Herbal Pasture Grass for Meadows, Livestock and Organic Farming

Herbal pasture grass means healthy livestock and increased profits. Many farmers who have livestock put them out on monoculture grass pastures and supplement their feed. We often end up with them having health problems, often diet-related, worm issues and the like.

But with herbal pasture grass you have medicinal plants and some of the best pastures that will give your livestock a daily boost and will also help to keep the internal parasites and worms down as well. The following are ideal for planting if you are an organic farmer wanting to provide the best possible pasture grass for your livestock.

Perennial rye grass, cocks foot, timothy grass and meadow fescue make up most of the mix, followed by tall fescue, red, white, sweet and alsike clovers, bull birdsfoot trefoil, sainfoin, chicory, burnet forage herb, yarrow forage herb, sheep’s parsley forage herb and rib grass forage herb.

When you raise livestock your main expenses are in fertilizer, feed and vet bills. By planting a good herbal ley as pasture grass you manage to eradicate the need for fertilizer as the plants themselves put back goodness into the soil in the form of nitrogen as many of the above are nitrogen fixing plants.

You also provide feed for most of the year round, and the high quality of pasture given to your livestock will improve their health, including the propensity to get worms, as long as you manage the herbal ley just as you would other pasture grass with rotational use.

Pasture Grass for Organically Farmed Livestock

Before you even stock your property with livestock you will need to think about fencing and the type of grass you want to plant for the type of cattle or livestock you are raising. You will also need to think of your climate and which grasses will do well in your area.

Timothy Grass for Pastures

Timothy grass is indigenous to the United States and does really well in most soils, except for those that are very wet, or too dry and sandy. It does best on rich clay and clay loam soils.

Timothy grass is a perennial that is easy to grow, is hardy once established,  and will easily produce 1 1/2 - 2 tons of hay, per acre, in a single cutting.

You can either sow your Timothy grass seed in late August, early September or in the spring.

For an acre of good fine soil you can use 12 quarts of seed per acre.  However, if you have a very stiff clay soil you will need to plant 24 quarts of seed per acre.

Smooth Stalked Meadow Pasture Grass

Meadow grass is another pasture grass that makes excellent hay and is well liked by any livestock that you may have in these pastures.  There are 2 types of meadow grass:

1) The Smooth Stalked Meadow Grass
2) The Rough Stalked Meadow Grass

Again this is an indigenous grass that grows about everywhere in the United States and is particularly good on rich, fertile soils. Both types are perennials that sets seeds in June and will self-seed readily during the rains.

Although the rough stalked meadow grass looks identical to the smooth, it is distinguised by its rough stalk to the touch. This pasture grass like a soil that is wet, therefore a heavy clay soil is ideal.

Fescue Pasture Grass

Fescue grass is an excellent pasture grass that is highly nutritious, especially when cut during flower, more so than any other pasture grass whether cut during flowering or in seed.

There are several types of fescue grass, each of which is as good as the other:
  • meadow fescue 
  • purple fescue
  • spiked fescue
  • floating fescue

Cock's Foot Pasture Grass

Cock' s Foot grass, also known as orchard grass is an excellent pasture grass where there is a lot of shade. By cutting each time, before it is ripe, you will be able to get 3-4 cuts per season.

Sew 20-30 pounds of seed per acre. It is a fairly hardy grass, found across the United States from south to north and so will grow in any climate.

Rye Grass for Pasture

Rye Grass is a tonic for your livestock. It is excellent for making sure that your livestock don’t become fat and overweight. This is because it is high in nutrients but low on carbohydrates. Any livestock that does get overweight, particularly in the winter, will result in difficult births.

Tall Oat Grass for Pasture

Tall oat grass is an early grass that also makes good hay. It prefers loamy or clay soils and can grow to a height of 4-5 feet on good soils.

So what Medical Properties does Herbal Pasture Grass have?

In addition to any of the above pasture grass types we should also think about interseeding it with beneficial herbal plants in order to treat your sheep medicinally for the prevention and treatment of livestock ailments. Such a pasture grass is higly beneficial for both the livestock and the farmer and doesn't involve any more work than seeding the orginal pasture.

So, what herbal plants should be included to create a pasture grass that your ancestors used on their livestock?

