Weed Eating Bovine Goats

Our Texas A&M Agrilife extension specialist, Dr. Barron Rector, defines a weed as “a plant that grows where you don’t want it to.” Last year he told us that our precious ryegrass, that we planted the previous fall for grazing, was robbing the developing coastal bermuda grass of light, water and nutrition, if it were still growing in mid April. He said, “if you had a stand of ryegrass on your coastal patching on April 5, that ryegrass was A WEED!”

So now April is on the way, and for some strange reason we’ve had a mild winter, despite the fact that frosty mornings keep hanging on! There’s a lot of ryegrass and burr medic (burr clover we call it). What to do? Well, part of the answer is rotational grazing. This is especially true with our two species system. We turn our Corriente weed-eating-browsing “bovine goats” into a pasture. They eat everything. Then just before it begins to look like a golf course, we move them. The horses moved in. They like their grass short, and picky beings that they are, don’t eat as many of the “weeds” as the cows. A little later we may have a problem, as the greenbrier, dewberries, honey locust, mesquite, huisache, goat weed, nightshade, etc. will come on like gangbusters. What to do, again? The experts say spray. Historically we’ve spent time diesel and money shredding. Buy more cows? Breed for goat weed eating horses? Or give in and spray 2-4 D. Alas, it’s an eternal puzzle. Then the decisions get taken out of our hands with another drought.

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