A few docks in a paddock grazing system may not seem a problem. However they can rapidly become a major problem due to the system itself. To maximise annual grass production producers target increasingly lower residual grass heights when the stock are moved on. A common recommendation is to move them when they have eaten half way into the unpalatable grass around dung pats. At this severity of grazing, stock will also begin to graze seed heads taking in massive numbers of seeds. The majority of seeds remain undamaged through the animal’s digestive tract and in fact benefit by coming out the other end generously coated with a complete fertiliser. However by the time they are excreted the stock have been moved onto a new paddock where they carefully deposit the seed all over it!
Although in a set stocking system each dock will produce just as much seed, the lower grazing pressure means it is much less likely to be eaten and hence will spread less rapidly.
Basil Lowman, email@example.com
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