There is many a cowboy who likely wouldn’t dream of kicking the cows off his land and running sheep or goats. We get that. But if you haven’t thought about the benefits of using sheep and goats on pasture, you may be missing out on a very efficient means of getting more out your existing land base. It turns out, goats and sheep grazing on the same land as cattle can actually bump total pasture production and have long-term positive impacts for grass availability for cattle.
RealAgriculture.com field editor, Debra Murphy, recently attended the Multi-Species Grazing Workshop sponsored by Sexton Grazing and Consulting in Hanley, SK. While there, she spoke to Roger Ingram, county director and farm advisor with the University of California Cooperative Extension about the benefits of including small ruminants in pasture grazing.
“The goats and the cattle are preferentially grazing on different species,” Ingram says, “and as a result they are not competing with each other for forage.” This allows producers to increase the overall stocking rate of a paddock. What do your pastures look like now? Are you seeing an encroachment of silver willow, western snowberry or leafy spurge? In this video, Ingram discusses preferential grazing, ice cream and the benefits of multi-species grazing, including weed and brush control.
Utilizing goats can actually mean more grass for your cattle — Roger Ingram
Ingram doesn’t expect cattle ranchers to rush out the door and buy all the sheep and goats they can find, as there are big picture handling and production considerations that need to be addressed, like predator control. However, Ingram notes that sheep or goat producers may be interested in a pasture swap or lease agreement so everyone benefits with a minimal amount of capital investment.
If you cannot view the embedded video, click here.