It is sometimes difficult to detect toxic weeds in a pasture because the alpacas are eating them down as quickly as they are growing. This is an excellent reason to rotate pasture space. Being able to clearly see a few inches of what is growing in your pastures can be enlightening. Once you can isolate what is a weed, you can identify it or have it identified by an expert. We are usually aware of toxic weeds that are native to our region; however, when east side hay crosses the pass, east side weeds can quickly become a part of our pasture, and vice versa. This makes it important to take a look at toxic weeds from the region in which your hay is grown. Toxic weeds can spread quickly in two ways – seeds can germinate in and around the paddocks from fallen hay or the animals ingest the seeds in the hay and spread them throughout the pastures through dung and dung piles. This is another important reason to pick up dung piles as often as possible. We recommend cleaning pastures at minimum every 48 hours. Once you know what types of weeds you have in your pastures, a plan can be developed for eliminating them – whether through competition, changes in soil characteristics, or herbicides.
The following site is an excellent resource for identifying toxic plants and weeds. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the office.