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9 toxic weeds to look for in hay, pasture

Slideshow: If pastures are overgrazed or looking thin, your livestock might munch on potentially dangerous weeds.

Chris Torres

July 29, 2020

9 Slides
Eastern Black Nightshade

Do you know what toxic weeds might be lurking in your hay or pastures? Scouting is the No. 1 way of figuring out what’s growing, but you should know what you’re looking at.

With the help of Penn State Extension, Cornell Cooperative Extension and University of Vermont Extension, American Agriculturist has accumulated a list of some of the most toxic weeds and plants that might be growing in your pastures right now.

These bad weeds are often unpalatable to livestock, but when it’s hot and dry, and pastures are either overgrazed or looking bare, animals won’t hesitate to at least have a look and maybe take a bite or two.

Penn State Extension recommends that if you have hay from a field that has weeds you believe are poisonous, the first thing to do is to keep that hay separated from the rest of your supply. Once it’s mixed with the rest of the feed, it will be impossible to separate. There is not only the concern of feeding the weed to your livestock, but also introducing that seed into a new area of your operation through feeding or manure.

Click through the slideshow to get a look at the top nine potentially toxic weeds in hay and pasture, along with recommendations on control.

A disclaimer from Penn State: This paper is not intended to be a substitute for veterinary medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of a licensed veterinarian, or other licensed or certified veterinary medical professional with any questions you may have regarding a veterinary medical condition or symptom.

Related:Livestock, forage producers warned about nitrate toxicity

About the Author(s)

Chris Torres

Editor, American Agriculturist

Chris Torres, editor of American Agriculturist, previously worked at Lancaster Farming, where he started in 2006 as a staff writer and later became regional editor. Torres is a seven-time winner of the Keystone Press Awards, handed out by the Pennsylvania Press Association, and he is a Pennsylvania State University graduate.

Torres says he wants American Agriculturist to be farmers' "go-to product, continuing the legacy and high standard (former American Agriculturist editor) John Vogel has set." Torres succeeds Vogel, who retired after 47 years with Farm Progress and its related publications.

"The news business is a challenging job," Torres says. "It makes you think outside your small box, and you have to formulate what the reader wants to see from the overall product. It's rewarding to see a nice product in the end."

Torres' family is based in Lebanon County, Pa. His wife grew up on a small farm in Berks County, Pa., where they raised corn, soybeans, feeder cattle and more. Torres and his wife are parents to three young boys.

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