28 Aug 2012, Comments (1)

Dairy Cows Eat Weeds Too!

Author: kvoth

I had a chance to work with two dairy producers this summer.  One in Virginia had cows that were already eating buttercup, and producing more milk on weeds than on grass.  I gave him a few tips for adding some other weeds to their diets, and he was off and running.

Julie Wolcott of Greenwind Farm in Vermont taught a small group of her heifers to eat milkweed, brown knapweed and thistles.  The day I visited her in July was also the day she was putting them out on pasture for the first time.  As you can see in this video taken by Jenn Colby of the Vermont Center for Sustainable Agriculture, I had a lot of fun introducing her willing heifers to all kinds of plants growing in the pasture they were about to move to.

Julie wrote to say that she was really happy with the result.  In the past she’d found that heifers heading to pasture for the first time lost condition.  But not these gals.  Julie wrote:

“Their transition from dry hay and being fed to grazing was remarkable.  They didn’t get gaunt.  They didn’t seem lost.  And they are easy to handle.  A few of them had pink eye this week and I could halter each one to treat them.  Now I just need to share my enthusiasm for your work with others.”

Comments (1) »

  • Sherri says:

    I have a Jersey cow that I am milking. I have always been told you have to be careful what you feed your cow because it will affect the taste of the milk. I did find this to be true with some goats we babysat and milked. I feed my cow weeds all the time and have not noticed a change in the milk. Are there definately weeds to stay away from?

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