Tuesday, June 26, 2001

TEAM Leafy Spurge Publishes Grazing Manual
By Steve Merritt for the MSU News Service

Contact: Steve Merritt (406-433-9440; smerritt@sidney.ars.usda.gov)

SIDNEY, Montana – If youíre interested in using sheep to manage leafy spurge, TEAM Leafy Spurge has a must-read manual that will likely answer most of your questions.

"Multi-Species Grazing and Leafy Spurge" is a full-color, 28-page how-to handbook that focuses on multi-species grazing as a tool to manage leafy spurge, improve range health and productivity, and potentially add a profitable enterprise to existing ranch operations.

Tim Faller, director of the North Dakota State University-Hettinger Research Extension Center and leader of the TEAM Leafy Spurge multi-species grazing research and demonstration project, says the manual is a particularly good tool for ranchers who are new to the sheep business.

"The subtitle says ĎA comprehensive, easy-to-read manual on using multi-species grazing as an effective leafy spurge management tool,í and that sums up my feelings about the manual," Faller said. "Itís an excellent tool for ranchers who donít have any experience with sheep or goats, and for ranchers who are looking for alternative leafy spurge control tools." The manual covers all of the basics. Topics include how multi-species grazing works, what can be expected from multi-species grazing programs, diet selection, stocking rates, fencing requirements, predation and more. The manual also features an extensive section on economics.

"There are a lot of scenarios and a lot of things to think about, and economics is obviously one of the most important considerations," Faller said. "This manual walks ranchers through different types of economic considerations to see if multi-species grazing is a good fit for their existing operation." For example, sheep do not necessarily have to be profitable in order to add profitability to the entire operation, Faller said. In most cases, the economic benefits of multi-species grazing – such as leafy spurge control, enhanced range utilization, improved forage production, etc. – will exceed the costs of adding sheep to an existing operation. And, in some situations, ranchers can profit from sheep production as well as leafy spurge control.

"The manual provides some simple formulas that can be used to figure out the economics for your specific operation," Faller said. "The formulas alone are a really valuable tool." While some cattle ranchers may not like the idea of adding sheep to their cattle operations, Faller said multi-species grazing offers numerous benefits that should be considered if leafy spurge is a problem. "The manual identifies and discusses some common fallacies about mixing sheep and cattle, and I think thatís important," he said. "Cattle ranchers need to let go of any preconceived ideas they might have about sheep if they are looking for a long-term, sustainable solution to leafy spurge control."

The manual is available by calling 406-433-2020 or by sending an e-mail request to teamls@sidney.ars.usda.gov. It can also downloaded or viewed on-line from the TEAM Leafy Spurge website at www.team.ars.usda.gov/grazingmanual.html

TEAM Leafy Spurge is a five-year IPM research and demonstration project funded and led by the USDA-ARS in partnership with the USDA-Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service. Itís goal is providing landowners and land managers with proven leafy spurge control techniques based on IPM strategies.

For additional information on TEAM Leafy Spurge, leafy spurge biocontrol or Integrated Pest Management, see the TEAM Leafy Spurge website at www.team.ars.usda.gov/ or send an e-mail to teamls@sidney.ars.usda.gov

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