Needle grass

Asked June 28, 2016, 3:10 PM EDT

We have a pasture with a lot of needle grass in it. Our cows get abscess's in their jaws from the seeds. If we would graze it heavy in the spring would the cattle eat it and keep the seed from forming? Any other suggestions would be helpful.

Holt County Nebraska

1 Response

The needle grass (or needle-and-thread or porcupine grass) is a cool-season perennial. Typically, needle grasses increase in mixed native pastures that are only summer grazed (June to early August) or hayed in mid-summer. Cattle will graze it very well in the spring before seedheads form. So, basically the grazing value goes down about the 3rd or 4th week of May when those seedheads are formed. Grazing it very hard in the spring will, over time, reduce the amount of the needlegrass. It could take a few years but this does work. To complete the plan, and after the heavy spring grazing, resting the pasture in June and July will allow desirable warm-season grasses to build vigor and increase. In addition, if there is good late summer/early fall rain, needle grasses will green up in September/October and cattle will readily graze at this time as well. All the needles are dropped and cattle are going after the green. This will further reduce the vigor of the needle grass for the following year.