Controlling Weeds in Idaho

A Forb is a herbaceous, flowering plant other than grass. Unwanted forbs are generally dubbed “weeds.” Herbicides used for “weed” control almost always harm habitat and wildlife. On Pitchstone Waters, we manage our weeds unconventionally—to the benefit of the range and the animals that call it home.



Goats Clearing Leafy Spurge from Meadows at Pitchstone Waters #5 from Christopher Gill on Vimeo.

Leafy spurge arrived in America from Europe and Asia at the beginning of the 19th century. Today it inhabits pastures, rangelands, grasslands, prairies and roadsides throughout the United States and Canada.

It reproduces quickly and thrives in drought because its root system spreads wide and deep, allowing it to reach scarce moisture. Efforts to eradicate it have failed. Commercial herbicides can’t stop it, and these poisons leave environmental damage in their wake.

In addition to being able to grow anywhere, leafy spurge is very nutritious. Its protein content is about 26 percent, a near equivalent of alfalfa.

Leafy spurge sap blisters the mouths of cattle and native wildlife don’t like it, but, goats thrive on it. When applied as part of a deliberate, rotational grazing system, goat mouths and hooves are the best and safest form of control. While leafy spurge can’t be eradicated, well-timed grazing pressure can help keep it in check and allow other plants to flourish.

NOTE: this post originally appeared on this site on June 8, 2020.

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