Wednesday, July 8, 2015

AuSable Forks Farm Testing Livestock Forage

AsgaardGoatsInField3005Certain types of pasture plants may help small livestock owners control deadly internal parasites. As part of a Northern New York Agricultural Development Program project, sheep and goats in Canton, Cape Vincent, and AuSable Forks are now grazing pastures planted a year ago with specific species of birdsfoot trefoil, a legume that may have an antiworm effect on the livestock.

With 2015 funding from the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program, project leaders Dr. Michael L. Thonney and Dr. Tatiana Stanton of the Cornell University Sheep and Goat programs are looking to adapt the success that small livestock growers in the Southeastern U.S. have had grazing animals on forages with high tannin concentration to our region.

Small livestock grazing in the South have shown improved resistance to barber pole worm, or stomach worm, a major cause of death in pastured sheep and goats says Thonney and Stanton. Northern New York sheep and goat farmers often report resistance to multiple deworming products.

ELFnnyadpLambsGrazeHodge3005Their research began in the spring of 2014 with the planting of three acres of a birdsfoot trefoil species known as Pardee at the St. Lawrence County Cornell Cooperative Extension Learning Farm in Canton. Asgaard Goat Farm and Dairy, an organic operation in AuSable Forks, planted a trial of three acres of the birdsfoot trefoil species Bruce in the fall of 2014.

Each farm followed Cornell soil sampling, planting, and fertilizer guidelines. NNY Field Crops and Soils Specialist Kitty O’Neil with Cornell Cooperative Extension supervised the planting of the pasture trials and is evaluating how well the trefoil crops establish and grow at each site.

The results of a comparison of parasite control in the animals grazing in the Northern New York farm trials with control groups grazing on standard pastures this summer is expected to be available in the spring of 2016 on the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program website at

Photos provided.

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3 Responses

  1. Wren Hawk says:

    Isn’t birdsfoot trefoil an aggressive invasive species? Given all the effort to eradicate invasives it seems odd to encourage its introduction in a context where spread risk is high, natural controls are effective only with persistent care, and, in the case of Asgaard, chemical control might be undesirable? I must be missing something.

  2. John Warren says:

    According to Cornell Cooperative Extension:

    “Birdsfoot trefoil is not listed on the NYS invasive species list. It is considered invasive by a couple of other Midwestern states, but here in NY it is not aggressive. It was grown for seed all up and down the Champlain Valley in the 30s and 40s but the industry shifted to the Pacific Northwest after the NY crop failed from a fungal disease. The popularity of birdsfoot trefoil waned with the introduction of more popular and productive alfalfa varieties and now BFT is a relatively minor pasture and hay legume species. You can find small patches or individual BFT plants occasionally along roadsides and ditches, but it does not seem to approach anything close to a classification of ‘invasive,’ ‘aggressive’ or even ‘nuisance.'”

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