• Does ruminal retention time affect leafy spurge seed of varying maturity?

      Olson, B. E.; Wallander, R. T. (Society for Range Management, 2002-01-01)
      Grazers ingest seeds of invasive forbs and may contribute to their spread by depositing viable seeds in uninfested areas. Some mature seed pass through the gastrointestinal (GI) tract of ruminants, but grazers consume flowerheads of invasive species from anthesis to dehiscence. We collected seed from the Eurasian leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula L.) at 3 stages of maturity (soft dough, hard dough, mature). With seed collected from these different stages, our objectives were to determine effects of 1) rate of passage through the GI tract of sheep on leafy spurge seed recovery, germinability and viability, 2) residence time in sheep rumen on seed germinability and viability, and 3) acid pepsin digestion, simulating the lower GI tract, on seed germinability and viability after different residence times in the rumen. More seed from the later stages of maturity were recovered in the manure. The greatest number of seed recovered only represented 3.9% of the number of ingested seed. Few seeds were recovered after day 4. Soft dough seed in manure would not germinate and was not viable, whereas hard dough and mature seed collected from manure during the first 4 day were viable. Pepsin had a slight effect on the number of mature seed recovered, but eliminated viability of recovered seed. Viability of non-pepsin treated seed from the hard dough and mature stages declined with greater residence time in the rumen. Thus, managers should be aware that livestock ingesting hard dough as well as mature seed may be dispersing viable weed seed.