Managing Medusahead with Cattle Grazing and Revegetation

In the channel scabland region of eastern Washington, velvet lupine grows within medusahead infested rangelands. Velvet lupine contains the teratogenic alkaloid, anagyrine, which can cause birth defects if consumed by pregnant cattle between 40 to 100 days of gestation. Previous research in this area has found that cattle select annual grasses until they start to mature and dry and then switch to green forbs. As the green forbs begin to dry and mature, cattle switch their consumption to lupine.

PhD student Clint Stonecipher is studying how supplementation may to help grazing livestock eat more medusahead and possibly reduce medusahead infestations. In addition to an increased use of medusahead, an appropriate supplement may also reduce grazing of lupine by cattle.

Two studies will be conducted to determine their effects on medusahead and lupine:

  1. The first study will determine if cattle can be encouraged to graze medusahead using supplements that complement the nutritional composition of medusahead.
  2. The second study will incorporate a reseeding effort of cool-season grasses and forage kochia to improve range conditions and plant diversity.