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29 May, 2009

The Spurge is back

Leafy spurge is a weed in Stillwater County, Montana and most other places where it grows wild. It has a very deep tap root, 20 to 30 feet deep, the sap is like latex, and uncontrolled, it will take over your property. Less than a mile from where these pictures were taken, a rancher once lost his ranch because he said, I ain't never going to have sheep on my ranch, I'm a cattleman. The spurge took over and he lost his ranch. How is it controlled. Sheep eat it, it has between 35-40% protein, so it's great feed. There is a spurge beetle that is available to the ranchers in early July. This is the only other way to control the weed. Originally it was imported from Russia as an ornamental plant.

The first picture tells the story. This neighbor has turned his sheep onto the county road to eat the leafy spurge. It is the yellowish green looking plant in the pictures. The county can't control it with weed spray, so let the sheep loose. The second picture is part of the flock as they move down the road, grazing on the spurge, and the final picture is one of a mother and her lamb, the mother's mouth full of spurge and the lamb enjoying the day.

The Johnson Place which is the 5000 acre ranch to the south of ours is loaded with spurge. The semi's have been arriving for several days and ultimately there will be at least 3000 sheep there for the summer. Yes, in case you are wondering, we have spurge on our property also.


  1. Hey nice blog... It would have been great if someone looked after the sheep, so that they wouldn't move to road..
    Work from home

  2. There is a sheep herder on the road with the sheep. The spurge is a delicacy for the sheep and there grazing is one of the few ways you can control it.