Browsing Journal of Range Management, Volume 46, Number 5 (September 1993) by Subjects
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Seasonal grazing of locoweeds by cattle in northeastern New MexicoLocoweed poisoning generally occurs in early spring. We evaluated cattle grazing of woolly locoweed (Astragalus mollissimus var. mollissimus Torr.) at Gladstone, N.M., and of white locoweed (Oxytropis sericea Nutt. ex T&G) at Capulin, N.M., through the spring and into early summer as the phenological development of warm-season grasses progressed from dormancy to rapid growth. Diets of 8 mature cows were quantified by bite count at each location. Cattle initially rejected woolly locoweed at Gladstone, even though it was the only green forage available in late March and early April. Gladstone cattle were then restricted to a small 7-ha pasture where high grazing pressure and limited feed forced them to graze woolly locoweed (41% of bites). When these cows returned to a larger pasture of unlimited forage availability, they continued eating woolly locoweed (23% of bites). At Capulin, cattle with a history of eating locoweed (loco-eaters) consumed more white locoweed (23% of bites) thin cattle without a history of eating locoweed (6% of bites) during the April grazing period. When warm-season grasses started rapid growth and locoweed matured in June, cattle ceased grazing both locoweed species.