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introducing new seed to your pasture - via cow

 
paul wheaton
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From mother earth news:

"Here's an ingenious - and effortless - way to improve your pastures:  simply mix one tablespoon of untreated, unhulled grass seed into each cow's daily rations during the spring and summer months.  Most of the seed will pass through the cow and be planted at random in the animal's droppings, complete with 'natural fertilizer' to start it off right."

Of course, I think the real key here is that:  won't a cow on pasture pretty much do this anyway?

I suppose the key here is that you can introduce new stuff to your pastures this way, but you would have to make sure that what you get is "unhulled".

 
Leah Sattler
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this is a great idea in some situations but I must protest that most of the grass seed will pass through. ruminants have particularly efficient digestive tracts. I wonder if monogastric animals such as horses might be a better bet for this sort of thing. seeds, oats and even cracked corn are often visible in the feces of horses fed large amounts of grain. no one would give me notice when I pointed out that they were throwing money onto the ground and at the vet by feeding so much grain. 

this is a nice little blurb on the amount of undigested seed (varying kinds) that gets passed through in an experiment using holstein cattle. gives some great info that might produce some excellent strategies. I have heard of feeding protected seed to cattle....some kind of coating that resists digestion. I wonder if that is getting confused with plain ol raw seed.

http://www.scipub.org/fulltext/ojbs/ojbs6123-27.pdf
 
Emil Spoerri
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Leah Sattler wrote:
this is a great idea in some situations but I must protest that most of the grass seed will pass through. ruminants have particularly efficient digestive tracts. I wonder if monogastric animals such as horses might be a better bet for this sort of thing. seeds, oats and even cracked corn are often visible in the feces of horses fed large amounts of grain. no one would give me notice when I pointed out that they were throwing money onto the ground and at the vet by feeding so much grain. 

this is a nice little blurb on the amount of undigested seed (varying kinds) that gets passed through in an experiment using holstein cattle. gives some great info that might produce some excellent strategies. I have heard of feeding protected seed to cattle....some kind of coating that resists digestion. I wonder if that is getting confused with plain ol raw seed.

http://www.scipub.org/fulltext/ojbs/ojbs6123-27.pdf


actually, while they are more efficient they are more efficient at eating things that are rediculously hard to digest, plus grains require stronger acid to break down than grass, that is why grain fed animals experience acidosis.
Goats break down seeds, but cows pass easily over 50% of their diet undigested.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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I'm surprised that sprouting isn't a bigger part of feedlot operations.

It seems like it would be worth the loss of food calories, if it meant more efficient digestion and healthier animals.

But I'm naive about these things.
 
Emil Spoerri
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Joel Hollingsworth wrote:
I'm surprised that sprouting isn't a bigger part of feedlot operations.

It seems like it would be worth the loss of food calories, if it meant more efficient digestion and healthier animals.

But I'm naive about these things.


sprouting promotes the growth of bacteria and pathogens!
I am not sure but sprouting might decrease weight gains too?
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Yeah, that makes sense.
 
Leah Sattler
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referring to blue bunch wheat grass seeds.....

"14-44 germinable seeds might  be deposited in a dungpat one day after a cow has ingested 60,000 seeds while consuming a fairly high quality grass hay diet"

its states that recovery is highest at 1 day and there are different numbers for different species of grass and this is only one study. but it sure doesnt' seem like an efficient method looking at that.

acidoses is caused when highly/quickly digestable grain begins to ferment in the gut and the proliferation of microbes that do this fermentation create an acidic enviroment. toomany grain eating microbes. mild acidoses can result in mild diahrea and voiding undigested grain at a higher rate as the animals body tries to expel the offending feed stuffs. I am not sure I would want to create a state of ill health in my charges just to spread some seed around.

its not that the acid is produced to break down the grain, the acid is a byproduct of the microbes eating the sugars in the grain. so grain in the dung means the digestive tract was unable to break down the grain or the threshold for tolerance of acid was reached and it was hurried through the system as a protective measure. This may be more common in cows  I am more of a goat person 

upon examination of my goats poo it is very fibrous just like a cows, only pelleted. and I know they are supposed to be super efficient at breaking down things that are not easily digestable by other species. the only time I have seen grain in one of my goats poo was when I was trying to increase milk production by feeding grain and predictably she got soft poo with bits of grain in it from the unhealthy diet, presumabley because her body was trying hard to eliminate the extra grain due to mild acidoses.

I am rather biased against grains being a large part of the diet of any forage based animal though 

I wonder if the grain people see in cows poop is just considered acceptable because it is so common to see it due to common managment practices, not because it is normal. but that is just me and my wacky ideas.



 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Leah Sattler wrote:"14-44 germinable seeds might  be deposited in a dungpat one day after a cow has ingested 60,000 seeds while consuming a fairly high quality grass hay diet"

...

I am rather biased against grains being a large part of the diet of any forage based animal though 


So I guess it makes sense if:

1. the seeds are free, or at least cheap relative to labor costs, or

1a. the seeds are adapted to pass through a ruminant undigested

2. the animal is being fed hay and pastured at the same time

3. the seed type and quantity do not cause digestive problems

This sounds like it might be a respectably large minority of the time.
 
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