Leafy spurge has been the bane of ranchers for over a century. Its impact on the farm community is stunning. Historically, Montana cattle ranchers like John Lesnick’s late father, Leo, could do little to reduce the economic impact of spurge. When the plant’s tissue is damaged, it emits a milky sap that irritates the skin and makes the plant unpalatable to cattle. Once a site reaches the 50% infestation level, cattle refuse to graze at all, rendering the land worthless. In 1964, after seeing how a fellow beef producer, Wilbur Holms, used sheep to rehabilitate ground claimed by spurge, Leo Lesnick invested in a small band to graze his infestations. In a little over a decade, the spurge population had dropped, in even the densest stands, to around 5%. 



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