AoR 8: Karen Launchbaugh, Targeted Grazing to Control Weeds

Ralph Waldo Emerson said that a weed is "a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered". Tip's guest, Karen Launchbaugh, says that some "plants out of place" present serious ecological and ecological challenges to land managers but that some unwanted plants have redeeming qualities, particularly for domestic grazing animals. They discuss exotic species, various control strategies for weeds, success stories, integrated pest management principles, and, of course, using specific grazing timing and intensity and class of animal to suppress weed populations. 


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>> Welcome to The Art of Range, a podcast focused on rangelands and the people who manage them. I'm your host Tip Hudson, range and livestock specialist with Washington State University Extension. The goal of this podcast is education and conservation through conversation. Find us online at

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My guest for today on the Art of Range is Karen Launchbaugh. Karen, welcome to the show.

>> Oh, good to be back, thanks.

>> You're the only person who's gotten a repeat [laughter] invitation, so we must have done all right the first time. We wanted to talk a bit today about what is termed targeted grazing or sometimes prescription grazing. I'm not sure coined the term, but the idea is that it's possible in some circumstances and maybe also desirable to carefully plan and implement specific timing, duration and intensity of grazing to achieve a really specific vegetation management goal, and you've done some of the work to get these ideas into the mainstream. Tell us how you got into the concept of targeted grazing?

>> Well, as you know, my background is in; I came off a ranch, so I really was intrigued early on about the pasture line contrasts, you know, why was something happening on one side and not the other, so that got me interested in diet selection and why animals were choosing what. So, I went into nutrition and worked in animal behavior, and that just kept going. And, the real application of understanding animal behavior, of course, is to try to change the ecosystem or to figure out why it changed from whatever grazing event there was. So targeted grazing was just an effort of me and many others trying to think about how; now that we know something about grazing, could we turn that into a tool. And so targeted grazing came around about 10 years ago when the term was coined. Of course, we've been doing grazing for a long time and we've been managing it and we've been affecting the environment. But, this has just kind of upping the ante and trying to be more specific. So, that's how I got into it; just a real curiosity.

>> Mmm hmm. Fred Provenza calls that interaction a dance; where the environment affects the animal and the animal also influences the environment. What we want to talk about is grazing to suppress unwanted plants and maybe I gave away my definition of a weed, but we often talk about trying to get rid of weeds, whether that's through, you know, a mechanical treatment or chemical treatment or say a biological treatment with a predatory insect that can inhibit reproduction. What would say a weed is?

>> Well, you gave the most common one is a plant that's not wanted to its at that time.

>> Mmm hmm.

>> I love Thoreau, has, he calls, he says it's a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered and maybe we'll talk a little bit about some values of weeds that are actually beneficial, so there are some virtues to these plants that we hate, but most people understand what weeds are and by the book definition, they are things that have ecological damage to the ecosystem. It usually we think often about plants, but also soils, insects, wildlife, livestock; all of those ecological impacts of these plants that somehow interfere with the ecology of what we want the land to look like. The other real human. Weeds don't exist if it's a human construct. So, weeds are the things that we don't like, because they reduce economic value or they cost money, one or the other. And then also, don't forget about human health risks and things that happen; like poison hemlock and some of those that can be quite bad for human health. So, it's ecological, but it's also a human-based construct.

>> Mmm hmm. Are all of the plants that we don't want from somewhere else; in other words, not native to the environment in which we find them; that we're trying to rid them from?

>> Yeah, right, well, that's the first thing you've got to understand when, you know, there's a lot of language when you start talking about invasive plants and weeds and exotic plants, but, weeds are bad things and exotic plants would things that didn't come from around here. They came from somewhere else. We find a lot of plants that came from Eurasia for example, because we have kind of Eurasian climate and so, a lot of plants were pre-adapted to our area, so those exotics or ones that are not indigenous to here. Those come over and those either came here on purpose for lots of good reasons; we wanted to bring them over and add some value to the ecosystem, or they were brought over and then we found that they were pretty bad, either accidentally or on purpose. So, not all exotic plants are weeds and not all weeds are exotics. Most are; most of the ones that we spend money on and really control are not from North America, because the ones in North America have often reached some sort of equilibrium. They're kind of at a level, they're not getting to be a lot more, but that's not true with every plant. The two good examples I can think of that most people would say are weeds, but they're completely native, would be junipers and mesquite in Southwest. Yeah, they've been here forever. You know, they're completely native, but things have changed, mostly fire regimes have changed and now they're getting out of control. So, western juniper, especially the one we deal with in the Pacific Northwest way more than we used to have; it's been here all the time. It's a native plant. We just have too much and it's getting more and more all the time.

>> So the weediness of a plant like that is related to the degree, related to the degree rather than presence.

>> Yeah, you mean, the degree and not the.

>> It's only a problem if it's there at a high level?

>> That's right. It's, a lot of plants, even exotic plants when they come in, sometimes they'll stay in the ecosystem and they're not much problems; they're just kind of there.

>> Right.

>> We don't really get worried about them until they start taking over and pushing other things out, and the same, whether the plant's native or exotic. When they start taking over the neighborhood, then we start worrying about them.

>> Yeah, and that reminds me about one of the terms that's commonly used in the world of weeds, which is noxious. When we say noxious weed, I think we usually mean that the plant is one that doesn't just peacefully coexist. It's one that displaces other things that we would like better.

>> But not.

>> Right?

>> Right, that's true, but noxious has a much more specific meaning than that. So, noxious weeds are kind of like the, the worst type of noxious weeds. They're so bad that they're declared by law to be noxious. So the Noxious Weed Act of 1974 was a national act that provided some resources for weeds. This act; we often think of the Noxious Weed Act as the one that declared which plants on the list, which are on the, you know, wanted list.

>> Right.

>> But that, we acted quite a bit more. It provided funding for states and authorities to control weeds. It also required training of people. So, that was when we first started realizing that you had to have training to do weed control. And it required that agencies and organizations, especially federal agencies, must control weeds that are on that list, but furthermore, anything that's on that noxious weed list and if you've got it on your property, you must control it, whether you're a federal agency or not and the teeth in the law was that if you don't control it, you could face fines often times and just costs against your deed; you'll see those as costs from the county. The other thing that's kind of cool about that law, is that it's national and then tiers down to state. So, we have national noxious weeds and we have state noxious weeds. So the ones in Washington a little different than the ones in Idaho, and then some counties even have noxious weeds.

>> Simply lists.

>> Yeah, like Asodin County has a very strong noxious weed list, where they're really paying attention to the ones in their county.

>> Right.

