pasture for sheep, cows and goats : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) Preparation Forum : One Thread

I would like to know how many acres of pasture each of these animals would need, sheep, dairy cows, and goats.

It would seem logical that this would depend upon the condition of the pasture, how much rain you got, and other variables. So I know this is not going to be precise. But just in general, on average, to get an idea how much land for pasture would be needed.

Thanks in advance for all your help on this forum.


-- Lora Ereshan (, July 25, 1999


My neighbor keeps about 80 sheep. In normal times these graze on roughly 20 to 25 acres, sharing some with 3 horses, and the pasture will last from spring until fall. This year (exceptionally dry early on, very poor grass growth) he's had to resort to feeding hay already.

Other neighbors have sold many cows because the drought is limiting pasture.

Whatever number you decide on, make certain you either have access to hay, or that you have a great safety margin in normal times, or that you're ready to butcher in bad summers.

-- de (, July 26, 1999.

Here in the midwest (Iowa) where there is very good pasture it takes 1 acre of pasture per cow/calf combination or horse/foal. We have about 10 sheep and goats per acre. In Arizona it takes 10 times as much land. I think that probably covers the 2 extremes for pasture in this country.

We have pushed our pasture - meaning we put more animals than we should have and been ok, but you can't do that year after year and of course the weather plays a big part in that. Last year was a good year for the weather and we had 14 cows and horses on 10 acres with no problem and didn't ruin the pasture. Right now it is getting dry and we have only 7 animals on the same 10 acre pasture. We have more pasture available to us and move animals around accordingly.

-- Beckie (, July 26, 1999.

Remember, goats like to eat browse (shrubby stuff). Grass is WAY down on their list of favorite foods.

-- Jon Williamson (, July 26, 1999.

If you're thinking about starting with animals, start small. Get a few and it will become clear to you how many more animals your own space will support. The advice above about hay is well taken. We have gotten a scant few inches of rain since May where I am in upstate NY, and are giving some of our winter hay to the ponies. We bought a solar fence charger and batteries so we could move our sheep farther from the barn. We try to fence our sheep so that they can get in the barn in the heat of the day, or pouring rain. With the animals so far away from the barn now, we have taken to driving our old dump truck and a trailer that has a chicken house built on it into their pasture. They can take shelter under these from the blazing sun or the rain. We heard of someone who fitted an old junker car with plywood 'wings' to provide shelter for pastured animals.

Alll this brings up a couple more issues with keeping animals. Good fencing is an absolute must, to keep the animals from wandering off, and to keep predators out, and it is not cheap. Another good reason to start small. The other is adequate protection. Animals out in the hot sun can get overheated and are bothered by flies. A third issue is water. We put water lines to the barn this spring, and so are liberated from hauling buckets of water from near the house, to the barn. The more animals, the more hauling of water is needed, especially with the hot dry summer we are having. My husband is hauling water to the sheep using the tractor and cart with buckets of water loaded on back. If we lose power, either now or next year, hand pumping and hauling buckets of water is going to be an awful lot of work.

One more piece of advice about starting with animals. Get a good book on caring for the animal you want, and have someone you can call with questions. It's no fun to have one of your animals die because you didn'tknow. It's going to happen, but the more you know and the more help you can get, the less likely it will be.

Sorry for the tangents. Hope it helps.

Bingo, who's doing a rain dance every day. (It'll work one of these days!)

-- Bingo (, July 26, 1999.

I have two sheep that are doing very well.

On each acre you can place 6 sheep and 2 head of cattle. I'm not sure about goats.

You can also run cattle and sheep together. Simply reduce the number of sheep per acre or suppliment with hay.

Whatever you raise, get at least two of each or your animals won't be happy.

Sheep are very easy to raise. Start with sheep and then diversify.

I paid $80 each in May for my two lambs and plan to slaughter them in late October. I expect to get 70-80 lbs. of meat from each lamb.

-- walt (, July 26, 1999.

It depends- would suggest you confer with your county extension agent for local info- very much depends on your weather, rainfall, season length, type of pasture, condition, etc- also- goats will eat pasture but prefer to browse on trees, shrubs, etc-

-- farmer (, July 26, 1999.

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