Widespread drought across the Prairies (and Northern Great Plains) has pushed many livestock producers to source resources for the upcoming winter from elsewhere.

But as feed resources move across the country, both in Canada and the U.S., extension specialists warn that noxious weeds might be on the move too, and that livestock producers should be aware of what they’re buying.

“Whenever we start moving feed from one spot to the other, we always run into what the feed is that you bought, but other seeds that are brought in with it,” says Karl Hoppe, livestock systems specialist at North Dakota State University Extension.

Palmer amaranth has strong resistance to many different herbicide modes of action, and while North Dakota has been dealing with for some time, it has also been found in Manitoba. It’s just one example of a problem weed from elsewhere that could hitch a ride in a bale of hay (or a seed lot, too).

“Sometimes you always think that we can put it in the compost, and if you feed the cattle we can compost the manure, and that’ll reduce the weed seeds but well, you know the grinding of the teeth of cattle, the digestion, the rumen fermentation, all help to degrade the quality of the feed, but all it takes is one or two per cent to pass through,” says Hoppe.

“You get a little bit more than you bought,” he adds.

If feed is contaminated with weed seeds, Hoppe says it’s imperative to identify them right when the feed’s brought in, and with a small weed seed like Palmer amaranth, grinding it into a powder is the only way to mitigate spread.

Hoppe suggests to target using that particular feed in a yard, so that any weed populations can be watched and destroyed, especially if there is suspected herbicide resistant populations.

“Keeping records is a good idea, no matter where you’re at, so you can trace back to where it came from, just so you have a history of what’s going on,” says Hoppe. Whether it’s weed seeds or grass seed contaminants that can’t be ground or destroyed, then they should be contained.

“We need to be careful of what we buy, sometimes we’re buying more than what we think we bought,” says Hoppe.

Listen to the full conversation with Hoppe and Kara Oosterhuis below:

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