WHY CO-GRAZ­ING SHEEP AND CAT­TLE CAN BE A MAR­RIAGE MADE IN HEAVEN

Country Smallholding - - Ask The Experts -

QWe are think­ing of in­tro­duc­ing sheep to our hold­ing, where we al­ready have four Aberdeen An­gus cat­tle. Is it OK to graze sheep and cat­tle to­gether? Are there any dis­eases that can spread be­tween cat­tle and sheep?

AChar­lotte Mouland says: Sheep and cat­tle can com­ple­ment each other quite nicely on a small­hold­ing and if there is enough graz­ing avail­able to in­tro­duce a pad­dock ro­ta­tion sys­tem, this would be ideal. Sheep and cat­tle har­bour dif­fer­ent species of gut worms so can ‘hoover up’ some of each other’s par­a­sites quite ef­fec­tively.

Co-graz­ing sheep and cat­tle is gen­er­ally not a prob­lem, but they do have dif­fer­ent graz­ing pref­er­ences. Sheep pre­fer to nib­ble on shorter sward lengths, ideally 8-10cm, whereas cat­tle need to wrap their tongues around the grass stems and so pre­fer longer swards, more like 12-15cm. There are some dis­eases that can be spread from cat­tle and sheep, in­clud­ing Johnes, BVD, Lep­tospiro­sis and Ma­lig­nant Catarrhal Fever, and there­fore hav­ing a ro­ta­tional graz­ing sys­tem may help to re­duce the risk of trans­mit­ting th­ese dis­eases. Chat to your vet for more in­for­ma­tion on this.

Cat­tle and sheep have dif­fer­ent graz­ing pref­er­ences

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