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  1. #1
    Platinum Member Spiveyman's Avatar
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    Default Can you feed lawn clippings to cattle?

    Here's the deal: In central KY we're having the worst drought in decades. Many cattlemen have been feeding hay since late July in some cases. Who knows what they will do come winter as hay is not only expensive, but so scarce so there may not be any to buy.

    I was mowing my lawn tonight, and as I was empying the canister (I collect the clippings rather than let them smother out what grass is left) I couldn't help but think, "what a waste of good grass."

    So, can you feed regular lawn clippings to cattle right after you mow? What about 2, 3, 4, days later? People here use those paper lawn bags and put them by the curb on trash day. I've often been tempted to fill up the back of my pick-up on the way to work with "city grass" and see if my cattle have a stomach for it. Is there any danger in that? They are about the size of square bales and free! Seems almost too good to be viable.
    "Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance."

    "No one but cattle know why they stampede... and they ain't talkin'."

    "It doesn't matter how big a ranch ya' own, or how many cows ya' brand, the size of your funeral is still gonna to depend on the weather."

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Can you feed lawn clippings to cattle?

    Hey All,

    Spivey I know of no danger associated with feeding fresh lawn clippings (grass) to cattle - unless you been spraying or something. If there are weeds with it like larkspur or something all bets are off! What is silage it's grass with varying degres of fermentation. However if it's moldy I would not feed it. Picking up other peoples bags well I probably wouldn't just to be safe. Drought management is a great topic for discussion. Too few farmers prepare for it yet there are so many things you can do - ahead of time of course.

    -Ed-

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Can you feed lawn clippings to cattle?

    Hey All,

    OK Spivey I have to ask as I've been through the worst drought in recorded history in Alberta (2002) - I'm in BC now. How is it that you have so much green grass if your in a severe drought? Irrigation of some kind? I do know your in a drought because I look at the US national drought monitor website at least once a week. Here is the website:

    US Drought Monitor

    Yet your pictures show green grass. To my way of thinking why not brown?

    -Ed-

  4. #4
    Platinum Member Spiveyman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can you feed lawn clippings to cattle?

    Quote Originally Posted by EasyEd
    OK Spivey I have to ask as I've been through the worst drought in recorded history in Alberta (2002) - I'm in BC now. How is it that you have so much green grass if your in a severe drought? Irrigation of some kind? I do know your in a drought because I look at the US national drought monitor website at least once a week. Here is the website...

    Yet your pictures show green grass. To my way of thinking why not brown?

    Very simple answer. We're in Kentucky, the Bluegrass state. When we're in a drought the grass turns green instead of blue! HA!

    No seriously, I think the difference is the yield on the fields. The grass is not as thick, not as long, and the clover tends to get burned up pretty fast. And yet, I agree, my fields look pretty good considering. For my neck of the woods the soil holds water pretty well. Lots of clay and very shallow water table. I did soil samples the other day for the county extension agent to test for what fertilizer I needed. The top of the ground seemed dry as can be, but half a shovel's depth into the soil, even on the top of the hill and it was dark brown. I put the soil in a bad and it started sweating on the inside of the bag right away. Here are some pictures comparing last year (record rain fall) to this year (drought).

    The front fields look similar where we graze:
    Last year 08/01/06
    08-01-06 front field.jpg
    This year 08/08/07
    08-08-07 front field.jpg
    This year alomst looks better, but we got two cuttings last year, and will only get one this year.

    You can tell a bigger difference for some reason in the back:
    Last year 08/01/06, thicker, greener, pond full
    08-01-06 back pond.jpg
    This year 09/04/07 - granted it's a month later, but the grass is thin you can see more bank on the pond (you'll have to ignore the tractor, the picture was more for the new FEL than the grass! )
    09-04-07 back pond.jpg

    Maybe that's why we claim it as God's country - the grass stays green, even in a drought!
    KY Drought.jpg
    "Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance."

    "No one but cattle know why they stampede... and they ain't talkin'."

    "It doesn't matter how big a ranch ya' own, or how many cows ya' brand, the size of your funeral is still gonna to depend on the weather."

  5. #5
    Epic Contributor Soundguy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can you feed lawn clippings to cattle?

    Spivey... when i knock down the black tops off bahia in my pasture.. my cows will eat the windrows the tractor makes right after i pass... no dead cows yet..

    soundguy

  6. #6
    Platinum Member Spiveyman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can you feed lawn clippings to cattle?

    Quote Originally Posted by Soundguy
    Spivey... when i knock down the black tops off bahia in my pasture.. my cows will eat the windrows the tractor makes right after i pass... no dead cows yet..

    soundguy

    We've got lots of dead cattle, but they've all been planned.

    I figure anything already growing in a pasture is fair game, but grass used on lawns is not always the same as used in pastures. Different grasses have pro's and con's. People use fertilizers like Scott's and sometimes weed killers. Then there's the issue of the grass hanging out in a brown paper bag for a few days possibly. Cattle seem to have pretty tolerable stomaches, compared to horses and such, but didn't know if law grass was a "no no" or something. There are plenty of swanky neighborhoods with in ground sprinklers that have to mow twice a week. That's a lot of grass for free if it's good for the cattle. Also, are the mineral deficiencies in lawn grass that are different than pastures? We use the Cargill minerals, so hopefully that won't be a problem.

    Mostly I'm just trying to be resourceful in case it gets really bad and our grass actually turns brown. Incidentally, that picture for my avatar has pretty brown grass. That was March this year - nice wet fall & winter.
    "Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance."

