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Is Johnson Grass Hay safe???

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by jkl79, Dec 17, 2008.

  1. jkl79

    jkl79 In the Brooder

    Apr 5, 2008
    Central TX
    Coastal hay has gotten pretty scarce in my area and so we just bought a round bale of johnson hay for the cows and donkeys. I should have researched this first, but just assumed it was fine since so much is being sold around here. How safe is johnson grass (or how dangerous) when it's hay? I'm very worried that I may inadvertently have poisoned my animals. Help!
  2. Rusty Hills Farm

    Rusty Hills Farm Songster

    Apr 3, 2008
    Up at the barn
    I don't know the answer to this, so I did some quick research and that led me to the opinion that I would not feed it without check with a vet first.

    Here is a sample of what I found:

    Johnson grass (Sorghum halepense) is a plant in the grass family, Poaceae, native to the Mediterranean region, but growing throughout Europe and the Middle East. The plant has been introduced to all continents except Antarctica and most larger islands and archipelago. It reproduces by rhizomes and seeds.

    Johnson grass has been used for forage and to stop erosion, but it is often considered a weed for the following reasons:

    1. Foliage that becomes wilted from frost or hot dry weather can contain sufficient amounts of prussic acid to kill cattle and horses if it is eaten in quantity.
    2. The foliage can cause 'bloat' in such herbivores from the accumulation of excessive nitrates; otherwise, it is edible.
    3. It grows and spreads so quickly that it can 'choke out' other cash crops that have been planted by farmers.

    In Argentina the plant is causing new problems as it is growing resistant to the popular herbicide glyphosate[1].

    See also

    * List of plants poisonous to equines
    * Wikimedia Commons logo Media related to Sorghum halepense at Wikimedia Commons

  3. spook

    spook Songster

    Apr 21, 2008
    North Central Florida
    Wow, thanks for this question, I've never heard of Johnson hay and to "rusy" for the reply, that is very interesting! Who would have thought any grass could be harmful!
  4. Tn Gamebirds

    Tn Gamebirds Songster

    Around here we feed johnson grass hay a lot to horses and cattle. Never had any problem.

    On the dry years johnson grass seems to come out a lot in the hay fields on the second cutting. It's pretty fair hay if you cut it before the stems get to big.

    And like i said we've never had any problem with feeding it to horses ,cattle ,or the goats. I think you'll be fine with feeding it
  5. Florida chick

    Florida chick Songster

    Jan 19, 2008
    Its not worth the chance to us. I never feed it. We feed Coastal and Perennial Peanut. ( more pricey) but its not going to kill your livestock.
  6. Tn Gamebirds

    Tn Gamebirds Songster

    The johnson grass hay will not kill your livestock either!
    1 person likes this.
  7. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    My understanding is that you're more likely to have a problem with standing, growing johnson grass than with the hay from it; but even with the hay there is a chance of problems, depending on how it was growing when it was cut and baled. Usually it is ok but not *always*.

    Can you buy some other hay and cut the johnson grass stuff with it, 50/50 or whatever is practical? That would give you further insurance.

    Good luck,

  8. Florida chick

    Florida chick Songster

    Jan 19, 2008
    Just Google Johnson grass and Livestock poison. There is PLENTY of reading material to back up that it can and will posion livestock. IT IS possible to manage it but at a high risk. I would stay away from it.
  9. Tn Gamebirds

    Tn Gamebirds Songster

    were talking about the hay , not the green grass. Like any other grass it does have to be cut and baled right to be safe. You cant feed any type of grass safely if its baled to green or wet and has mold in it.

    I'm just saying in this part of the country theres a lot of it in the dry summers we've been having. It's in just about every hay field you see. On dairy farms and beef cattle farms.

    We've never had any problem with feeding it. But to each his own.
  10. jkl79

    jkl79 In the Brooder

    Apr 5, 2008
    Central TX
    Thank to everyone for your replies! We bought the hay from a reputable operation and I have a hard time thinking they sell that much hay in bulk if it would end up killing a lot of animals. It still makes me very nervous, and I'll try not to do it again - but with the drought - the coastal bales are very scarce. Thanks again!

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