Sheep on the Wild Graze

SageHill

Herd Master
Joined
Aug 27, 2022
Messages
3,102
Reaction score
11,626
Points
473
Location
Southern CA
Tumble Weed, Russian Thistle, Salsola tragus
Surprisingly the sheep gobble up the tumble weed. It's nasty thorny stuff even in it's green state. I never would have guessed the sheep would like it.
A little bit of researching I found it's an invasive species from Russia, it came over in 1873 with Russian immigrants mixed in with the flax seed they were carrying. One plant can easily have 250,000 seeds dropping them as they tumble along. By the1890's it was out of control. Around here they can get bigger than cars and that's not uncommon. Why oh why is it romanticized in our folklore of the old west?
IMG_0983-2.jpg
IMG_0982-2.jpg
 
Last edited:

SageHill

Herd Master
Joined
Aug 27, 2022
Messages
3,102
Reaction score
11,626
Points
473
Location
Southern CA
Sugar bush - sugar sumac - Rhus ovata
An all time favorite of the sheep in any form - early spring and even crunchy dead.
A California native evergreen, not the same as sumac in other places (that I can tell especially since this thrives in hot and dry conditions). It's a big huge bush growing up to 30 ft high and at least 30 ft wide. It breaks fairly easily a good wind can take out a bush/bush almost tree-like.
IMG_0975.jpg

IMG_0980.jpg

IMG_0978.jpg
 
Last edited:

SageHill

Herd Master
Joined
Aug 27, 2022
Messages
3,102
Reaction score
11,626
Points
473
Location
Southern CA
Wild Radish - Raphanus sativus
According to Cal-IPC (California Invasive Plant Council) wild this is found all over Cal, it can also be found in wetland areas. It is invasive to the point of choking out natives and on rare occasions can be toxic to livestock.
I'm getting the feeling that just about anything can be toxic to livestock o_O .
We've got this stuff all over the ranch, the sheep may take a nibble here and there, but it's definitely not on the love to eat it list at any time in it's life cycle.
IMG_0985-2.jpg


IMG_0987-2.jpg
 
Last edited:

SageHill

Herd Master
Joined
Aug 27, 2022
Messages
3,102
Reaction score
11,626
Points
473
Location
Southern CA
I’ve observed my sheep eating plants I know to be toxic. Sometimes they want those plants, sometimes they don’t.
I've got lots more reading to do - have but haven't started the book Nourishment: What Animals Can Teach Us About Rediscovering Our Nutritional Wisdom --- thinking out loud, wonder if those plants help in things like parasite resistance and similar things. Need to get to that book next - currently reading The Art & Science of Shepherding.
 

SageHill

Herd Master
Joined
Aug 27, 2022
Messages
3,102
Reaction score
11,626
Points
473
Location
Southern CA
Stinkwort - Dittrichia graveolens

Sheep definitely do not like this. According to Cal-IPC it was first seen in Cal in 1984 and has rapidly spread throughout the state. It grows to about 3ft high.
With a name like stinkwort I had to check it out. First hand I can say it has hairy stems, is sticky and smells like Vicks VapoRub. It's no wonder the sheep don't like it. They'll eat all around it, but won't even take a nibble. According to Cal-IPC it is unpalatable to livestock, they are definitely correct.
IMG_1019.jpeg


The sheep will eat everything around it, but won't take even a nibble,
can't blame them. It seems like the stinkiest of weeds so far are ones
they leave alone. Makes perfect sense.

IMG_1021.jpeg
 
Last edited:

SageHill

Herd Master
Joined
Aug 27, 2022
Messages
3,102
Reaction score
11,626
Points
473
Location
Southern CA
Tanglehead - Heteropogon contortus
This morning the sheep wanted to have huge mouthfuls of this. Tanglehead is a type of bunch grass. According to the USDA it is good for cover and soil erosion among a long list of other things. It is palatable to most livestock during the growing season, especially early on, as it gets older it becomes coarser and less palatable.
I guess right now it's at the candy stage for the sheep.
IMG_1027.jpeg

IMG_1029.jpeg
 
Last edited:

SageHill

Herd Master
Joined
Aug 27, 2022
Messages
3,102
Reaction score
11,626
Points
473
Location
Southern CA
Jerusalem Oak Goosefoot - Dysphania botrys
The plant has a strong scent, reminiscent of stock cubes, and can be used as a flavoring in cooking. It is cultivated as an annual by gardeners.
Sheep decided this was tasty. With that description I'll have to grab some and give it a sniff. Haven't found anything that says it's good, bad or otherwise for the sheep.
IMG_1167.jpeg

IMG_1166.jpeg
 
Top