We moved our goats onto pasture several weeks ago and this makes both of us so happy. They are ready to browse through the pastures and I’m ready to not feed them hay! This is going on our 3rd year with our goats and chickens and I’m beginning to see the subtle changes running livestock on pasture has. There are so many talks of how cows and various animals are negative on the environment and I would like to shed some light on the positive. When raised with pasture management in mind they can be very beneficial!
This picture doesn’t completely do it justice but even with not a great picture you can almost draw a line down the middle with one side being more green and the other side more brown. We ran our goats through half of this pasture last year in the late fall. Can you guess which side they grazed and which side they didn’t? The left side was grazed by our goats giving it the brighter green color. What the goats did for the pasture was eat up much of the under brush giving room for the underneath to grow up along with naturally fertilizing with urine and manure. Not only is this better for the grass and soil but eliminating much of the brown can be a way to prevent grassland fires.
Can you see the greener area in this picture?! There is a strip down the middle, slightly to the left going the length of the pasture. This was where we ran our chicken tractors last year. Chicken tractors are just a portable way to move chickens around the farm. It’s not really a tractor at all, more of a shelter. We move them every day, giving them fresh grass. You can see our grass loved the high in nitrogen manure they left behind!
Our hopes with continuing this type of pasture management is to build the soil which acts as a carbon absorber, decreasing our carbon footprint. More soil can also absorb more water and with healthier grass/plant matter I can only assume this makes for more nutritious grass! Building soil and not disturbing the microbes, is an important tool when practicing a no till garden…these same ideas of building soil are used with regenerative livestock farming as well.