Monday, December 29, 2008

Grazing or Grain vs. Grass

*Feed costs are going up and land is harder to find, but sheep and goats can graze land that is too rocky or hilly to plow for growing corn and other crops. This kind of land is usually cheaper to rent (or buy) per acre than other land.

*Sheep and goats that are grazed generally have cleaner wool/mohair than animals in feed lots.

*Grass fed meat and milk have a better Omega 3 ratio (grain fed has a high level of Omega 6) so the meat and milk (and eggs from pastured chickens) are healthier.

*Animals that are grazed last/live longer. Ex: I worked at a conventional dairy farm that kept the cows in a free stall barn and fed a lot of corn/cottonseed/silage. These cows only lasted 4-5 years and the farmer had to keep all heifer calves and even had to buy some replacement cows/heifers in. A lot of the cows limped,had udder rot, mastitis,DAs or some health problem.

The other farm I worked at was an organic, grazing dairy farm. The cows ate grass in the summer and barley/wheat mix along with minerals. In the winter they lived in an open type barn bedded with straw and ate hay/haylage and the same grain mix. The cow lasted 7-10 years. The farmer also sold 40-50% of the heifers born. The cows on the organic dairy farm did not limp, and there were very few mastitis cases. The cows over all were healthier and actually did not smell a bad!

*White sheep fed a high level of grain will get a yellow cast to their fleece that does not wash out.


  1. I use a bit of grain as "halters," to bring my sheep to pasture and fold easily. But I do have one "hard keeper." I feel I should supplement her (her previous owner did); do you have any suggestions that would help keep her weight up without giving her too much grain?

  2. You could try barley/oats (small grains are supposed to be better) You could also try alfalfa pellets or really rich alfalfa hay. Sheep will also eat nuts, but that is probably too expensive. Good luck with her.