• Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Horehound Abatement and Replacement?

 
Kuan Yin
Posts: 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hello all,

I live in Northern California, and we have horehound in the pastures here whose flowers stick in the horses manes and tails something fierce. I walked around their pasture the other day to see how much there actually was, and it is spread throughout the pasture. From what I've read, now (winter) is a good time to get rid of the plants, however I observed that the horehound seems to be holding the soil together in the field and allowing grass to grow. This explains why they get so many of the burrs in their forelocks - they are grazing around the horehound for the grass that grows nearby. I would like to eradicate the horehound, but it seems to be serving a purpose. My question is, is there a plant that is safe to have in a horse pasture that I could use to replace the horehound? What plants compete with them? Do they have any effective natural predators? (Our pastures are fenced with t-posts and wire so goats and sheep are not an option at this point.) Horehound grows in poor quality soil and it seems to also like to grow next to other bushy plants and thistles. The burrs are annoying to pick out, but they do seem to help grass re-establish in the field, so I'm looking for a plant that could serve the same role.
 
Kelly Smith
Posts: 699
Location: In a rain shadow - Fremont County, Southern CO
18
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
i would like to know as well.
we have horehound coming up in our pastures too. FWIW - our cows/sheep/llama do not eat it. - -i was thinking about getting a goat - but i have a few fencing issues to fix before i can do that.

i agree the seeds are annoying. they get caught in the llama hair - and i think she is helping to spread it!

edit:
we do daily animal paddock moves from ~ mar - nov. we graze sheep, cows and a llama.
animals are removed from the pasture nov-mar.
the only plants left in the pasture when i move the animals is the horehound.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 8975
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
132
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
In my opinion horehound is an indicator of poor grazing management, typically in horse pastures. Here I only see it in areas which have been mismanaged. I never see it in healthy pastures I know that doesn't solve the problem, but might help indicate how it arose. If possible I would try removing the horses from the pasture periodically so that the grass can have a better chance of competing with the horehound. You might try intensive grazing of multiple paddocks.

http://naparcd.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/NRCS_HorseManagement-basiclandstewardship.pdf
 
Tracy Kuykendall
Posts: 165
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Goats-sheep-horses-cows will all eat horehound in that order, but only after most every other green living thing has been eaten, then there'll be another pioneer plant to replace the horehound. As said above better pasture management after you've removed the horehound is in order, I've always used a good grubbing hoe from now until it goes to seed to get it out. Removing the older, coarser plants will encourage the animals you have now to eat the new tender growth.
 
Kuan Yin
Posts: 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I am boarding in this pasture so removal of the horses is not a possibility. It is not my property, so I have to work within the parameters of the owner. As I mentioned, the fences are not currently set up to allow goats or sheeps in to graze. I'm not afraid of grabbing a hoe and getting dirty, I just wanted to see if any of the erudite permaculturalists on the site could recommend a plant that could replace the function that the hoarhound seems to serve.
 
Kelly Smith
Posts: 699
Location: In a rain shadow - Fremont County, Southern CO
18
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Tracy Kuykendall wrote:Goats-sheep-horses-cows will all eat horehound in that order, but only after most every other green living thing has been eaten, then there'll be another pioneer plant to replace the horehound. As said above better pasture management after you've removed the horehound is in order, I've always used a good grubbing hoe from now until it goes to seed to get it out. Removing the older, coarser plants will encourage the animals you have now to eat the new tender growth.


the 2nd part of the bolded part doesnt seem to jive with "better pasture management"
i rotate cows/sheep/llama through my pastures - moving the animals daily. even with all of the competition, the horehound remains in the field. sure i could leave the animals in the paddock and FORCE them to eat the horehound, but that bring up other grazing management and animal performance issues.

in our animal laneway we have noticed the sheep will eat some parts of the horehound - but there is literally nothing else to eat in the laneway.