>> So, a lot of people don't realize that noxious is really just a term that has to do with that noxious weed law, even though they really are kind of bad things. Another thing that I think people get confused when they talk about noxious is they think that most weeds are toxic. Maybe it's because the X in both words, but noxious and toxic, no. In fact, most weeds are not toxic. There's far more deadly native plants that are toxic than noxious, so they don't necessarily have to be toxic to be on the noxious weed list.

>> Mmm hmm. Going back to something you said earlier. I was trying to think of plants that are exotic that we consider desirable and the first thing that comes to mind are some non-native perennial grasses that we plant in places where there; I call it a functional native. They occupy roughly the same nitch as a native perennial grass would, but they happen to come from somewhere else. Are there some examples of that you can think of?

>> Well, probably the one that I think of first that is probably on your mind is crested wheat grass. Of course, some people really hate crested wheat grass, but it's a perennial bunch grass. It does stabilize the soil. It's not terribly invasive. Many places, you can still see the rows it was planted in 50-60 years ago and it's completely naturalized; the term I would use it, you know, it's acting native. So, it's naturalized. It's adjusted to our climate and our environment really well. So, that's the one that really comes to mind. And then there's other that like a smooth roam, is one that it certainly being natural and it's adapted well. But it is starting to increase and is causing a problem in many places in the west also. And then there are some that are just stable. The other one that I think of; now you've got me started on grasses, but the one that I think of is reed canary grass. I mean that is totally; it's here to stay, and I'm not actually sure why it was introduced, but it is stabilizing stream banks and cutting out all the other natives, but it's stable.

>> Right.

>> It's adjusted to our environment for sure.

>> My understanding is that it had come into the Midwest to be used as a hay crop, but it seems the variety or the subspecies that lives in the Pacific Northwest is a little bit different, has a higher silica content and seems to be less desirable than what they have in the Midwest.

>> Yeah, it's, but, it's here to stay. It's naturalized. A really good example of a plant that is acting pretty native, except that it often pushes other plants out.

>> We mentioned in the episode with Kurt Davies on invasive annual grasses that sheet grass is one that came from the Mediterranean. It seems like we have quite a few others that came from Mediterranean. Are there other parts of the world that we have a lot of invasive plants from?

>> Well, in the Pacific Northwest, certainly a lot came from the Mediterranean, because we have a Mediterranean climate, but then, every time you start looking at weeds and it says the origin, a lot came from Eurasia; so that sort of highlands country where they had winters, you know, in the Southeastern part of Asia for example, that's one of the places that sheet grass probably came as a kind of sort of Mediterranean climate, but places that had cold winters for us are usually where we got weeds. We have some from Africa. One that we'll probably talk about is ventinata, which is maybe Dr. Davies did talk about that one; it's a new one on the neighborhood and it's from Africa. It's also called South Africa grass. And in Texas, in the Southwest, of course, they face a lot of problems with, you know, African and South American plants, because they have a warmer climate and they have warm season plants. But for us, since we are a cooler climate, we're looking mostly at cool season plants that came from Eurasia and Mediterranean-type climates.

>> One of the reasons for considering grazing as a mechanism to control some of those unwanted species is because it tends to be; it can be implemented at lower cost than some of the other measures; especially when we're talking about thousands or tens of thousands of range land. It's a use that's already there that doesn't require necessarily a lot of additional costs, compared to say using herbicide on thousands and thousands of acres. But the comment of where plants came from, made me think of some of the different terms that are used in weed suppression. One of them is biological control. Another one is cultural control. And when we say biological control, we're often referring to some biological mechanism, like a natural pest organism that would suppress the plant. Can you distinguish between those two?

>> Yeah. So you're absolutely right. Biological control or classical biological control, they often call it, is really when you have an organism that has just one host. It's an all or none deal, so the insects that we introduce to the US as biological control agents, they are exclusive to one species; whatever we introduce them too; spotted knapweed, leafy spurge, etc. So that's the differences; they're very exclusive to their host. As you know sheep and goats and cows, they'll eat a lot of different things, so they are not a classical bio control.

>> Right.

>> So, they fit in that role of cultural, which is a way where we change our normal management to really focus more on invasive plants.

>> Right.

>> And so you, I mentioned a little bit about if you think about targeted grazing, it does, or any type of grazing to manage weeds, it comes across a large spectrum, from just making some small changes, like changing the season when you're in pastures or, you know, it's not really a big change, but you're just going change the way you sort of do your rotation to try to affect a weed. That's pretty low cost often, because it's just a small change in management and it can be really effective. The other side of that is just really targeted, really one very specific goal, where you're bringing animals in at a very specific time at really specific densities and that can actually be quite expensive, so the more specific you get, the more expensive it gets. And so, grazing to manage weeds really comes across that whole continuum. You know, one of the advantages of targeted grazing is that it can be used when other things can't. It can be used on really steep terrain where your only other option might be aerial spraying, which is really expensive. It's not nearly as dangerous as fire. Prescribed fire can be really effective for woody plants, etc., but you know, you can round the cows and sheep up at the end of the season, and you can't always do that with fire, so it's a lower risk than that. It's also lighter on the ground than mechanical; like big shredders or big mowing-types of machines. Yeah, sure, cows and sheep and goats have an impact, a hoof impact, but they're not loud. They don't require, you know, gasoline or petroleum products and they're pretty light on the ground. So they have, each of those tools has a role, but cattle and sheep and goat and target grazing is kind of in the middle, that nitch.

>> When we're using animals to try to control a weed species; by control, we mean that we're trying to reduce the population, inhibit seed production, what are the actual biological mechanisms from the plant perspective that we're trying to interrupt or inhibit or affect with the grazing animals?

>> Yeah, good question, when people think about weed control, they all, you know, they just want it gone. It's like; they just want it completely gone. It's really about integrating it and what's the level that you can tolerate. So, when could you get the weed down to a level where the natives or your other desirable species could live on and the wildlife might not be terribly affected? So there's that kind of, you know, suppression but not complete eradication. Complete eradication is very expensive and it's, of course a goal, but it's seldom a goal of regular cultural types of practices. What we're doing with targeted grazing and other things is just get it down to some level we can live with. And usually that's keeping track of the seeds; keeping the seed production down and reducing competition. So, I think of targeted grazing as just, there's two players, the desirables and the undesirables, and you're trying to nick away at those undesirables and make them less competitive.

>> The most desirables.

>> Exactly, kind of take the rug out from underneath them.

>> Right.

