En Espa—ol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - September 03, 2012

From: Dale, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Yard grass that cows like to eat in Dale, TX
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I need to know of a good grass seed to plant in the yard that will also be eaten by our cows. Prefer one that doesn't have any type of stickers/cocker burrs.


The very best grass I can recommend that will serve as a turf grass and feed for cattle is Bouteloua dactyloides (Buffalograss) [synonym=Buchloe dactyloides].  It grows to a maximum of 12 inches if it isn't mowed and, as a turf grass, requires mowing only a couple of times a year.  If your cows are going to be eating it, it won't ever require mowing.  Additionally, it is very drought tolerant.  We have a How-to Article, Native Lawns:  Buffalograss, that gives you information on how to establish buffalograss as a lawn.  Native American Seeds in Junction (one of our Associates) has a seed mix, Native Sun Turfgrass, that includes 80% buffalograss and 20% Bouteloua gracilis (Blue grama), another short grass (3 to 6 inches) or you can buy buffalograss alone.  Both buffalograss and blue grama are highly nutritious and recommended for cattle feed.  Here is more information about buffalograss and blue grama from the USDA.

There are several taller native grasses that are also recommended for cattle.  Here is an article from the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Missouri Department of Agriculture, Native Plants for Your Farm, that lists several species that are recommended for pastures.  These all are found in or adjacent to Caldwell County and none of them have stickers or burrs.

 Andropogon gerardii (Big bluestem) grows 4 to 8 feet.

Elymus canadensis (Canada wild rye) reaches 2 to 4 feet.

Elymus virginicus (Virginia wildrye) reaches 2 to 4 feet.

Tripsacum dactyloides (Eastern gamagrass) grows 2 to 10 feet.

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass) grows 3 to 8 feet.

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem) reaches 3 feet.

Bouteloua curtipendula (Sideoats grama) grows 2 to 3 feet.

You might consider using a combination of some or all of these grasses for your pasture/yard.


From the Image Gallery

Bouteloua dactyloides

Big bluestem
Andropogon gerardii

Canada wild rye
Elymus canadensis

Virginia wildrye
Elymus virginicus

Eastern gamagrass
Tripsacum dactyloides

Sorghastrum nutans

Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

Sideoats grama
Bouteloua curtipendula

Blue grama
Bouteloua gracilis

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Alkalinity-tolerant grasses
July 24, 2005 - Dear Sirs - Are you aware of any grass species that could survive in strongly alkaline soils (ph from 10 up to 12) Thanks a lot.
view the full question and answer

Restoring the woods in Central Austin.
May 08, 2012 - I live in Austin, south central between Red Bud trail close to the low water bridge and Bee Caves road. My question: I want to make the wooded sections of my yard attractive. They have filtered sun...
view the full question and answer

Herbicide use in bluebonnet field in Blanco, TX
April 10, 2012 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I have the best of both worlds and the worst of both worlds. Iíve been throwing bluebonnet seeds for 6 years on our property near Blanco, and when it rains, as it has this year...
view the full question and answer

Non-native bermudagrass in meadow in Allen TX
August 17, 2011 - What is the effect of not killing or removing bermuda grass when converting an area to a prairie meadow in Allen, Texas? Most articles describing how to create and establish a prairie meadow suggest ...
view the full question and answer

Help with Habiturf from Bertram TX
March 24, 2014 - I am a resident of Bertram..about 45 min northwest of Austin. I have 1.33 acres of land with my home on it. My front pasture is pretty nice native grass but my backyard is full of weeds. I'm guessing...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center