Following good pasture management practices is one of the best ways to eliminate weeds and unwanted plants in grass pastures and hayfields. Weedy-type plants reduce quality, of desirable forages available to livestock. Some plants are potentially poisonous to grazing animals — such as buttercup and poison hemlock.
To reap the most forage quantity and quality from pastures, use management practices to encourage growth of a vigorous, dense stand of desirable forage grasses, yet limit germination and growth of unwanted plants. Remember, weed seed can germinate in thin pasture stands, and unwanted plants are more prone to become established in these areas.
Recognize all weeds aren’t detrimental as livestock forage. Some weedy plants have nutritional value, especially those used in the early vegetative growth stages such as crabgrass.
Good pasture management starts with timely mowing and good grazing practices. Well-timed mowing before weedy plants can produce new seed helps prevent production and spread of weed seeds. Where perennial weeds dominate, frequent mowing can curtail weeds’ growth by depleting their root reserves. If you use rotational grazing, be sure to avoid over-grazing that reduces the competitive capabilities of desirable forage species.