can someone explain how grazing management can get animals to eat plants they dont want to eat, while keeping animal performance up?
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 8975
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
132
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I don't think grazing management can get animals to eat plants they don't want to eat, and we don't want them to eat plants which are bad for them. I think the horehound may have to be removed by humans. Grazing management will help grasses compete better with the horehound so that it doesn't come back after removal.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 8975
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
132
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Kuan Yin wrote:I am boarding in this pasture so removal of the horses is not a possibility. It is not my property, so I have to work within the parameters of the owner. As I mentioned, the fences are not currently set up to allow goats or sheeps in to graze. I'm not afraid of grabbing a hoe and getting dirty, I just wanted to see if any of the erudite permaculturalists on the site could recommend a plant that could replace the function that the hoarhound seems to serve.


Can you put up fencing inside the existing paddock, to move the horses from one area to another? Personally I think the horehound could be replaced by thicker grasses, if the pasture were managed better. To replace the horehound with another broad-leaved plant, you would have to remove it. If you're going to remove it, you might as well allow the grasses to regenerate to cover bare ground. Possibly you might want to plant some native grass seed or native forb seed after removing the horehound, to avoid exposed bare ground.

 
Tracy Kuykendall
Posts: 165
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
That's just nice way of saying horehound is basically a starvation plant. Once the mature coarse plants are removed, animals will eat the new tender plants somewhat better.
 
Kuan Yin
Posts: 5
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Good advice, Tyler! I think I will try to use the natural features of their pasture to achieve my goals, instead of investing in expensive and time-consuming fencing - especially since it's not my property. The pasture is in a pretty wild state with bushes and trees throughout the pasture. The terrain is varied with areas of poor, rocky soil, shady trees, sparse grass, pines and bushes, so not the typical pasture that most of us picture as an ideal home for our horses. However, this rugged set-up is actually a more natural environment for horses, versus a "well managed" field of lush green grass, and I want to keep these wonderful natural elements in their pasture. I spent all day yesterday cutting away low hanging branches and the horses now have a clear walkway around the perimeter of their pasture, along with other trails that connect to various clearings or shady spots in the pasture. I am going to set up a sort of "Paddock Paradise" system in the pasture. This system was created by Jaime Jackson, a barefoot trimmer in Southern California who spent time observing the behaviors of wild horses on BLM land. Hay is spread along "tracks" throughout the pasture, which encourages the horses to walk around and "forage" for food. This simulates their natural foraging behavior and is a much healthier way to feed horses, as their stomachs are designed to accommodate small and frequent meals, versus a couple scheduled meal times a day. It also encourages the horse to move, which keeps the horse conditioned, builds better hooves and provides mental stimulation for the other 20 hours of the day, when I'm not there to feed or work the horses.

I am considering hanging a hay bag right in the middle of a big patch of the horehound to see what happens. The plants haven't flowered yet, so they don't have a bunch of stickers at this point, and I'm wondering if I could employ my horses to trample the horehound as they eat! However, I'm not totally dead set on eradicating the horehound just yet. I moved into this pasture just a week ago, and I want to see what kind of role the horehound plays before I come in, brim full of hubris, trying to change everything around. The horehound is only a nuisance for me, the human, who has to pick burrs out of the horses' manes and tails. The horses don't seem to mind it and some of the other plants seem to like to grow near it because they stabilize the soil with their roots. The big patch of horehound in their pasture grows under the cover of a giant oak tree on the downward side of a gentle slope. Beyond the cover of the oak, there are other plants that prefer more sun that bees also happen to love - maybe if I could transplant these around the perimeter of the horehound patch, or otherwise encourage them to grow there, they will provide a type of barrier that prevents the horses from getting into the horehound.

Since I've only been there a week, I've yet to see how the weather and seasons change the pasture, but I think it will take some observation and reflection to develop a good pasture management plan. It's a fun and interesting experiment, and I'm excited to see what happens!
 
Tracy Kuykendall
Posts: 165
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The bees will absolutely love the horehound patch when it blooms this summer.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/cards
  • Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic