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Cattle Foraging Behavior in Leafy Spurge (Euphorbia esula)-Infested Rangeland

  • Rodney G. Lym (a1) and Donald R. Kirby (a2)

Abstract

Leafy spurge causes economic loss by reducing both herbage production and use. Herbage use by grazing cattle in various densities of leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula L. #3 EPHES) was evaluated over a 3-yr period in North Dakota. Forage production and disappearance were estimated in four density classes of leafy spurge. Use of cool- and warm-season graminoids, forbs, and leafy spurge was estimated during the middle and the end of each grazing season. Cattle used 20 and 2% of the herbage in the zero and low density infestations, respectively, by mid-season. Moderate and high density infestations were avoided until the milky latex in leafy spurge disappeared in early fall, and herbage availability in zero and low density infestations declined. Herbage use in moderate and high density infestations increased to an average of 46% by the end of the grazing season compared to 61% in zero and low density infestations. An annual herbage loss of at least 35% occurred in pasture infested with 50% density or more of leafy spurge.

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