Managing Multi-Species Grazing

On old MacDonald’s Farm, there were all types of animals—here a moo, there an oink and over there a cluck, cluck—but managing multiple species and the pastures that support them in a forage-based environment is more akin to a complex symphony with you, the farmer, as the conductor.  Regardless of the players (aka: species), there are five major sections of a diversified farm that must be well managed for success. While multiple forage systems are the foundation to any pasture-centric operation, the key to diversified livestock production is infrastructure overlap. By this I mean that capital investments such as fencing , housing, water and handling systems pertain to more than a single species. Forage Not all plants are created equal. What may be considered highly nutritious, pristine forage for one species may not provide adequate feed for another. Similarly, the woodlot full of dense undergrowth of invasive plants may be a highly coveted feedstock for a farmer willing to look beyond traditional forages.  Furthermore, not all forages are plant-based. Consider a fetid cow pie covered in bugs. While herbivores will give a wide berth to one when grazing, that same pile of poo is a veritable smorgasbord for poultry and pigs making it every bit a source of forage as a stand of grass or legumes and is equally manageable to gain the most amount of nutrients. Fencing [caption id="a

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2 thoughts on “Managing Multi-Species Grazing

  1. We graze Large Black hogs with chickens, and in the past with feeder lambs. We have seen great improvements with soil fertility and forage quality in our sandy soils. We have also seen the change in animal health as the need for antibiotics and commercial wormers has greatly diminished

  2. You forgot to mention that grazing different species can damage health. I recently checked with my veterinarian asking if I can graze my goats and cows together. She told me that I could, but both get BVD. I have registered Angus and registered Boers. I asked if i could test the Boers to be sure they didn’t carry anything that could infect my cows. She said, the test is not 100%. If it is wrong, you could infect all your cows with illness.

    I decided to forget the idea of mixing them. Although it could be beneficial to the pasture, the cost could be more than I want to pay.

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