>> You know, for example grazing; long, long, long, we've known that grazing reduces root mass if it's done consistently, because roots really respond, they really require above the ground bio mass to photosynthesize and give them the carbon they need. So, one thing we know, is we can use grazing to reduce root mass. That's a great way to reduce competition of an undesirable plant. So, I don't know, kind of in summary then, I just think that target grazing is just trying to nick away at those weeds and make them less competitive, so they're not going to win the fight; that the desirable plants will be winner. And it could happen over a long time, but that's all, that's, we're trying to shift the balance.

>> Yeah, that reminds me of some guidelines from Dr. Sherm Swanson regarding riparian grazing where he says you want more good than bad; where you could list a couple dozen variables in grazing that may have a net positive effect, but a mild one, or a net negative effect in a mild way. And you want to do more of good than bad, so that you, in general shift or tilt the playing field in favor of the plants that you want to keep.

>> Right, tilt the playing field; that's well said.

>> What are some general principles then for grazing to control weeds? You know, we've got perennial plants, annual plants. If we were talking about herbicide control, you would have different strategies for perennials versus annuals and for grasses versus broadleaf plants. What are some guidelines to start out with?

>> Yeah, guidelines is a good word for it. The term prescriptive grazing is maybe a little misleading. It's not really very strong prescription like you might have with a chemical, where you follow the.

>> A curable.

>> Guide. Yeah, you follow what's on the label; the prescription.

>> Right.

>> Targeted grazing is more about guidelines. Again, just trying to shift the balance a little bit and being patient, because it's just a way of sort of changing what you're doing, and I love, I love Sherm Swanson's ideas about just try to do a little better than not, and in the long run, you'll come out okay. We didn't get into some of these messes overnight, so we're not going to get out of them overnight. And people are not patient, and that's why herb, that's why they love herbicides. You go out and spray and sometimes you can see the difference, you can see those weeds just hanging their heads over the next day and that's reinforcing. Targeted grazing is more like a longer term commitment and even might be lifetime or generations of commitment that we have now. Having said that, there are a lot of things that we do that if we're just patient and just keep following those guidelines, we can have profound differences. I think about some cool research that was done in California where all they did was they started using cattle; I think, most cattle and maybe some sheep, to graze areas that had been invaded by Medusa head and it wasn't like it was terribly prescriptive; it was just kind of graze it in the spring. They have done some really good research about trying when exactly should you graze and should you graze once or twice, but there was this study; just, well, just graze sometimes in spring. And they put it all, there's plots all the way across California and just really did see some strong reductions in Medusa head; even though we don't think of cattle and sheep as really eating much Medusa head.

>> Right.

>> There's something they do in the ecosystems, maybe nipping it a little or just disturbing it a little, that it's changing. So, that's just a guideline; just graze it in spring. A little good, more good than bad. Or leafy spurge like the prescription, to graze leafy spurge is graze it until you can't see yellow anymore. Well, that doesn't really sound like a recipe, but it's a guideline. It's just something that's worked over time. I will say where we got some of these prescriptions, you'll find on the targeted grazing website,; that there's two handbooks. One if the handbook we've been talking about and another one is called "Targeted Grazing Guidelines for Plants". The way we got those early on is we just started calling people. We got on the phone with anybody that said they had used animals to control weeds and we said, oh, when did you do it? What kind of animal did you use? Did you do anything special? How long did you leave them in? And so, the field of targeted grazing more out of just people practicing it then actually research. We never could do enough replicated research with four controls and two treatments; we could never do that for every weed that exists, but just people's experience capturing that and getting it up online gives us those guidelines that we talk about.

>> I think that's pretty legitimate. About five or six years ago, Dr. Temple Grandin gave the keynote address at the Society for Range Management. And this was one of her big messages, is that we used to do research by observing things in the real world and noticing things that appeared to be causal, and then trying to tease those out with more structured research, but that's how good research gets done, is by observing things that appear to be true in the real world with people that actually practicing it. And then trying to drill down to determine if it's just association or there's actually causation there.

>> Yeah, if it works, keep doing it. You don't always have to understand why it's working. Now as a scientist, I should probably wash my mouth out with soap, because we really do need to know the mechanisms behind something, because that will help us apply it in other places, but sometimes there's just not enough time or money to, you know, nick out all of those mechanisms. So, people's experience on the ground is hugely important.

>> So some of those specific mechanisms with weed control stopping seed production or consuming seeds before they're spread on the ground. Could it also include intending to starve the plant by reducing the amount of, you know, leaf area that's available to feed the plant?

>> Yeah, right. If you reduce leaf area, then you reduce root growth if you do it consistently and again, that'll shift the balance back to your desirable plants. Reducing seed production is very important, somehow making them more vulnerable to the environment. As you know, there's some research out about winter grazing of cheek grass and it turns out, it is fairly effective in drier climates, and it's not because the animals are eating the; it turns out, I don't think it's because they're eating the cheek grass. It's because they're eating other things that are making the environment less favorable for germination. So, sometimes it's changing the environment in ways so that it's just less favorable for the growth and sometimes it's actually having a direct effect on the plant, either through seeds or biomass.

>> I don't know whether you heard the episode with Dr. Kurt Davies, but this was one of the things their trying to drill into at the Burns Research Station with invasive angle grass is this fall and winter grazing; one of the mechanisms that they believe is effective is disrupting the litter layer. You know, one that provides a safe place for all of these invasive grass seeds to germinate. The other is that having that litter layer or a persistent thick litter layer prevents everything else from getting a foothold.

>> Right, now they're doing some great work down there at ARS and Burns, and Dr. Davies is certainly right at the forefront of that. What's interesting though; what you said about sometimes learning things, learning that they work out on the ground and then figuring out why, and that's what they're doing. A few researchers in Nevada found out that gee, just sort of they talked to some people and they said, well, that winter grazing thing seems to work, so they started just trying it and it turns out it worked, but they had really no idea why. And it's Kurt Davies and their crew that's really figuring out the why. Now, once we figure out why, it might help us understand other plants; more annual grasses or other annual plants.

>> Mmm hmm. The other upside of that winter grazing is that it tends to be really beneficial for the perennial native bunch grasses.

>> Yeah, yeah, right, because they're dormant.

>> Right.

>> You know, you can't hurt them, well, you can hurt them removing so very close to the base, but by in large, they're very tolerate of grazing in the winter.

>> It's like standing hay.

>> Yeah. And the other, the other thing that's useful if you're grazing in the fall or winter, and this is, you know, everyone knows this is; you know, you know how much biomass you have. You're not guessing about how much growth you're going to get. You know what you have, so you can stock pretty carefully and you can make pretty good guessed about how many animals you need. And so, that's also kind of useful. Berry Perriman is the professor at University of Nevada, Reno that really started seeing this and seeing if it would work, and yeah, he's pushing the bar, and who'd of thought that after for a hundred, we've been dealing with cheek grass over a hundred years and who'd of thought that now we have some new ideas on how to deal with cheek grass?

