How to Plant a Tree in Your Pasture

If you missed all the important things that trees can do for you and your livestock, check out last week's article, “Take Your Grazing Up a Level By Adding Trees to Your Pastures.”. It’s that time of year when everyone has long forgotten the cold of winter and the mild days of spring. The summer heat is fully upon us. I don’t know about you, but I don’t do so well in the heat. I had the option yesterday of walking around an open pasture in full sun on a humid, 90-degree day, or take it easy in the shade and take a few phone calls. You can bet I parked myself in the shade. As you well know, it’s no different for livestock. They would much rather stand in a creek or hunker down under a shade tree in the heat of the day than venture out to graze. And while having a tree or two in the paddock is a welcome gift to the livestock, concentrating all that impact and manure in one spot isn’t helping pasture health. I’ve spent the last two years puzzling

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4 thoughts on “How to Plant a Tree in Your Pasture

  1. Just curious as to what kind of trees are in the plantings in the photos and what are the spacings within the rows and between the rows?

    On the topic of animals camping under shade trees and over -manuring and trampling…is there any solution besides moving the animals to the next paddock before damage is done? Even if there are several trees in a paddock, my sheep will pick a favorite one and all lie there. If there are no trees they still pick a favorite place to lie to ruminate and rest and drop manure ,which occupies many more hours than grazing.

    1. Great questions Emily.

      The trees are a mixture of honey locust, black locust, persimmon, hybrid willow, hybrid poplar and mulberry. The honey locust and persimmon are primarily for dropped feed late in the season, black locust for prolific nitrogen fixation, and the others as sources of tree fodder.

      The spacing is rather tight in this one. Due to stipulations attached to the funding source, we had to hit 155 trees/acre. Since we used 40′ between rows, that means we need 7′ between trees in the row. Though it’s tight, it can definitely work, since many trees will be pollarded and lower branches will be pruned off others. If there wasn’t a density requirement, I likely would have gone about half as dense.

      I wish I could give you a good answer about getting sheep to move more, or spread their impact around evenly. It sounds like they get pretty attached to a spot and have a strong instinct to stick with the flock. One tree-planting option could be to plant trees in clusters, creating a grove that can accommodate the whole flock at once.

      I’ve included a link below to a resource on pollarding if you’re interested in learning more.

  2. Thank you for encouraging more tree planting in pastures. Great topic. But I couldn’t see any trees! ? Just the white sleeve. How can the tree survive without leaves out in the sun?

    1. Hi Nina,

      I should clarify that. There are trees inside each of those tubes, enjoying a little greenhouse effect. They don’t get to spread their branches until they get to the top, but that encourages a nicer growth form.

      Tree tubes are pretty much standard practice in tree planting for conservation. Mostly they’re used to keep deer and voles away, and mark where the tree is so we don’t lose it, which is a big problem with small trees in an area of high grass.

      For pasture areas, we have to beef up the shelters a bit to withstand rubbing and browsing by much larger animals than deer, but the shelters are what forms the protection around the tree until it matures enough to fend for itself.

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