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4 months ago

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I'm sure this has been discussed before, but after reading a response on the sugar in hay post and weeds in pasture, I thought I'd bring it up. My mules have a habit of eating the blooms out of poison hemlock growing in the pasture. My first thought is, it's poison. Why do they do that? Nothing else on the place will eat the stuff. They've done this every spring for years with no ill effects. So, I wonder what they get from it? A natural dewormer? Some missing nutrient or mineral? or are they just being a mule?

BrianL says 2017-06-15 07:34:16 (CST)



I'm fanatic about removing any poison hemlock I see. But I always thought animals avoided it because it tastes horrible. I guess your "medicinal purposes" theory makes sense.


4 months ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Klaus Karbaumer says 2017-06-15 14:24:14 (CST)



Flowers of many plants ( not all) usually have a higher energy content
than other parts since they develop into seeds. I have observed that some of my horses over the years developed a taste for thistle heads, blooming pig weed and others, dock for example. Same with our goats. I have no idea if it was the taste or other factors that made them do that.
I think that generally animals have an instinctive knowledge, acquired during the eons of their evolution which plants to eat, which not and that actually makes them quite smart. I think it is highly possible that animals "know" the medicinal effect.
But hay changes the the situation, because that is not in their evolutionary history, and it probably is harder for animals to detect poisonous plants embedded in hay.


4 months ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Ralph in N.E.Oh says 2017-06-17 06:25:46 (CST)



Great replies guys. I agree. Common ragweed a real pain in the butt for us has a seed head that tests from 19 to 21% protein. My animals eat the seed heads first. The plants usually get set back quite a bit when that happens. Wild geese will strip the seed heads like a string of pearls... Nature is an awesome thing!


4 months ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

JerryHicks says 2017-06-19 05:17:24 (CST)



I attended a conference a few years ago in which Jerry Brunetti was speaking. The topic was Health From The Hedge Row.i believe this presentation is available to watch on youtube. He touched on many aspects of things that animals eat that are a regular item in their diets. One thing I recall was animals browsing rather than grazing, eating more leaves and brush was seen as a sign that the animal was likely going for copper. If I'm remembering right, in drought years and other times of high stress on pastures, pasture grasses are low in copper and deeper rooted plants are higher in it. The other aspect is as Ralph pointed out, certain wild plants and plants that we normally consider weeds are actually higher in nutritive value than many of our domestic plants, or at least they are if harvested at the proper point in their growth cycle. I blame it on their donkey ancestry but my mules do quite a bit of browsing. I see them eating a lot of leaves off the honey locusts I am now trying to get rid of.


3 months ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum


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