, Rabbit, Sheep, Goat, Specialty
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