The plant can be very nutritious for livestock, a research scientist said
By Diego Flammini
A weed capable of causing significant yield losses could be a source of feed for livestock.
Producers with kochia pressure heavy enough to jeopardize the viability of a grain crop may want to consider harvesting the weed for use as greenfeed, said Alan Iwassa, a research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC).
The weed can produce up to 25,000 seeds per plant, but a farmer could use that to his or her advantage.
“In that case then the Kochia would be a very good ingredient in that (feed) mixture, which you could use as a feed source for your cattle,” he said, Discover Estevan reported.
The plant is very palatable during the vegetative stage and can have health benefits like traditional sources of animal feed.
“Kochia at that stage can be very nutritious and have crude protein values very similar to some of our very good-quality forages such as alfalfa,” he said.
Allowing the weed to mature longer will give it woodier stems, which can cause challenges for harvesting equipment while also reducing forage quality.
And no more than half of a cattle’s ration should be made up of the weed, Iwassa said.
But kochia contains saponins, alkaloids, oxalates and nitrates at levels that could be harmful to cattle, Saskatchewan Agriculture says.
Farms.com has reached out to AAFC and the Saskatchewan Cattle Feeders Association for comment.