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Multispecies grazing refers to grazing by two or more species of grazing animals on the same land unit, not necessarily at the same time, but within the same grazing season. Multispecies grazing provides a great opportunity for optimizing use of plant species on a pasture, as different livestock species prefer different plants. This maximizes forage utilization, translating into higher animal production rates per acre, lower costs of production and better returns for producers.
Some grazing strategies that are used with multispecies grazing are:
In all systems, the Grassfarmer must monitor forage utilization and allow sufficient rest for the grazed plant to regrow and replenish the stored nutrients.
Livestock production is higher when species, such as cattle and sheep graze together. This is due to the increased carrying capacity of the land and increased individual animal performance.
By diversifying the species you run on pasture, you can effectively buffer your bank account. Different species' have different price cycles. So, the price cycle of the one species may offset the highs and lows of the other species' price cycle. Another option for small farmers may be to add pastured poultry to the operation as it is easily direct-marketed for top prices.
Pairing sheep with goats may pose a parasite problem. Sheep and goats are affected by the same internal parasites.
The primary objective of multispecies grazing is to improve the grazing efficiency or utilization of available range resources, while maintaining or improving animal production. Multispecies grazing can provide economic and ecological advantages over single-species grazing due to differences in dietary preferences and foraging behaviour of the animals. A well-managed multispecies grazing program that is in harmony with the environment will slow and eventually prevent weed spread, enabling native grasses to reestablish, proliferate and ultimately contribute to increased carrying capacity on your land.