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Texas Gardening: Wildflowers poisonous to Cattle ?

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Forum: Texas GardeningReplies: 7, Views: 57
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Central Texas, TX
(Zone 8a)

January 22, 2013
5:18 PM

Post #9394102

My family bought a Ranch recently and plan to continue leasing the land to the man who currently runs cows on the property. The cows roam all over the property and graze on even the live oaks out there. I have not seen the property during the Spring or Summer so I don't know if wildflowers grow anywhere on the land. I want to try to get some wildflower/flower fields growing but 1) I'm afraid the cows might eat them all and I'll waste seed money and 2) more importantly I don't want to make any of the cows sick. Do you know if any of these flowers will hurt the cows?

Shasta Daisy
Lance-Leaf Coreopsis
Plains Coreopsis
Wild Cosmos
Chinese Forget-Me-Not
Sweet William
Purple Coneflower
California Poppy
Globe Gilia
Indian Blanket
Baby's Breath
Rose Mallow
Blazing Star or Gayfeather
Scarlet Flax
Blue Flax
Sweet Alyssum
Wild Lupine
Texas Bluebonnet
Evening Primrose
Red Poppy, Shirley Poppy or Corn Poppy
Drummond Phlox
Clasping Coneflower
Black-eyed Susan
Gloriosa Daisy
Scarlet Sage
Blanket Flower (Gaillardia aristata)

I have read info on this site and googled but I seem to get conflicting info. I really don't want to plant anything that will poison the cows.

Also I'm assuming Mountain Laurels (as shrubs or trees) would be a no-no because of the seeds... thoughts on that one?

Thanks for any wisdom you can provide.
Central, TX
(Zone 8b)

January 23, 2013
6:19 AM

Post #9394508

Cattle and Texas wildflowers have co-existed for hundreds of years so don't be concerned about planting a good wildflower mix. This current drought has impacted our wildflowers greatly so who knows what this spring will bring in the way of blooms - you might wait a few months to find out what survives on your ranch land.

Discuss your concerns with Wildseed in Fredericksburg, your county AgriLife Extension Agent, neighboring ranchers who have been in the business for some time, and DO visit with the folks at Bamberger Ranch in Blanco (5500 acre "restoration" ranch):

Do your research before spending a penny or removing any plant life from your new ranch! The only exception to that would be ash juniper - the Bamberger folks can tell you how to accomplish that without damaging your land.

Best Wishes...

PS - For cattle roaming over all the pasture there should be a "stocking rate" based on what the land (pasture grass) can carry and still recover. Otherwise grass and wildflowers can be eaten out of existence.

This message was edited Jan 23, 2013 8:25 AM
Central Texas, TX
(Zone 8a)

January 23, 2013
7:47 PM

Post #9395501

Thanks for the great info. And right now due to the drought the cattleman is bringing in hay but every time we go out there, cows are grazing on something (hay, trees, ground cover). And the only thing I plan to remove from the land is scrub cedar. I'm allergic. Previous owners cleared a bunch but over the years some have come back. Thanks again.


Josephine, Arlington, TX
(Zone 8a)

January 23, 2013
8:56 PM

Post #9395550

I found this list of plants that are poisonous to livestock on Google.


Magnolia, TX
(Zone 8b)

January 25, 2013
8:02 AM

Post #9397133

The live oaks should have lower limbs cleared to above the cows reach- oak can be toxic - but they also represent a danger in eye pokes and 'weeds' in cattles grazing areas can cause conjunctivitis - cows AREN'T smart- they eat things like baling wires and other metals that can hurt them, as well as as clovers that bloat them... (why cattle magnets are fed to a cow to keep the damages in one spot)
Central Texas, TX
(Zone 8a)

January 31, 2013
1:30 PM

Post #9403954

Thanks for the info. We bought over 200 acres so there is NO way we can clear all the lower limbs of the live oaks. They are everywhere. The ones by the gate are thick and are no more than 4-5 feet tall so the cows can reach all of the branches. My basic thought is the cows have been there a long time and I'm not going to worry about what is already growing. The cattlemen have run their cows on the ranch for decades so they know what's there. I just don't want to PLANT anything that can hurt them. The whole Do No Harm idea.

Josephine, I saw that list but then several other articles I found refuted some of those plants as poisonous. This is where I got confused and posted. I'll definitely be mindful of that list.
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

January 31, 2013
5:02 PM

Post #9404175

I have cattle on free range land that also has native grasses and native wildflowers. I have always been told that Bluebonnets are poisonous to cattle. I don't know this for sure but I do know they stay away from it. I have found that if there is plenty to eat they won't graze on things that could be harmful.

If I were you I'd be more worried about them eating the things that you plant. Lol


Magnolia, TX
(Zone 8b)

February 2, 2013
9:59 AM

Post #9405951

Ditto to the eating what you planted and as long as they hhad plenty to eat they wod be apt to leave alone what they didnt find tasty.

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