Is your property covered with quackgrass? Has mowing lost its luster? Have you ever wondered if quackgrass has any nutritional value? In this article I compare some of the common feedstuffs in use for ruminants and other grazing livestock.

Bonus, download the free stock grazing calculator I developed that allows you to determin how much grazing your pasture can take based on your paddock size and livestock weight.

Is there actually any value in the cool-season perennial otherwise known as quackgrass?

I’ve been doing some research on the feed requirements of sheep in hopes of getting a handle on the over abundance of quackgrass on my property (see trouble with quackgrass here). In so doing, I’ve put together a spreadsheet that aids in the calculation of pasture size and rotation planning for extensive (low input, no-till, no farm, low effort, etc.) farming. I’ve also put together some of the nutrient contents of the plants that grow well and or natively on San Juan Island.

To my surprise, the ever-invasive and prevalent Quackgrass can serve as a very strong and nutrient packed pasture. It appears that quackgrass has a similar percent dry matter and as high, if not higher, percent of crude protein when compared to timothy and alfalfa (see comparison table below). This is very exciting since sheep are amongst the most efficient at converting this readily available “weed” into wool and food.

A lot of this theory is based on the detailed study about mob grazing by Allen Savory.

  • Quackgrass 28% 28%
  • Alfalfa Fresh – vegetative state 21% 21%
  • Fescue – Fresh, vegetative 28% 28%
  • Timothy – Fresh, vegetative 26% 26%
  • Ryegrass, perennial – Fresh, vegetative 27% 27%
  • Clover red – Fresh, vegetative 20% 20%

Typical Percent of Dry Matter In Common Feedstuffs

Pasture or high-quality hay can and should be the primary feed for sheep and other ruminants. To the left are the typical percentages of Dry Matter in several common feedstuffs. As you can see, the prevalent quackgrass has some huge benefits when it comes to grazing. With a proper paddock rotation strategy, you can use quackgrass to your advantage.

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