Lambs, and Chickens, and Cows, Oh My! Multi-Species Grazing on the Farm

June always brings us so much beauty and fragrance.  The verdant pastures are bursting with life and the field roses' intoxicatingly sweet smell reminds us to savor each month and each day.

 

The farm has been an exciting place to be lately! Thus far there have been four calves born over the past 8 days.  It is such a thrill to find a wobbly-legged calf suckling for the first time in the tall grass.  The heifers who have not yet calved are looking quite eager to move things along as they hobble through the field, udders swollen.

 

So this year to add to the excitement (and the work) we have decided to add lambs to the mix.  We bought ten lambs from Vermont Shepherd with the intention of grazing them behind the cows and before the chickens.  Multi-species grazing can be a huge benefit to our pastures and adds a "stackable enterprise" to our farm so we are not just a beef farm or just a chicken farm.

 

Cows and sheep prefer different forage, the cows preferring the grasses and the sheep preferring the forbs or broad-leafed plants and weeds.  Although sheep love grasses as well, they will tend to eat many of the plants that the cows have left behind. 

 

Grazing the chickens in the same general area as the cows and sheep helps to keep the fly larvae down thus keeping the farm cleaner and the animals happier.  Cows and sheep don't share the same parasites so having the sheep follow the cows is a great way to keep sheep parasites down since the cows will eat the sheep larvae before the sheep get onto that area. Oh and I almost forgot the pigs!  Our pastured heritage breed pigs have been roaming freely throughout this system and are doing a great job eating some of the undesireable vegetation on the farm.

 

In the photo above you can see the lambs surrounded by electrified netting, the chicken tractors containing our poulet rouge chickens, followed by the cattle. If you have not had the opportunity to visit the farm and are interested in learning more about multi-species grazing come to one of our farm tours on the first Saturday of every month at 10am or make an appointment for a private tour.  We love to have visitors on the farm!

 

Caitlin

 

 

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