Co-grazing goats and cow-calf pairs on rangeland infested with sericea lespedeza increased grazing pressure on the weed without affecting performance of the beef animals or the amount of residual grass.
Kansas State University researchers were looking for a way to control the weed, which infests 600,000 acres of Kansas rangeland. Beef cattle avoid it, presumably because of its high tannin content, but goats readily consume it.
In the season-long study, five heavily infested pastures were grazed by cows and calves and four were stocked with cows, calves and Boer nannies. Daily weight gains of calves and cow pregnancy rates were identical between treatments.
At the end of the trial, 94.2% of individual sericea lespedeza plants had been grazed in the beef-cattle-plus-goats pastures compared with 77.5% for the other treatment. Sericea lespedeza biomass, identical between treatments at the start of the trial, was significantly lower in the co-grazed pastures at the end of the grazing season.