Prescribed grazing is an effective tool for controlling some rangeland weeds. Forage quality of eight nonnative rangeland weeds common to northern Idaho was determined. Five collection sites were established for each weed species: rush skeletonweed, meadow hawkweed, houndstongue, sulfur cinquefoil, yellow starthistle, Dalmatian toadflax, hoary cress, and tansy ragwort. Plants were collected at rosette, bolt, flower, and seed set stages; dried and separated into leaves, stems, flowers, or seed; and analyzed separately for crude protein (CP), neutral detergent fiber (NDF), and mineral content (ash). As expected, plants became more fibrous as they matured because stems increased in NDF value throughout the season and the leaf ∶ stem ratio of most weeds we examined decreased throughout the season. In general, the weeds we examined expressed only moderate fiber levels, beginning the season with NDF values near 34% in the rosette stage and becoming near 52% NDF in the seed set stage. CP values were near 25% in the rosette stage for houndstongue, rush skeletonweed, and hoary cress whereas other weeds we examined had about 15% CP in the rosette. As the season advanced, all plants lost protein content and ended the season with CP values from 5 to 8% at seed set. Ash values declined for all species as the season progressed. Our results indicate that these weeds have forage values similar to many native plants and could be reasonable forage resources for livestock. We did not examine the content of secondary compounds in these weeds that may render them unpalatable and limit their forage value.
Nomenclature: Dalmatian toadflax, Linaria dalmatica (L.) P. Mill. LINDA; hoary cress, Lepidium draba (L.) Desv. LEDRD; houndstongue, Cynoglossum officinale L. CYWOF; meadow hawkweed, Hieracium caespitosum Dumort. HIECA; rush skeletonweed, Chondrilla juncea L. CHOJU; sulfur cinquefoil, Potentilla recta L. PTLRC; tansy ragwort, Senecia jacobeae L. SENJA; yellow starthistle, Centaurea solstitialis L. CENSO