Besides the added diversity that merging livestock brings to the pasture and benefit it brings to the animals, rotational grazing itself is beneficial in several other ways. It encourages the livestock to eat all forage, even weeds, distributes manure more evenly, and keeps down the rate of soil and grass damage done by overgrazing and overtrodding.
Dr. Bev Chevallier of Harrison, Ark., has been cross-pasturing sheep and cattle since 1999. Currently she has about 50 Katahdin ewes and a herd of 30 momma cows, but has had as many as 200 sheep at one time. The biggest benefit she noted was to parasite management, “The sheep will eat the ostertagia, which affect the cattle, and the cows will eat the haemonchus, which affect the sheep. I have very few parasite problems because of it.”
Chevallier rotates the sheep behind the cows in larger pastures of 20-30 acres and moves her cattle twice a week. She added that sheep can be maintained at a ratio of eight ewes per cow, making them a productive choice for joint-grazing. She appreciates the cows for their ability to be kept in rear pastures among timber that may not be safe for the sheep. For protection Chevallier keeps two dogs with the sheep herd and keeps them in a closed lot every night. Though she does not mob graze she has used intensive pasturing in a way that she finds very beneficial.
Greg Judy, author of “Come Back Farms” and “No Risk Ranching,” encourages ranchers to “mob graze” and companion pasture. His strategy starts with managing cattle through pastures in small plots on a daily basis. His technique of daily pasture rotation allows the land to rest for at least 40 days between rotations. Judy uses this method to stockpile forage for winter grazing, so that very minimal amounts of baled hay is used. Any forage that is left on the pastures after grazing, decomposes and becomes part of what develops habitat for worms, dung beetles and other microorganisms that build up soil, thus increasing the growth of healthy pastures, “There is more life below the ground than above it,” said Judy. Though he started this concept with cattle, he has worked on encouraging the addition of other species in order to benefit the farmer, animals and pasture.
“Diversity is key, nothing in nature is single species,” Judy said about adding other livestock to the pasture rotation, including sheep, goats and pigs. Judy has maintained a large St. Croix sheep herd, “Sheep are the lowest input animal on the farm. They only need loose salt.” He appreciates the St. Croix breed because of it’s hardiness, “There is nothing easier to overwinter than a sheep.” Judy also advocates culling to remove animals that cannot thrive without deworming, “Worming isn’t sustainable, if you worm once, you worm for life.”
Though Judy has done some rotating with goats and pigs, he has had the most success with sheep. Goats require more intense fencing, and pigs take an even different approach to fence management. To handle predator issues that come with maintaining sheep, Judy prefers a mixed breed sheep dog.


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