Submitted to: Farm and Ranch Guide
Publication Type: Popular publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/2/1998
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Leafy spurge infested pasture and rangeland within the Heart River Drainage of North Dakota costs a total of $3.9 million, annually, in direct and secondary costs. Sheep have been used for many years to control leafy spurge, with varying degrees of success. This popular article tells of the experiences of four farm/ranch operators along the Heart River as they use sheep to effectively control leafy spurge on their land. This eliminates or reduces the cost of herbicide for spurge control. The sheep bands also provide a cash crop from the pasture and rangeland that produces very limited forage for cattle. All operators hope to reduce their sheep numbers as leafy spurge is controlled and increase their cattle numbers. Sheep control but do not eradicate leafy spurge from the land and it will return in as little as 5 years without sheep grazing. All operators must be concerned with ewe and lamb losses from coyotes even though they use Pyrenees guard dogs to help protect their sheep. These dogs are effective, but their success in protecting the sheep depends on land topography and the size of the pastures and flocks. All operators have found sheep develop a preference for grazing leafy spurge and ewes and lambs readily grazing young leafy spurge plants early in the spring. The experience of these operators is helpful as the use of sheep to control leafy spurge appears to be a continuing and necessary component of overall leafy spurge management on rangelands of the Northern Great Plains.