Grazing Groups

by Katie
(Price, Utah)

I am planning on raising dairy goats, Dexter cattle, pigs, and chickens, and I would like the animals to all be as 'free range' as possible. I would like to know what the best animal rotation would be. I know goats and cows can graze together and tend to eat different foliage and won't give each other the same worms ect and that chickens will eat the worms out of the manure of both animals. Can all animals graze together? Will the cows boss the goats around to assert a 'pecking order'? And where exactly can the pigs fit in?

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Jul 14, 2010
Grazing Groups and Keeping Farm Animals Together
by: Countryfarm Lifestyles

You are asking if you can keep chickens, goats, cattle and pigs together. What you didn't say was how big your property was, what type of pasture you have or how many animals of each you wish to raise.

With regards to goats and cattle, goats are foragers/browsers while cattle are grazers. Goats prefer eating tops of shrubs and leaves off trees, twigs and vines. If you have that sort of vegetation available to these two groups of animals, then you can put them together. You will also find that your goats will keep the weeds down that normally would have to be dealt with in other ways. "Leafy spurge" is one such weed that is controlled naturally when goats are pastured with cattle.

The other advantage, which you have already mentioned is that goats and cattle work symbiotically whereby both benefit from reduced worm infections when run together. Having chickens with your goats and cattle can only be an added advantage from this aspect.

One thing I should mention is that if you are thinking of selling your goats' milk and getting a certificate if you run your goats with the chickens there will probably be a problem with the authorities as poultry carry a form of TB that is not harmful to the birds or humans but it will show up in the milk when tested.

Now the pigs. If you have 20 finisher pigs at 200lbs you are looking at an acre of good pasture just for them. The more land you give them the better they are with regards to rooting habits. Pigs will root, especially in the spring, where they will turn your fields up for you and are a great substitute for a tractor! But the smaller the piece of land they are put on the more they will root - any time of year.

But this is not the only reason why I would keep the pigs separate although I do know of people who run cattle and pigs together. However, when heifers are about to calve if the calf is slow in being born the pig could end up eating it. They could also end up eating the kids and have been known to kill chickens. Also pigs are very smart animals and have been known to suckle from the lactating cows.

Another way of doing things would be to divide your farm into paddocks and run the cattle on the first paddock followed by the goats, and then the pigs.

Perhaps others would like to add to this topic and tell us what they think.

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