    "No one but cattle know why they stampede... and they ain't talkin'."

    "It doesn't matter how big a ranch ya' own, or how many cows ya' brand, the size of your funeral is still gonna to depend on the weather."

  7. #7
    Super Member N80's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can you feed lawn clippings to cattle?

    The grass here in SC will 'green up' within a few days of rain. Three weeks ago most of my farmer friends had brown fields. Then we get a little rain and the grass greens up. Looks real pretty but as mentioned, the total hay yield still suffers and the grass browns up again real fast. We are listed in the extreme to severe drought where I am in SC.
    George
    South Carolina

    The size of government is inversely proprotional to the degree of freedom it affords.

    "What is truth?" Pontius Pilate

  8. #8
    Super Member scott_vt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can you feed lawn clippings to cattle?

    Mornin Spivey,
    My neighbor has fed his beefers lawn clippings many times with no ill effects, as another poster mentioned, no sprays or insecticides. They love the stuff and are usually pretty lethargic after eating copious quanities of that stuff !
    scotty

    ,,,course,,it is gas,and gas is,,well,gas,,so,,but it kills the @#$$ oughta them yellow jackets,,,thingy

    http://www.tractorbynet.com/content/...onth-scott_vt/

  9. #9
    Epic Contributor Soundguy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can you feed lawn clippings to cattle?

    On many occasions i let my horses into my 'front yard' and let them mow and edge for me. However my front yard is pretty much argentine bahia with a little pensacola bahia mixed in. My pasture is arg/pen bahia and some clovers, fescue and a decent amount of coastal bermuda.

    I'm guessing yuor 'lush' hi $$ lawns may be st augustine or other... so I've got no exp there.

    As for fertalizer and pesticides.. I try to plan for a rain before I fertalize, and don't let my animals on a pasture that has been fert'ed untill after that rain... and pesticide is pretty much only on fence lines.. etc.

    not much help.. but good luck... I'd be a whole lot more tempted to try expirementing with feedstuff for a cow, vs a horse... equines are so iffy when it comes to their stomach..


    Soundguy

    Quote Originally Posted by Spiveyman
    We've got lots of dead cattle, but they've all been planned.

    I figure anything already growing in a pasture is fair game, but grass used on lawns is not always the same as used in pastures. Different grasses have pro's and con's. People use fertilizers like Scott's and sometimes weed killers. Then there's the issue of the grass hanging out in a brown paper bag for a few days possibly. Cattle seem to have pretty tolerable stomaches, compared to horses and such, but didn't know if law grass was a "no no" or something. There are plenty of swanky neighborhoods with in ground sprinklers that have to mow twice a week. That's a lot of grass for free if it's good for the cattle. Also, are the mineral deficiencies in lawn grass that are different than pastures? We use the Cargill minerals, so hopefully that won't be a problem.

    Mostly I'm just trying to be resourceful in case it gets really bad and our grass actually turns brown. Incidentally, that picture for my avatar has pretty brown grass. That was March this year - nice wet fall & winter.

  10. #10
    Platinum Member Spiveyman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can you feed lawn clippings to cattle?

    Quote Originally Posted by scott_vt
    My neighbor has fed his beefers lawn clippings many times with no ill effects, as another poster mentioned, no sprays or insecticides. They love the stuff and are usually pretty lethargic after eating copious quanities of that stuff !
    With my "drive around on trash day and collect the free grass" idea, it would actually be pretty easy to tell the lawns that treat. If it looks too good, it's been sprayed, but there are plenty of folks with "normal" lawns. I realize this would never be a main stay in my beef production, I was mostly just kind of wondering. Rather than have my lawn waste go to the landfill, I could put it to good use.

    Quote Originally Posted by Soundguy
    On many occasions i let my horses into my 'front yard' and let them mow and edge for me. However my front yard is pretty much argentine bahia with a little pensacola bahia mixed in. My pasture is arg/pen bahia and some clovers, fescue and a decent amount of coastal bermuda.

    I'm guessing yuor 'lush' hi $$ lawns may be st augustine or other... so I've got no exp there.

    As for fertalizer and pesticides.. I try to plan for a rain before I fertalize, and don't let my animals on a pasture that has been fert'ed untill after that rain... and pesticide is pretty much only on fence lines.. etc.

    not much help.. but good luck... I'd be a whole lot more tempted to try expirementing with feedstuff for a cow, vs a horse... equines are so iffy when it comes to their stomach..
    I actually have no idea what my lawn has in it and would LOVE to know. I had the perfect stand of grass in my lawn when I moved into this house. It stayed green longer, grows very slowly, so you don't have to mow as much, and even though grass is a huge allergy for me, I can mow this stuff and never sneeze. It is a brighter green, not like nut grass, but not the real dark color either. It goes to seed very short, so I usually let it do so in the spring to put that seed back on the lawn. For a lawn it is perfect, then the neighbor kids decided to vandilize with Round-up and I have huge spots that I've had to re-seed. The new grass doesn't match the old, and is horrible. It either grows twice as fast as the old or doesn't grow at all. Not hearty with respect to dry weather. I've tried several different kinds, but I don't like any of it. Now my lawn looks kind of like a "painted" lawn with patches of different types of grass. Horrible. Any grass experts out there that could help ID?

    I do agree though about only trying this with cattle. Wouldn't want to take the chance with a horse.
    "Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance."

    "No one but cattle know why they stampede... and they ain't talkin'."

    "It doesn't matter how big a ranch ya' own, or how many cows ya' brand, the size of your funeral is still gonna to depend on the weather."

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