By Nadia Mori, PAg., Range Management Extension Specialist, Watrous
Producers face many challenges when controlling invasive weeds on pastures and rangelands, including vast, hard-to-reach areas that make chemical and mechanical control impractical. Targeted grazing using small ruminants like sheep and goats, can support the management of large scale noxious weed infestations. Targeted grazing is the intentional use of livestock to achieve vegetation management goals. Various studies and established programs show that grazing weeds at the right time, duration and intensity can effectively reduce their abundance. Saskatchewan producers now have access to cost-shared funding through the Farm Stewardship Program (FSP) for targeted grazing projects to control specific noxious weeds.
Successful targeted grazing requires in-depth knowledge of animal husbandry—which animal is best suited to the job; and plant ecology—when are plants susceptible and what health issues may they cause to different livestock. A targeted grazing prescription should:
- cause significant damage to the target plant;
- limit damage to the desirable surrounding vegetation;
- be consistent with livestock production goals; and
- be integrated with other control methods as part of an overall weed management strategy.
If you are looking for a small ruminant producer offering targeted grazing services, the following organizations, listed in alphabetical order, are a good place to start:
Canadian Meat Goat Association (CMGA); Stuart Chutter (President) 306-599-9152
Saskatchewan Goat Breeders Association (SGBA); Rob Schill (President) 306-331-7858
email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Sheep Development Board; Gord Schroeder (Executive Director) 306-933-5582
Western Canadian Goat and Grazing Association (WCGGA); Lee Sexton (President) 306-220-4584
email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Because targeted grazing requires intricate knowledge around vegetation and livestock management, the beneficial management practice (BMP) for invasive plant biocontrol and targeted grazing requires pre-approval. If you have an infestation of more than 5 hectares or 12.36 acres of leafy spurge, common burdock, Canada thistle, Russian knapweed, common tansy, and/or absinthe, you may qualify for funding of 50 per cent of eligible targeted grazing costs. Please inquire about the complete requirements involved with obtaining pre-approval for your project.
For more information on this BMP, or any other programs under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP), please visit www.saskatchewan.ca/CAP; or call the Agriculture Knowledge Centre at 1-866-457-2377.