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

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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

QUESTION:

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.

ANSWER:

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


Buffalograss
Bouteloua dactyloides

Big bluestem
Andropogon gerardii

Canada wild rye
Elymus canadensis

Virginia wildrye
Elymus virginicus

Eastern gamagrass
Tripsacum dactyloides

Indiangrass
Sorghastrum nutans

Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

Sideoats grama
Bouteloua curtipendula

Blue grama
Bouteloua gracilis

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