Sheep's Parsley

a close-up view of sheep's parsleySheeps Parsley is very valuable as a medicinal plant. It is from the parsley family which is hardy and easy to grow.

It is highly mineral-rich, high in iron and Vitamin C and extremely good for kidney and bladder complaints.

Sheeps Parsley is a plant that should be widely planted if your livestock have breeding problems as it is helpful with female reproductive disorders.

The Clovers for Pastures

The clovers and not grasses, but rather legumes.  After maturity the roots rot, putting goodness back into the soil and it is also a very good nitrogen fixing plant. Such is the value of this that any following crop needs no additional nitrogen, nor will any crops need additional nitrogen for several years when planted in areas where clover has grown.
Sweet clover improves poor soil as it develops a good rooting system with a thick tap root that opens up the subsoil, letting in the air, and helping earthworm and other aerobic bacterial activity. 

It is loved by livestock and is a tonic plant and a blood-cleansing herb. However, if you put your livestock in a field of just clover they will develop bloat. When you mix clover in a meadow ley with other plants that are bloat-safe such as sainfoin, vetch, birdsfoot trefoil, and perennial grasses.

Sheep's Burnet

and example of salad burnet
Sheep's Burnet
, often called Salad Burnet as people eat it too, is another fodder herb and an excellent addition to your pasture grass. Both sheep and cattle love this herb and it is excellent for preventing soil erosion.

It is a fast establishing perennial for summer feed and it also withstands cold winters and performs well in dry, low fertility areas. 


a chicory flowerChicory is sought out by livestock and is quickly recognized by its lovely blue-mauve flowers. It is a good plant if you live in areas where you don’t get a lot of rain as it has a deep tap root that seeks out moisture far below the soil line.

Sheep and cattle love it, and it is good for milk production. If sheep get enough chicory they fatten up a lot quicker and it is also a great herb for helping with liver issues and jaundice.

This plant has a high nutritive value (high metabolisable energy), highly digestible, and is high in minerals such as calcium, sulfur, potassium, sodium, boron and zinc and gives high stock performance and appears to be unpalatable to rabbits and hares.

Chicory grows well in summer and on dairy farms supplies a continuous summer feed and due to the protein content will maintain milk production and milk protein content.

There are some disadvantages of chicory and therefore there should be a good balance of other herbs in your herbal pasture grass. As chicory can grow rapidly stock can be poisoned by nitrate/nitrite and there have been instances of bloat. Milk taint is another potential problem and if grazing pure crops then graze for only 2 hours after the morning milking (only if the crop is safe from nitrate). Lambs are also prone to pulpy kidney.


a sainfoin plant in a grass meadowSainfoin means ‘healthy hay’ – is an almost forgotten traditional fodder legume that used to be widely grown throughout Europe before the use of commercial fertilizers, and fed particularly to working horses.

The feed has a very high voluntary intake by cattle, sheep and horses and is believed to contain unique nutritional properties that help with keeping parasites in check. Being a legume it puts back nutrients back into the soil and performs well under drought.

Bull Birdsfoot Trefoil

Bull Birdsfoot Trefoil is a non-bloating legume that tolerates poor drainage almost as well as alsike clover, and is also tolerant of lower pH levels than most legumes. It tolerates grazing pressure well, but should be occasionally reseeded to maintain a stand indefinitely. Again, as a legume it is a nitrogen fixing plant, and is a favorite with butterflies and good bee food.

This plant contains condensed tannins, which prevent bloat in ruminants and also protect forage proteins from degradation to ammonia gas in the rumen so there is better amino acid digestion and greater growth rates for ruminants if you add this to your pasture grass.

This plant is very acceptable to all livestock types and deer especially so. It also makes excellent quality hay.


Yarrow is particularly good to add in pasture grass for sheep and deer who love this herb. It is a great tonic food. However, it is not good for cattle. Also make sure that you have identified this herb if you are collecting it from the wild so that you don’t mistake it for its cousin, hemlock, which is toxic and very similar in looks.


Monoculture of a particular pasture grass is not how nature seeds empty fields. Do not see these plants as weeds that you need to get rid of. Know the value of the plants that already exist, and then add the above to your pastures to enrich your soil.

Bring back nature to your fields and replant it with pasture grass as nature intended with medicinal herbs and plants that will not only keep the worms at bay, but will also give your livestock better health and increase their weight without those dreaded hormones.

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