The Advantage of Raising a “Flerd”

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Goats run in herds. Sheep run in flocks. Cattle run in herds. What do you get when you run them all together? You get a “flerd.” We don’t have enough land to keep them separate, but even if we did, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to. Pasturing mixed species has its advantages.

First of all: each species has its favorite forage. Some eat a given plant. Some barely eat it. Some adore it. When you keep multiple species together, on the same pasture, they tend to keep the flora more balanced.

Cattle are like huge bovine vacuum cleaners…

Secondly, there are species specific parasites, meaning: some parasites only affect a given species of animals. When you keep multiple species of ruminants on the same pasture, this often helps control parasites. For instance, I’ve heard heard cattle described as “huge biological vacuum cleaners, which inhale parasites which are harmful to sheep and goats, and destroy them in their own digestive track.”

Sheep tend to graze close to the ground (closer than goats or cattle). Cattle are kind of mid range.  Goats prefer to browse higher and eat more twigs. I have never figured out how our goats can do it, but they ADORE blackberry plants and other brambles.

Finally, a “flerd” is beautiful! We love to look out over our pasture, in the cool of the evening, and watch the animals graze peacefully together.

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