>> You know one risk in targeted grazing is forcing animals to eat something that could be harmful to them or is harmful if they eat it in excessive amounts or they get too much poor quality feed. Talk about targeted grazing from the animals' perspective and things that we have to watch out for to avoid overdoing it, because they're not just biological combines.

>> Yeah, that's right. I love that targeted grazing is this nice mix of animal husbandry and plant knowledge, you know, so you can't be a good targeted grazer if you don't understand the plants. When they're susceptible to grazing, how nutritious they are, if they're toxic and then also the desirable plants when they're susceptible to grazing, so you've got to know that your plant ecology, but you also have to be a good animal person. You got to know about animal husbandry. You got to be watching animals. They'll tell you when things are getting tough. As you know from your discussion with Fred Provenza, that, you know, the animals are smarter than us about what to eat or what not to eat. It's hard for us to poison an animal in a setting; they can usually figure it out. There are, of course, some that are quite toxic, but as far as weeds, there are very few that are just deadly. They just have these secondary compounds that reduce their palatability. So what we see most with targeted grazing is just some loss, weight loss, so when a good targeted grazer, you have to let go of the idea that they're trying to have some weight gain or some beautiful heavy animals. They're using the animals for a different purpose, so rather than producing meat, we're trying to manage the ecosystem. That comes at a price, usually of weight gain. Yeah, good targeted grazers also make sure there's plenty of minerals, because that detoxification system inside the animal requires quite a few minerals to be really up and going and since most weeds have some anti-quality factor, then the animals have to deal with that. I saw most weeds have anti-quality factors. If they didn't, if they were completely delicious and nutritious, they probably wouldn't be weeds. So the ones that we deal with the most are the ones that have, are some reason animals don't like them, and so good animal husbandry, understanding the animal, making sure they have the nutrients and the minerals that they need and plenty of water, then it's just a matter of kind of letting go of your goals for production and focus on your goals for the environment.

>> Mmm hmm. Those plants are invasive because they either have extremely effective reproductive strategies or they successfully avoid grazers or they're resistant to kind of grazing that they would ordinarily receive and can still reproduce and flourish. Are there other mechanisms that would make an invasive species particularly invasive and resistant to grazing control?

>> Yeah, the other two that I think that or two or three that I think are important when we think about noxious and invasive plants is one, at least in the Pacific Northwest, several of our plants are problems because they get an edge on the native plants, so they're annuals that are winter annuals. We didn't have name winter annuals native to North America. There's just not very many in our neck of the woods. So, when plants came like cheek grass or yellow star thistle or others came in and they winter annuals, they survived over the winter. They were there ready to go in the spring. So, one thing that weeds, some of the weeds that we face are worse is because of their ability to get a jump and use the nutrients and the moisture before the natives kind of wake up from the winter. So timing is a big one and then also, many of the invasive plants we have are just really good at seed dissemination. I'm thinking about Holland's tongue. Man, that plant was just designed to spread seeds all over and not many native plants are as good at that game. So, they're really good at producing a lot of seeds, getting them to other places. The seeds are generally; disturbance favors them, so hooves and areas that are disturbed are favored and then they often get a jump on the game, because they are over wintering and they're there when the moisture is there.

>> Mmm hmm. We don't have time for a thorough discussion for a lot of specific problem plants across the country and whether grazing can be effectively used to control them, but we can discuss some of the ones that are common to the Pacific Northwest. What specific weed species do you see that are a direct threat to the rangeland health or, you know, ranch economics in the Northwest?

>> Well, I'm glad you talked to Dr. Davies, because the three he's working on, cheek grass, Medusa head and ventinata are certainly high on my list. They're problematic, because they do come in and invade and actually push out the natives, especially because cheek grass and how it fuels the fire cycle, which is another down side to some weeds, as they change the fire cycle. So, they're high on my list, but we won't talk a lot about those. Other ones that I think targeted grazing can be used more for that are a problem are yellow star thistle, for example, across all the west from California and right up the Rockies. Rush skeleton week, another problem; because it has that very, that seed that can just go for miles. It can get into these wind cycles and be spread for miles. Leafy spurge is bad. It has that underground root structure that is really pernicious, just really aggressive. White top, man, you go to some places in Oregon and you just think that you just came across a lake it's so white. It's just white top, and that plant, that's a real challenge, it can really come in and become monocultures. Hounds tongue, I mentioned, I don't like that one, just because it does spread up in some of the higher elevations. So, that's just some of the forbs that I think we should be paying a lot of attention to that have been with us for 40 years now. We've been working at them, but they're going to be around for awhile longer.

>> So, the million dollar question is, have any of those been effectively controlled by grazing? Are there any success stories with those big problem plants.

>> The one that I think is moist, if you want to try to get rid of with grazing is leafy spurge. We can be very successful; not that it's easy, but man, I've seen some before and after pictures where it's the sheep; there's certain breeds of sheep, there's certain kinds of leafy spurge that are really delicious to sheep. There was a pretty cool study done in Montana a number of years ago where they; Barb Landgraf did a study where she had some sheep on a leafy spurge invested pasture and then on a native pasture. And of course, our assumption would have been that the sheep would have come back heavier and happier and healthier off the native, and it turned out that it was the other way; that the leafy spurge was really quite nutritious for those sheep. So they came back even heavier than if they had have been on the native pasture. They like it. Cows don't. Goats can be very effective also and it depends on the species, the breed and the kind of spurge. It looks like for example, spurge in Montana and North Dakota seems more palatable than some of the spurge that we have in Idaho. But, you can find a lot of fence line contrast where livestock came in right when it was flowering, grazed off those seed heads, the flowering bracks [assumed spelling], those yellow bracks, and once you quit seeing the yellow, take them away until you see it again; bring them in again. And over not, just a few years, four or five years, you can see really rapid reductions. I don't know if it's going on anymore, but just to keep talking about leafy spurge for a minute, when we first started realizing how effective sheep could be at controlling leafy spurge, there were cooperatives, cattle cooperatives in Montana that started hiring sheep producers to do their weed control.

>> Wow.

>> They were not going to become sheep guys; that was clear. They were going to be cattle guys and they had no intention of getting sheep and become sheep guys, but they would form a cooperative and bring sheep onto their property. Because their property was much more valuable to their cattle. They had more forage when the sheep came in and removed the spurge than if they weren't there. I'm not sure if those cooperatives are still going, but it was a pretty cool idea of kind of two species and two total different lifestyles taking advantage of both of these opportunities because of the species. So I keep talking about species. That's one other really important thing about targeted grazing is that the species of animals is really important and the background of the animal is important.

