Medicinal Pastures for Livestock
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Paul Lawler
Posted on: March 10, 2006

I am interested in developing medicinal pastures for my livestock to counter act worms and other parasites. Garlic, fennel, mugwort, hyssop, thyme, wild basil, comfrey, tansy, rosemary, nettle and mustard to name a few. Do you have experience with this concept and can you help me? I have meat goats, angus cattle and will soon have sheep grazing 60 acres of pasture.

I do not have any experience with this concept, but think the idea is great.

Since I have kept goats for many years, I know that they will try to eat many different plants and as long as you plant a variety they will be sure to like some and thus medicate themselves. Of the plants you mentioned I am sure they will eat garlic, thyme, comfrey, rosemary and mustard. Sheep that strayed onto our land from neighbors seemed less picky than goats, while cattle we have kept seemed more picky.

I do know that you should graze your goats on pasture that is more than 4 to 6 inches in height to avoid them picking up parasites. The parasites tend to stay lower down on the leaves and stems of the plants. Goats are not very resistant to cattle and sheep parasites, so my strategy with this set up would be to graze the goats first on any new pasture, then the sheep and finally the cattle. This would be more effective in climates that have a cold winter (lots of parasite die-off on the pasture). I believe that the minimum time that the pasture should rest between the final grazing (with cows) to when you can re-introduce goats would be 3 weeks (but best if you either wait until next season or wait until the grass has recovered to 6 inches). Also 1 to 2% diatomaceous earth added to the feed will cut down on parasites.

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