What are you doing to help pollinating creatures big and small? At DS Family Farm we celebrated “Pollinator Week” by setting aside a large patch of Milkweed! In the photo below our cattle herd is moving through this paddock on daily moves. When they reach this section of the paddock, we have installed an extra temporary poly wire fence to prevent the cattle from grazing off this patch of milkweed. At any one time, most of our pastures are ungrazed using daily moves, so we have milkweed protected across the farm. Since herd moves were coming up to this milkweed area during Pollinator Week, we made the extra effort to keep the cattle out.
Our cows desire milkweed for some reason that we don’t understand. Maybe it is nutrition or maybe the plant aids in digestion, some other reason? Diversity in their diet is important and rarely do we consider any of the vegetation growing in our pastures as “weeds”. So why keep the cows from our largest patch of milkweed? Monarch butterflies, are in need of conservation and require milkweed to complete their reproductive cycle. Within the past two weeks we have observed about 20 Monarch butterflies during our paddock moves. How does this compare to past years? Unfortunately this is not something we have tracked in the past but plan to record our observations into the future.
For a good source on pollinator conservation, check out the Xerces Society. Following is a list ideas to help protect pollinators, things we try to do here in our pastures:
- Increasing the availability of milkweed seed to help create monarch butterfly habitat;
- Would you like to come harvest milkweed seed at DS Family Farm?
- Work with farmers to create pesticide-free, flower-rich habitat on farms;
- DS Family Farm has taken the “Bring Back The Pollinators” pledge.
- Assisting in the search for rare native bumble bees;
- We identify native bumble bee nests and protect them from disturbance.
So go ahead, take the challenge to Bring Back The Pollinators!