>> Because they have distinct foraging preferences.

>> That's right, so I went down this road on, I've done pretty interesting research on yellow star thistle, because I hate yellow star thistle. There's just very few things about it, although.

>> Who wouldn't?

>> Yeah, well honey's good, the star thistle honey, but other than that, I don't like yellow star thistle. It's not good for people and generally for livestock, and it is one of those winter annuals that can take over and remove some, kind of out compete some of the native grasses and then increase erosion and all those bad ecological factors. But we have a lot of it up here in the Snake River Planes and I thought, well, I wonder why cows and sheep don't eat it. We've got a lot of cows and sheep. Why don't we see if they eat it? So, my first round of studies was to look at the plant when it was bolting or when it was in rosette and then bolting and then flowering to see when, when in the plants lifecycle would it be most palatable and most susceptible to grazing? And then I used cattle and sheep because we had some at the University and I found some ranchers that would help me and we had some cattle and sheep, and it turns out cows and sheep don't like yellow star thistle. They eat it and it is quite nutritious when they eat, but the more you graze the star thistle, the more basal buds would be stimulated on the star thistle and in the end, you'd have more flowers than you had before. So, we never reduce the biomass and the number of flowers with cattle and sheep. So, I was about fit to be tied, ready to give up and then a friend of mine who runs a targeted grazing group said, well, Karen, why don't you try this. So, he said try some goats. I said, come on, I beat my head against the wall long enough, why would I try goats. But, he was persuasive and so we did use some goats on White Bird Grade and they were super-effective. We put the goats in, right even when it was in that spiny flower seed time and the goats just munched on it. So, the right species. We got them on late. We didn't want to put them on when it was flowering, but that turned out to be the right time, because at that time, most of the native grasses were kind of past seed set. This was in August and the yellow star thistle was flowering and those goats went in and just ate those seed heads off, which were really high in energy and nutritious and they didn't touch the grass. So after just a few years of that, we have grass coming; more grass and more forbs and less, like 80% less seed heads on yellow star thistle.

>> Wow. So, that's like before it, then you didn't necessarily have to concentrate them so far that they were just removing everything down to bare dirt including that; they would pick it out?

>> No, absolutely. They absolutely favored it.

>> Wow.

>> More than the native plants; the native forbs even. They favored the yellow star thistle over the native form. So, we got the sort of guideline right. We got the plan at the right time and we got the right animals. So, cattle and sheep, not effective. If you want to increase the amount of yellow star thistle, you could do it with cattle and sheep, but goats, easy. That worked really well.

>> Now, we just need a million of them?

>> Yeah, we do and they take, they use really high, really large country too, so that's good. The group that I worked with was the Prescribed Grazing Services. I'm going to.

>> Is that Ray Holtz?

>> Yeah, Ray Holtz, who does that and he was out of White Bird and I think he still does some work around here and he certainly is a master that combined the science, but also his own experience, and if it weren't for him, I wouldn't have tried it. But there's a lot of people that do use goats quite effectively on yellow star thistle. So that's one. Those are two that I think yeah, hands down you could get the right animal and the right time and the right people. You can make a difference on that. There's truth in advertising. There's some that are going to be real hard. White top or horey crest, oh, I know people have tried goats, but I've just not seen much success on that. That's really tough one, because it has such a vigorous underground root system.

>> Mmm hmm.

>> So, that one isn't going to happen; and then also, woody plants. We don't have a lot of woody plants that are noxious weeds in the west, but the one that comes to mind is salt cedar. That's a bad one and salt is so aversive to animals, animals can only.

>> Consume so much.

>> Use so much. There's a really high top line on that, that it's really hard to do targeted grazing of salt cedar. So, that's a tough one and Himalayan black, black berry, we're having more of that. It can be; you know animals can eat it, but that takes a little bit of skill to get rid of that Himalayan black berry.

>> I know Craig Matson, who has the business of Spokane, Healing Hoofs, does quite a bit of black berry control in places like ritzy neighborhoods in Seattle, where they'll bring the goats in and they'll just defoliate the plants.

>> Yeah and Craig is, he's also a master at it. He knows what to do when and uses both goats and sheep, I think, but he's been very effective on black berry and other woody plants on that side of the Rockies, or on that side of the state, on the east side.

>> It seems like targeted grazing takes quite a bit of thinking and a lot of work, is it possible to avoid these invasions in the first place if we manage right or is it just the connected world and there's going to be stuff running around?

>> Wow, you know, that, that is a good question. Think about that the other way around. Think about some weeds that we would have had if we had been grazing in certain ways, and the example I think is leafy spurge has gone up radically since the 80's, probably when I first started really seeing in and what happened to the 80's to the sheep industry; when we lost the wool incentive and we started really seeing a loss in the sheep. So the number of leafy spurge plants have gone up in complete opposite of the sheep numbers, and many people showed me that graph and said, wow, hum, there might be a correlation here. If we'd have just kept the sheep on the ground. Maybe they were always keeping it at a low level, and it turns out that pastures that are grazed by sheep do have less leafy spurge, just naturally, so if grazing is keeping it out sort of whether we know it or not. I guess another example I'll give. I was on our ranch tour on kind of the foot lands above Boise, those foothills above Boise, and we went across an area that had very little sheet grass and I thought, wow that's interesting. Because it seems like this would be a great place for cheek grass, and I asked the rancher why he thought he didn't have cheek grass there, and Charlie Ryan, who was entry, says well, it's cause I graze this every spring on my way up to my upper country. So just by grazing every spring, not heavily, just grazing across it as he's up to his upper country, he felt he had kept the cheek grass to a lower level. And I think that's true, that just sort of by always keeping it, nipping it down. So I think by, especially by grazing with sheep and goats or by grazing well in the winter or the spring, maybe we don't have as many weeds as we could. So one thing is there might be, if we're doing grazing right and we're keeping the healthy, the community healthy and the natives are competitive, we might have some weeds that aren't moving in and we'll never know. Like, this is the problem with weed control; you'll never know if you were successful. You'll never know if you were successful, because the reward is that you didn't have weeds. That's a terrible reward, but that's your reward, is that you didn't have weed. Another thing that we need to think about for weeds is always really think about how are those weeks getting into the property. So preventing them, looking at travel corridors, looking at the weeds that are next door that are down the windscape that might come onto the property and really paying attention to that, and then, making sure that your animals aren't coming onto your property. If you're moving up in higher elevation and coming back down to your base property, make sure you're not bringing weeds with you. That's relatively easy to do. Keeping animals on safe for example, old hayfields for a couple days; let the weeds pass their digestive tracts. Let them kind of shake off those weeks before you put them back on. Weeds don't last, most weeds don't last a lot time in the digestive tract or seeds are energy for the animal, so they generally digest nearly all of them. Some of the studies that I've done showed just fractions of a percent of seeds that we fed to animals came out viable. So, in general, they're collecting up seeds and they're making them less viable. There's some exceptions to that. But, so paying attention to how weeds are getting onto your property is really important. And then, also, just paying attention to your property. You know, because you work with ranchers too that; they know their plants, they know when something comes in that's unfamiliar. I often get calls from people that they say, hey, you know, I got this plant. It's on the dash of my pickup, you know.

