Integrating crops and livestock
Level of Expertise: Introductory/Overview,
Whether you have your own livestock or can partner with a neighbor who does, you may find it profitable to set up grazing on some of your crop fields. Most often, this involves grazing cover crops in late fall and/or early spring. Some of the “cereal grain” type cover crops such as cereal rye, triticale, or winter wheat work particularly well for grazing. Some farmers will use other cover crop species such as turnips in the fall or winter canola, while other farmers have found cover crop mixes to be helpful. A popular approach for summer and early fall grazing is to harvest a winter or spring cereal crop for grain then plant a diverse summer “cover crop cocktail” that will typically include a high biomass warm season annual grass like sorghum sudangrass or pearl millet along with other grasses, legumes, and brassicas. Grazing cover crops also makes it easier to graze buffer strips or other conservation plantings.