When I was new to homesteading, I thought you just put up fences, stuck your animal in the pasture and left them there all year. However, there are a lot of reasons you should NOT do that! Rotational grazing or subdividing larger pastures into smaller paddocks and moving the livestock from one to another every week or two has lots of benefits.
- It’s healthier for the pasture. If you leave animals on a piece of land for too long, they’ll eat down some of the grass to the dirt while other areas will be ignored and the grass will grow too tall to be palatable.
- It saves money for the farmer or homesteader. If you are better managing the pasture, you will ultimately be able to let the animals harvest their own dinner for a longer period of time. This year, we went all the way into December before we had to start feeding hay to our sheep because we kept moving them to new areas.
- It’s healthier for the animals because they are leaving their poop behind them in the old pastures. This reduces parasite loads because by the time the worm eggs in the poop hatch, the livestock have moved on, so they are not around to ingest new larvae on the pasture. Over the course of a few weeks, the larvae dry up and die without a host.
- It’s healthier for the humans eating the meat and drinking the milk. Grassfed meat and milk have higher levels of healthy omega-3 and lower levels of not-so-healthy omega-6. It also has 3-5 times more conjugated linoleic acid, which is another healthy fat.
To learn more about incorporating rotational grazing on your farm or homestead, check out our previous post on the topic.