>> Right.

>> And you know, there are certain places where you can send them and have them look or when I'm at peoples, we'll look. I'm sure you do too, because they notice when something's new. So, just noticing.

>> Early detection and rapid response.

>> Absolutely. So by paying attention in those corridors. I will say that targeted grazing is probably not for that early detection, rapid response. When you find new weeds and you know they're a weed, then get the most powerful tool you've got and herbicide usually and get rid of them. Targeted grazing would be more once you've gotten to the level where, man, you've got all these weeds and you need to do something with them.

>> And the other options are too expensive.

>> Yeah, but the other advantage of targeted grazing is you can turn it from a weed to a feed, so you're still sustaining an operation. Sometimes you'll pay a hit in gain, in weight gain, but you're still turning that weed, that things that's not valuable to you, into something that is, and that's where targeted grazing really, I think it really has a big nitch right there.

>> You mentioned the "Targeted Grazing Handbill" that's available at the website. Was the website

>> Mmm hmm, that's right.

>> Okay. One of the, one of the chapters in their lists a lot of the, a lot of common reasons; some specific recommendation.

>> Yes.

>> For how to manage those through targeted grazing and I was intrigued to find juniper in there. I would have not that juniper was one that you could very effectively control. What would the controlled mechanism look like for juniper?

>> Okay, I can tell you why you weren't thinking of it as being edible, is because the juniper we have in the west is western juniper, occidentalis. It's got a lot of terpenes on the leaf surface which are really adversive to animals. It's really, it's chocked full of these terpenes. What we know most about juniper control comes from Texas, where they have blueberry and red berry juniper where they have much less of these terpenes, so most of what we know about using livestock to manage juniper comes from there. Now having said that, some of the principles we know is that certainly animals that have good detoxification systems can use those terpenes. John Walker down at the Texas A&M Experiment Station near St. Angelo, he's actually been breeding one line of goats that are big juniper eating and one that are not, and they're diverging so that the ones that eat a lot of juniper, eat like four, five, six times more than a non-juniper eater. So, there's something that they inherit in that digestive system probably that allows them.

>> They tolerate more.

>> Yeah, they either process it or they just tolerate it; not sure which. It helps if they start young. It helps if they are, have good nutrition. That's an interesting thing; a lot of people that you starve animals onto weeds; in the case of juniper, you have to entice them on and generally, you entice them on with protein; protein and some energy. It gives them what they need to kind of really ramp up their systems and eat those terpenes and process them or get rid of them. So, we know quite a bit about using goats. I haven't seen much success with cattle or sheep, but goats can be quite successful. Now, we come fast forward to Oregon and the area that we deal with western juniper. There are some people that are doing things like when they're housing goats in the winter, just throw some old juniper trees in there. Just chop them down and throw them in there, because as they get dry, they lose a lot of those terpenes and animals might start nibbling on them. Plus, when they're in dry lot, they're bored, so they might try some more and it might ramp up that system of detoxification. So, I haven't completely given up on targeted grazing of western juniper, but it's a lot tougher deal. So, it is and having said that, what about, what about how many little trees there are out there that the goats are going along.

>> Take the top off.

>> They might eat those little trees. We may never know. They may not take down those big trees that are across the landscape. Maybe they're eating the little ones and keeping the density down. So, I think we have a lot to learn and that just having some animals in the system at the right time might really keep the density of junipers down. But, it's certainly not going to solve the big junipers that are taking over the landscape.

>> Speaking of shrubs, in parts of Washington State, sagebrush actually reproduces quite well, sometimes to the exclusion of other stuff that you would like to have, and I've been asked a number of times what is the recommendations for how a person can thin out sagebrush, not eliminate it, but thin it out? I believe a nature conservancy had some trials out for a little while in central Washington, trying to spray molasses on sagebrush to entice animals to eat it. They were also trying to do that sometimes in the winter and of course, it's a little difficult to get molasses spread in the wintertime [laughter], and what they found, I guess, incidentally, was that they got more canopy reduction from the animals stomping around through the sagebrush when it was really cold outside and the plants were more brittle. Has there been any other work done to try to get animals to eat sagebrush, maybe something besides the cattle, and is that effective?

>> Yeah, there's actually been quite a bit known on sagebrush, and I think it is a good tool for kind of thinning out sagebrush stands and not just mowing them over and just shredding them down.

>> Right.

>> Don't underestimate the power of the hoof. You know, feeding animals on sagebrush in the winter might be one way to kind of tromp some of that down and kind of rejuvenate it. It's pretty small scale, but it can be useful in certain places. I've done some; I'm sorry I said junipers; I'm talking about sagebrush now; tromping it down.

>> Right.

>> But, I've done some work in looking at the terpenes in sagebrush and they really do become less abundant in the winter, so we often see animals shift their diet to sagebrush later in the fall. And so we'll see increased amount of sagebrush eaten in the fall and winter eaten in the fall and winter than in the spring and summer. Maybe it's partly because there's other things available, but also the terpenes are becoming less. We also know that sheep inherit the ability to detoxify terpenes. It's about; well, I think we talked about this earlier, the EPD is like 25% inheritability on that, and so, sheep that eat a lot of sagebrush will pass that onto their young that will eat more sagebrush. So, the ideas of getting more animals eating sagebrush could happen. I'm surprised that molasses worked; not to say that it wouldn't, because the animals do like that energy source, but tend to think about more important is protein, so at least having a combination of those and Roger Banner and Beth Bird out of Utah State did some really cool research where they fed animals. It was a grain and protein diet and then they let them out to range, and they ate a lot more sagebrush than if they were not supplemented. So again, enticing animals onto sagebrush, instead of starving them onto it. Also, I've done some work with animals and age and body condition, and young animals that are in; kind of thinner young animals, will eat more than older fat animals. So, paying a little attention to what you have out there and what you've using for management. But I, I really think we could have significant effects on using animals, sheep or goats, to control or to manage sagebrush; not stop it, not cut it down, but just kind of open it up. Get some more plants between there, get some forbs in there and revise that system. And then having said that, I think you and I talked earlier about grazed systems have more insects, and so, we're worried about sagebrush, of course, because we worry about birds like sage grouse and sage thrashes, and.

