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View Full Version : Let's discuss Crabgrass for grazing



spotnnotfarm
Jun. 14, 2010, 06:50 AM
I have two pasture that I am rehabbing. One pasture is doing very good and by fall should be in great shape. However my back pasture is full of crabgrass. I need to rest the first pasture so I turned everyone out on the back today and started looking into crabgrass on the internet.

I always thought it was a weed but now many use it as forage. Does anyone have information on it? I battle it every year and now I am wondering if I should leave it alone. Does anyone have thoughts on it?

minnie
Jun. 14, 2010, 08:14 AM
My horses love it!

SkipHiLad4me
Jun. 14, 2010, 08:26 AM
Crabgrass is great! It's very nutritious and does well with drought and heavy grazing. The seed is also very cheap compared to other warm season grasses. It's an annual, but if you allow it the opportunity to seed out during the year, it will reseed itself for the next year and act as a perennial. Red River crabgrass out of OK is the most well known - and is the variety that I've had experience with - but I think there are other varieties that are starting to become available out there too. I have nothing bad to say about crabgrass.

SMF11
Jun. 14, 2010, 08:31 AM
I can't offer wisdom on crabgrass (though my pastures have it, and many other kinds of plants). Just that what we consider weeds, horses don't necessarily. My horses love to eat the plantains (at least I think that's what those broad leaved things are) which definitely fall into the weed category in my mind.

spotnnotfarm
Jun. 14, 2010, 09:31 AM
Thanks everyone! Is it very nutritious? Maybe I will not spray it!

pj
Jun. 14, 2010, 09:52 AM
Thanks everyone! Is it very nutritious? Maybe I will not spray it!

Don't!! We have a couple of paddocks where the crab grass takes over in the spring and summer and we encourage the heck out of it. We cheer it on :)
The horses love it and it seems to do a good job of keeping them in nice shape.
It and common burmuda will do when all the other won't. Count it as a blessing.

sk_pacer
Jun. 14, 2010, 10:11 AM
Yes, leave it, it forms a tough root system to help hold soil in place as well as providing graze. It's pretty commonly planted south of here where people change cultivated acres back to pasture - land is light, very hilly and prone to erosion, and crab grass grows quickly, makes that root mat and holds the soil.

millerra
Jun. 14, 2010, 10:33 AM
Just an FYI - my vet says that crab grass is VERY high in sugars (which is why horses love it) and he believes that it has caused more than one sensitive (e.g. IR or cushings) horse to founder.

I don't know if its true, but he's in general a wise old vet who's seen a lot...

scribbles
Jun. 14, 2010, 10:34 AM
yeah, i love crabgrass.. the horses have a much harder time killing it than many other grasses :)

deltawave
Jun. 14, 2010, 09:21 PM
Anything that's edible, non-toxic and that can survive in my pastures is welcome. :)

When the excavators scalped my entire big pasture down to BARE DIRT in an effort to improve the grading (I told them "spare as much grass as you can", which turned out to be a patch about 40 feet square in five acres!!) :eek: the ONLY thing that grew on that 5 acres that drought-afflicted summer was crabgrass. I seeded, I watered, I fertilized, I limed . . . NOTHING was going to grow until it rained, except the danged, dogged, tenacious stuff. Soon enough the "proper" grasses caught up, but there is still about 20% crabgrass in that pasture and as far as I'm concerned it's earned its place. :yes:

wsmoak
Jun. 14, 2010, 09:33 PM
Here is a UGA Cooperative Extension publication on forage grasses:

http://pubs.caes.uga.edu/caespubs/pubcd/B1351/B1351.htm

I have crabgrass too and was happy to see it listed as a palatable forage (for cows at least... but I figured horses wouldn't turn it down.)

2DogsFarm
Jun. 15, 2010, 06:51 AM
While it would be nice to have pastures that look like putting greens, the truth is horses will eat just about anything green.

My pastures are far from pristine - crabgrass is the least of my worries.

But I still have to call horses in for their grain, they'd rather be out grazing on whatever grows there.

I say Go, crabgrass!

Alagirl
Jun. 15, 2010, 11:13 AM
Just an FYI - my vet says that crab grass is VERY high in sugars (which is why horses love it) and he believes that it has caused more than one sensitive (e.g. IR or cushings) horse to founder.

I don't know if its true, but he's in general a wise old vet who's seen a lot...


Call me puzzled, but I thought it was the other way, crab grass hay was less in sugar or something, desirable but hard to come by....

but I have not gone near coffee this morning, disregard...

millerra
Jun. 15, 2010, 11:20 AM
AGirl - I honestly don't know - just repeating.

And crabgrass hay? You can find that? I would think it would be an absolute nightmare to cut w/ low yields.

Question: is all crabgrass the same across the country? Our crabgrass is this low growing stuff - grows in a tuff, too and likes to spread out feelers to grow new plants. The feelers are very tough. It's not at all like regular grass for hay... It tends to grow in the low spots or in poor/sandy soil.

Piatt Farms
Jun. 15, 2010, 02:32 PM
Can you buy crabgrass seeds? All I see on the internet are ways to kill it.

SkipHiLad4me
Jun. 15, 2010, 03:26 PM
Yes - google Red River Crabgrass and you can find a few vendors out there.

Alagirl
Jun. 15, 2010, 03:31 PM
Can you buy crabgrass seeds? All I see on the internet are ways to kill it.

LOL, I know, crazy!
I thought it was a Hagar the Horrible joke...:lol:

SkipHiLad4me
Jun. 15, 2010, 05:18 PM
Crabgrass actually makes great hay. It's somewhat challenging to bale correctly though since the thick stems are hard to get dried down. It looks ugly as sin too (brown and gnarly looking) but usually has great quality! :yes:

millerra
Jun. 15, 2010, 07:46 PM
wow. Crabgrass hay! never would have guessed that! Learn something new every day.

It sounds sort of like clover around here in that it is hard to get baled dry and looks a bit nasty even when cured properly. The leaves and flowers turn very dark.

(not suggesting they're the same!)

GraceLikeRain
Jun. 15, 2010, 09:34 PM
Also a supporter of crabgrass, all our horses seem to enjoy it

Dalemma
Jun. 16, 2010, 09:46 AM
Just one caution about crabgrass.....it has a very shallow root that pulls out easily.....I know some one (relatives) in the Yakima Valley who had horses and let them crabgrass on their hillside and ended up getting really sick not from the grass itself but from the roots that were covered in sand........when the horses snatched at the grass to eat the tops the whole plant came out roots, dirt and all........they ate the entire plant......so they ended up ingesting a lot of sand. I think if it is grown in a hard compacted soil you might be okay but if is grown in a sandy soil you might have problems.

I have a bit of it in my pasture from my neighbours weed patch and my horses do not eat it or if they do it is the last grass they eat.

Dalemma