From the very beginning we decided to use a pasture based system for our farm. Instead of cleaning out barn stalls, we let the animals fertilize our fields. They browse and eat grass which saves money on the feed bill, as well as saving us the work of not having to bring food to them every day. Exercise is part of their daily routine, which has a part in keeping them healthy.
We like cutting down on our work load, so it just made sense to us to set up a pasture based system.
Another reason was grass fed meat. Part of living here was that we wanted to raise our own food. After some study, the decision was made that the meat we raise for our table would be grass fed, with little grain. There is also a market for those looking for healthier meat choices and many are looking for grass fed beef and lamb.
5 Things to consider when setting up a pasture based system:
An expense that is well worth the money and a must if you are raising animals on grass. There are several types of fencing options for different types of livestock. We opted for Electric Fencing which works well for sheep. We have a permanent exterior electric fence as well as portable electric fencing that we can move where needed.
When you raise animals on grass, you are going to deal with internal/external parasites. Rotating pastures can help with the problem, but they do not eliminate them. Learning about parasite control is a good idea if you are thinking of a pasture based system.
Animal to Grass Ratio
You do not want to overload your pastures with too many animals. Keeping the right number of animals is important. The type of pastures you have, the area you live in, and what kind of livestock you keep will all need to be considered.
Water and Minerals
We have to provide our livestock with fresh water, salt and minerals. We make sure they have access to all three. We have several water pumps around the farm, so we are able to use hoses to fill up their water containers.
ShelterIt doesn't necessarily have to be a barn but you should have areas of shade and windbreak. We have trees in our pasture which provide much needed shade in the hot summer months, we also have areas where the sheep can find wind break from the cold. Portable shelters are also an option.
We have never regretted the decision to kick the animals out of the barn and put them out on pasture.