>> That rely on pollinators.

>> Yeah. And so insects that they eat for diets, but also pollinators, and so that might become a side benefit of having grazed animals in the ecosystem.

>> Yeah, speaking of pollinators, I wanted to go back to our discussion about biological control insect. At least with a couple of problems, weed species like nap weed in the Pacific Northwest, there's some fairly mature efforts to get biological control insects out there and those have been fairly effective. That's been happening for long enough that we can see the results from that. A lot of times the recommendations for people that are using these control insects is that you shouldn't have grazing in places where you've put out the insects and would like them, you know, to be feeding on the plant population. How commonly is that a conflict, and should we be concerned about that?

>> Yeah, certainly. When you've gone to all the energy and effort to get biological controls and release them onto a property, you're really afraid of letting animals come in there and disturb them, and there's some reasons why that might be bad. For example, if you have insects that are attacking the seed head and we know that animals are going to come in, they're going to come in and they're going to like those flowers.

>> You got to leave the seed heads.

>> However, there is another side to that story, so I see where that comes from. Just logically, it sounds like, oh my gosh, we really want those insects to do their job. The other side is, when we talk about sort of prey predator relationships, remember the overlapping curves. The predator will go up until the prey gets on top of it and then, I'm sorry.

>> Then they crash.

>> Yeah, the predator gets on top of the prey and it goes down.

>> Right.

>> So, one theory has been that grazing might be that predator that would reduce some of those seed heads so that the bio control agents could get on top of the prey quicker; in other words, so that these two animals, the insect and the sheep or the goat could be working in tandem.

>> Right.

>> And that could be really beneficial. There is a couple threads of research that say that that's true. It's probably more useful in stem or root boring critters.

>> Some seed head weevils.

>> Yeah.

>> Just to spell that out, you're saying that if animals graze some of the seed heads, that reduces the total number of seed heads or plants out there so that the amount of insects are sufficient to get to all of them, instead of just a small portion.

>> That's right.

>> Okay.

>> And so that we might, as long as we're not; as long as the sheep aren't eating the insects, you know.

>> Right.

>> That's, that's the thing we don't want to have happen. The research that we mentioned about yellow star thistle that we did in the Snake River Plains, it was actually just overlooking Lewiston. We actually had a graduate student; Linda Wilson was the professor and a graduate student that worked on looking at insects. So they actually had cages in our grazed pastures where they were looking to see if insects were affected by our grazing treatments, and they looked at four bio control agents of yellow star thistle; insects that were introduced to try to get rid of star thistle and then across all our grazing treatments and in none of our treatments did we ever see an effect of the grazing animal on reducing the viability or the number of insects. And there was also a really good study, probably the best evidence of say larger [inaudible] working with those little insects together came out of Montana and North Dakota where they found that animals, or leafy spurge that was grazed by insects, in this case, flea beetles, was effective. Leafy spurge grazed by sheep was effective, but when you graze them both together, it was even more effective, so there was a synergistic effect. So, we're kind of going a little bit into the haze here, but I'm not as afraid of including grazing with those bio control agents, because there could be some benefit. I just would say, yeah, proceed with caution, because we don't want to make a situation where those animals are really sort of attacking the insects.

>> Yeah, in the world of integrated pest control, which is more commonly referred to, I guess, in the world of cropping systems, you know, they say that the first step is to know your pests and to know, you know, it's biological cycles and how you can manipulate that. In chapter 15 of this "Targeted Grazing Manual", the authors write that grazing for weed control is a meticulously honed and finely skilled practice. Should we not try this at home? [Laughter].

>> Well, I think the reason that that was written was because we're trying to distinguish it between sort of just run of the mill everyday garden variety grazing; that there is something more to it and that target on the environment. So, it is kind of you're changing your scope and you can get; people can get really good at it. You know, people like Ray Holtz and Craig Matson are really good. They're skilled. They're skilled workmen at that and they're very good. The other thing is, it's not terribly dangerous, so I'd say try it. See what.

>> Right.

>> See what works. But make sure you monitor. Make sure you see if it's working. Put a cage out, get a fence line. Just see if what you're doing is really working and so, it's not, it's not like chemicals or fire that I think could get out of control. You really have the reins all the way through targeted grazing, and we're not going to learn more about it unless people just give it a try.

>> Right.

>> But I really think it's important to do the monitoring. You know, I can't emphasize that enough; everything we do to get these good ideas. Let's see if they're really working or not. We did some studies with sheep on nap weed, spotted nap weed in Eastern Idaho once; probably a long time ago, and we saw these beautiful fence line. Like we could, here was with the sheep were with no purple seed heads; it's all looking good. Here's where the sheep weren't, but we measured meticulously the density of nap weed plants.

>> Indigenous plants.

>> We never affected the nap weed plants in those studies. We didn't make it any worse. I mean, maybe the upside is that grazing; they were able to get nutrients out of it, which is more than just letting it go and they may have given the grass a little bit of an edge. We saw some increasing grasses in the grazed area, because the sheep were focusing on the spurge, but we never expected the spurge. So, you know, you got to pay attention. It's not that it was bad, nothing went bad there, but we didn't have the effect that we thought we did. So, having it monitored, doing a little monitoring, it doesn't have to be a scientific study. A page here and there, a fence line, a few before and after pictures and I think it helps a lot. So I'm all for citizen science of this one. We are just not going to learn the right methods.

>> And I still maintain that the real world is much more complicated than rocket science. You know, people observe that from year to year, things like nap weed and cheek grass and other, especially annual weeds, seem to vary tremendously in how much they're expressed in a given year in response to the fact that I'm not even sure we know what they are, but you know, some years people say, it was a good nap weed year, but what they mean, a lot of nap weed showed up, sometimes in places we didn't know we had nap weed [laughter], and then the next year it was gone. And there were no obvious influences, like grazing moving seed around or something that could account for that flush.

>> Yeah, just like on the native range, dynamics is the name of the game. And not only place to place or year to year, but place to place, we're finding more that the weed population that might be found in this county in Oregon might be different than the one that's found in Montana; just because of the way that those weeds came into the ecosystem. So, I gave the example of lacey spurge. It seems to work; sheep and goats do really well on it in Montana and North Dakota, not so much in Idaho and Oregon. So effective, but it's just a different plant, different setting, different critters.

