Burrs In The Pastures


Cockleburr & Burdock - two weeds of the same family.

     These are two common weeds that produce evil, tangling burrs that are a llama or alpaca's nightmare - especially right before a show!

  After the flowers mature on Cocklebur plants, they produce hundreds of tiny football-shaped burrs, covered with stiff spines that hook together, about one inch long.  The actual burr contains two seeds that can last for many years.  These burrs tightly attach to clothing, shoe laces, and form huge tangled balls in the fur of animals.  Not only do these burrs create discomfort for the animals, the young plants contain toxins that can make animals that graze on them sick - they can even cause death.  By attaching to various things, these cocklebur plants hitchhike all over the world.

     The Burdock plant is similar and also easily recognized in early spring by the triangular shaped "elephant ear" leaves.  The flowers can be pink, purple, or white which then develop into hundreds of burrs.  When these burrs dry, they break apart spreading hundreds of seeds.  It's hard to dig an established plant because of the long taproot.  Mowing must be done before the plant has bloomed or mowing will simply spread the seeds.  Burrs can cause real problems for animals, including eye infections, skin problems, and mouth sores. 

     For llama and alpaca owners, it's a priority to remove these weeds from the pastures!  The plants can be removed by pulling by hand, hoeing, or using a weed killer.  You'll want to get these plants early in the summer before the seeds start to form to get rid of the burrs from your pastures.  If you have burrs, make sure you dispose of them carefully to prevent them from re-seeding.  It may take several sessions of pulling, hoeing, and spraying to remove all the burr plants.  Mowing cockleburr when it's young keeps it from blossoming, forming seeds, and spreading.  Mow frequently and before the seeds form.

The plant has a long taproot which is hard to get completely out.  Some people have had good luck ridding their pastures of this plant by putting salt at the base of the plant when it first starts growing in the spring.  It can be easily recognized by the large "elephant ear" leaves that grow across from each other when it's young.

     Here is a suggested all natural weed killer that won't hurt your animals.  Be careful where you spray, it's said to kill everything.  Some prefer to brush it on the leaves of the plant with a brush.

All Natural Weed Killer:  Mix together 1 gallon white vinegar, 1 cup of salt, and 2 tablespoons blue Dawn soap.


     Removing burrs from the llama's wool is a time-consuming job.  One suggestion is to crush the burrs with a pair of pliers to dislodge them from sticking together.  Once crushed, they may be combed out using a lot of hair conditioner.  Another suggestion is to use baby powder or spray with Pam.



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