image courtesy of the Missouri Department of Conservation

Pastures, goats benefit from grazing an invasive species

Cattle don't like eating sericea lespedeza, an invasive species in Missouri pastures. But goats do, according to research at the University of Missouri's Land of the Osages Research Farm in central Missouri.
MU Extension forage specialist Harley Naumann found that goats are also getting a health benefit from sericea lespedeza.
"It works as a natural anti-parasitic," said Naumann. This is because of the condensed tannins produced by the plant.
At the end of the first year of the study, he found as much as a 51 percent decline in fecal egg counts, using no dewormers or other medications.
While one season of grazing didn't decrease the invasive species, Naumann said it increased both warm- and cool-season grasses. In addition, the grazing decreased the presence of less desirable plants such as sedges.
"We are trying to promote some of our native warm-season grasses that we initially established in these fields that have been overrun by sericea lespedeza," he said. "Primarily big bluestem and Indian grass. But cool-season grass species such as tall fescue responded favorably, too."
Cattle do not like to graze on sericea lespedeza because of the bitter taste and the woody stems in mature plants. But goats seem to like the taste and have no problems chewing the woody stems.
Nauman is involved with the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources' Center for Regenerative Agriculture, the Center for Agroforestry and the Native Grass project team.
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