>> So, if I was attempting to summarize, I would say with the target, with a target weed population, you want to match up palatability with susceptibility; palatability to the animal and then susceptibility of the plant to being killed or having the seed production reduced, match up palatability and susceptibility and then does it kill your cows.

>> Yeah.

>> Don't do it in a way that's bad for your animals.

>> Well, be careful. I mean, I think that animals are your tool in this case. They're not, these direction things are going, don't think of them as meat so much, so much as tools for vegetation. I would never, I mean, I've never been in an operation where I thought the animals were being mistreated in targeted grazing, so you've got to pay attention to that. But I would, I guess I would phrase it a little differently, that the game is not all about the weeds, so pay attention to the palatability and susceptibility of the weed, but also to what you want to succeed out there. So, in a perfect world, you would find a time when the weed was palatable and susceptible and at that same time, the native plants might not be. They might not be susceptible to grazing or they might be more palatable.

>> Like grazing cheek grass in the wintertime.

>> Yeah, or in the spring.

>> In the spring.

>> Right up to the time when those native plants bolt. We found think that with spotted nap weed there was really kind of nice sweet spot right after the grasses produce seed, when they became less susceptible to grazing and also less palatable, because they were more just standing cellulose. That was when the nap weed came into, it started to bloom. The animals could eat it. It was tall. It was delicious. So, there was just that one little window where we could be pretty darn effective with grazing. And so, it's just a timing thing. And it aint easy, because it's not usually just one weed and one plant that you want. There's this whole myriad of plants, so that's where the art. We, we talk, this is called the art of range time. This is the art. That's where the art comes in is it's this, it's all of these pieces on the chess table and trying to find the way that you can find that sweet spot. And again, I say don't pay attention to only the weeds, because, remember it's just about shifting that balance to the native plants. You just need to shift it a little. Let them do the rest of the job. If always you have your eye on the weed, you might find a time that you can graze the weed, but what time is that for your desirable plants. Yeah, so I don't, I don't, I do worry about animals, but I do think of them more as tools. You got to change your mind set when you're doing targeted grazing. You know, I hear stories about, you know, the have goat will travel kind of side of people that you know, they just think this is going to be easy or people that call and say, hey, I've got a lot of this oxide daisy and it's just driving me crazy. Do you know someone who can come over and graze it? I've got some free forage for them. Targeted grazing is not about free forage. It's just a whole lot more complex and that's why you need that honing and scaling. You need the right animal at the right time with the right goal, and it's just not about bringing any old animal in and any old business card will do and throw them in there. That just; that can do a little more harm than good.

>> We've talked about the "Targeted Grazing Handbook" and we'll link to that to the show notes. Where else could people find good information on grazing towards specific vegetation management goals?

>> That handbook is on the targeted grazing website, which is maintained by the Targeted Grazing Committee of the Society for Range Management.

>> And on that website, we have several videos; like we have a series of five videos that just kind of track some of the chapters in the handbook, but show you what do you need to know about the animal; what do you need to know about the plant. What do you need to know about monitoring? Just kind of track you through the pieces. So, if you're just starting out in targeted grazing and you need kind of the targeted grazing 101; listen to those videos. They're by folks like myself and Rachel Frost and John Walker and others, just kind of tracking you through. We also have some other webinars that on Livestock and Wildlife Interactions and some things that you have to pay attention to in the larger environment. Also again, I'm sorry, plug the website. The website also has the prescriptions; the document where we called people and said, hey, when does it seem to work for you?

>> Right.

>> I would like to see a time in the future where that site might open up sort of a wiki media site, where people could call in or write in and say when it did work for them, because I think we somehow need to all bring our ideas to the table and understanding. So right now, there's, that is, that is probably actually the best place to go. It's where I go and any other ideas, you can just go ahead and add a note in there, and hopefully, we'll respond to you and try to move in the right direction. I just want to say a couple more things that, don't always think about it as just killing weeds. On that, on the website, you'll see it's also about creating fire breaks. I think there's a lot we can do with targeted grazing in this fire world, and that's where cows and horses might really be coming; they might be handy, and then also, I'm seeing a lot of new stuff on restoration, using that hoof impact to plant seeds and kind of do that disturbance, which usually disturbance is a bad thing, but when you're trying to restore an area, it might be just what you need. So think broadly; it's not just one animal and one weed. It's that whole ecosystem. It's the right animals at the right time in the right place and really changing the way you think about it. So, I do hope that people will look at the targeted grazing website, which is by the Society for Range Management, Target Grazing Community.

[ Background Music ]

It's at That will get you there.

>> Okay, Karen, thank you for your time.

>> It's been a great pleasure and I do hope people will write in and send some comments back with their ideas on this and other topics.

>> Very good. Thank you for listening to The Art of Range podcast. You can subscribe to and review the show through iTunes or your favorite podcasting app so you never miss an episode. Just search for "Art of Range." If you have questions or comments for us to address in a future episode, send an email to For articles and links to resources mentioned in the podcast, please see the show notes at Listener feedback is important to the success of our mission empowering rangeland managers. Please take a moment to fill out a brief survey at This podcast is produced by CAHNRS Communications in the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences at Washington State University. The project is supported by the University of Arizona and funded by the Western Center for Risk Management Education through the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

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Mentioned Resources


University of Idaho targeted grazing research papers:

The same site has grazing prescriptions for many individual species: knapweed, leafy spurge, starthistle, canada thistle, etc.

Targeted Grazing Handbook. This landowner-oriented reference guide has individual chapters for various grazing goals, such as controlling brush, enhancing wildlife habitat, limiting wildfire, orchard understory management, and more.…rgeted-grazing/

Rangeland journal article from 2012: "Targeted Grazing: Applying the Research to the Land".…/19480/19120

BEHAVE project (Behavioral Education for Human, Animal, Vegetation, and Ecosystem Management)

Idaho Rangeland Resources Commission article, "Ray Holes--The Goat King".…mbat-noxious-weeds/

BEEF Magazine article, "Use target grazing to take aim at invasive weeds"…target-grazing

Leafy spurge control in Alberta, Jan 2019 article at The Western Producer:…uses-on-grazing/

Livestock for Landscapes Network.
This site lists, by state, livestock businesses who have their shingle out to conduct contract weed control work.

Businesses in the PNW:
Craig Madsen, Healing Hooves:
Ray Holes. Ray Holes,, 208-740-9264
Nicole Bellows & Larry Davis, NW Goat Grazers.

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