The best pasture seed for livestock and the advantages thereof.
Agriculture has come a long way over the years. Modern farming practices use technology to make planting and tending to crops and livestock more efficient.
These advances in technology extend beyond just the method of farming though. Let’s dive into what makes the best pasture seed for your livestock.
What to Know About Pasture Seed
Knowing what to sow in your pastures is one of the most critical components of raising pasture-fed livestock. It’s not simply matching the animal to the seed. Rather, seeding variables like rainfall, seeding method, soil type, and vegetation cover all affect what should be considered and planted.
In addition to that, the quality of the seeds is extremely important. This affects not only how much of the pasture will germinate, but also how the plants affect your livestock. Many seed bags are filled with inert matter and filler seed species, so you’re left questioning what your livestock is actually eating. Knowing you have quality seed, like that from Nature’s Seed, ensures you know exactly what your livestock is getting.
Any seed blends should also be analyzed for the nutrient mix they will give to your animals. Working with only a single species will leave your herds and flocks deficient in some nutrients, as well as depleting the soil. A good blend will balance the various needs of your animals along with keeping the soil rich.
Here’s what we recommend pasture seeding for various animal herds.
Pasture grass blends are the best option for both dairy and beef cattle. These grasses need to be customized based on regional rainfall, sun tolerance, resistance to disease and more.
These blends should also contain some species, like legumes, to help fertilize the field while also providing nutrition for the cattle.
Horses have a more sensitive digestive system than other pasture animals. Horses that get into the wrong grasses or other pasture plants can have severe consequences, like laminitis.
In addition to the nutritional necessities, horses are very particular about not grazing near where they defecate. Further, they are particular to the most palatable plants. This results in pastures being overgrazed in many sections if the pasture is not seeded properly.
The best blends for your horse pastures will look at the regional needs, as well as the preference of your horses to ensure proper nutrition without overgrazing.
Sheep need to be able to eat as much as possible every day to aid them in reaching their optimum finishing weight. This is why many herders prefer to allow sheep to graze freely. However, getting the right forage is important for many reasons.
Sheep need a blend of grasses, legumes, and forbs to meet their nutrition and digestive needs. One concern of all herdsmen is having issues with internal parasites. Adding Birdsfoot trefoil and chicory into your seed blend has shown to be beneficial for helping reduce these parasites.
Goats have different anatomy than most other grazing animals. This allows them to eat plants that are more shrub-like than pasture grasses. Goats also prefer more variety in their diet than do most other grazing animals. This makes developing a quality blend for them more difficult.
A quality blend attends to the regional conditions in addition to these unique needs. In a goat seed blend, there should be forbs to help reduce internal parasite, legumes for protein and field fertilization, as well as pasture grasses.
More people continue to look to free-range chickens, both in terms of consumer demand as well as farming. This creates a unique need for pasture, being grass has little nutritional value. In addition to the lack of nutrition, fast-growing cover can be dangerous to poultry, providing ample place for predators to hide.
The best blends for poultry include a blend of legumes and forbs. These plants should have high seed yield, as well as attract insects. This creates a highly favorable environment for poultry to thrive. You may also look at adding flax in the pasture mix as this helps increase the concentration of Omega-3 fatty acid found in the egg yolks.
The demand for bison meat continues to grow due to its better nutritional profile compared to beef. To help maintain the quality of the end product, care must be taken when it comes to the pasture content for these once bountiful animals.
Unlike most other grazing animals, bison have a much higher tolerance for alfalfa. A well-balanced blend will include this in addition to a regionally-appropriate range of pasture grasses. This additional alfalfa provides extra protein and nutrients along with being a natural fertilizer.
Llama and Alpaca Pastures
Llamas and alpacas are native to South America but are very popular in the United States. Despite their evergrowing popularity, they aren’t in their native environment here in North America, so special care needs to be given to the pasture and what they have to eat.
Llamas and alpacas have very efficient digestive systems, so a grass diet is usually sufficient. Due to their mouth and grazing style, the best grasses for them are soft, leafy grasses that are shorter and denser. If you are lactating animals, you might include a very low concentration of clover or red clover as well.
Choose the Best Pasture Seed for Your Herd
At the end of the day, you should always choose the pasture seed that best fits your herd’s needs. There are endless seed blends available for you to choose from, so take time to research and learn more about them before getting ready to sow for the season.