Looking to add some grazing livestock to your homestead? Here is what you should plant to keep them healthy and well-fed.
If you’re planning to raise animals on your homestead, you’ll need to consider what kind you want to start with, so that you can adequately prepare for their arrival. One of the things you will need to plan for ahead of time is how you are going to feed your livestock.
Most types of livestock you would raise on a homestead will require some kind of grass or forage. While you can certainly supplement with grain, for healthy animals and a sustainable homestead, you will definitely want to make sure you have a good-sized area for your livestock to graze.
Whether you’re looking at chickens, turkeys, sheep, goats, cows, or even rabbits, all of these could be classified as grazing animals. These hungry grass eaters will require more than just the kind of grass that grows in your lawn, however.
Below are a few tips for what kinds of plants you will want to establish on your homestead before adding grazing livestock to the picture.
Pasture typically consists of three major plant types, and each one is needed to provide an important element of your animals’ nutrition:
- Grasses, which can include any of the turf or grain crops common in North America, such as wheat, barley, bluegrass and native prairie grasses.
- Legumes, such as nitrogen-fixing clover, alfalfa, peas and beans.
- Forbs, which are various flowering plants that often grow in fields of grasses and legumes. These can include dandelions, turnips, chicory and kale.
It’s best to have a variety of all three available to your animals, and you’ll need to do research on your growing zone and soil type to select varieties that will do well on your property.
Best Bets for Small Livestock
For chickens and turkeys, it’s easiest to provide poultry feed at will and supplement with what you grow to make sure they get their greens. If you already have a vegetable garden, you’ll have a steady supply of beet greens, carrot tops and other leafy waste from cabbage and broccoli…
Chickens are also psyched to get overripe berries or cherry tomatoes, too. If you’re willing to let them free range, you’ll need to fence off your garden first, then let them at your lawn grasses and clover.
If you’re considering keeping rabbits for meat or for fiber, you can start a mini pasture plot to raise alfalfa, oats or timothy. They’ll enjoy it fresh or dried as hay.
Pasture Plants for Large Livestock
Ruminants like sheep, goats and cows need a whole lot of the green stuff to keep them going, so you’ll need a large plot of land to sow with the three pasture basics discussed above. You can also make better use of your space by planting cover crops over garden beds as you empty them of your summer crops.
Good cover crops for wintertime feeding include rye, sorghum, oats and peas. Animals on winter pasture still need a proper mix of grain in their diet, so be sure to research the right feed mix for your cows or goats.
See the full article at FlourOnMyFace.com for more info…