Multi-species Grazing Management Part 1 – Saddle Horses Are Jerks

First off, let me assure you I do not hate horses. In fact, this article is not really about horses at all. It is about soil and grass. Horses, though, can really improve grass and soil even though the way they are currently managed does the opposite. It’s just that when horses are grazed in a group with cattle, sheep, and hogs (what I call a MOB), they have some peculiarities as does each species I have dealt with. There appears to be a hierarchy of species when they are combined. Saddle horses tend to have an air of aristocracy above all others. It’s not even all horses; just saddle horses. For some reason, being trained changes a horse’s perception of itself because I have not seen this behavior when grazing bucking horses. Cattle, on the other hand, are pretty easy going and are content with good grass and clean water. They do not, however, appreciate pushy sheep. Yes sheep are pushy! They butt to the front of the line and don’t observe proper social etiquette. For some reason sheep don’t take the hint when a cow bunts them out of the way. Hogs can be that way as well, but are actually the social butterflies of the MOB. They don’t really care who they hang out with as long as there is good grass to eat. Side note: turkeys have not fare

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3 thoughts on “Multi-species Grazing Management Part 1 – Saddle Horses Are Jerks

  1. I had great fun reading about MOB grazing! I had inadvertently stumbled onto this technique on our family farm, to which I’d been called back (as eldest child) while my father was dying of cancer at home. We still had herds of Belted Galloways, sheep, mouflons, and several horses, and it proved overwhelmingly time-consuming for me to tend to their feeding and management separately (in addition to my father’s). Thinking of the diversity of the African savanna, I decided it might be okay to try putting them all together. And once the hierarchy had been established after a couple of raucous and worrisome days, there was peace! The chorus of calls from the group assembled at the fence each morning was touching and life-affirming, and the sight of ALL streaking as a single herd across the pastures in the electric air before a thunderstorm was exhilarating and provided much-needed comic relief. Thanks!

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience Nuna. Excessive labour was the same reason I started MOB grazing. What are mouflons?

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