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Managing your pasture

Plant a healthy pasture your animals will enjoy.

Starting your Pasture

A pasture is more than just a piece of land. Your animals get their nutrients from the green grasses that grow in this space. So if you start to see weeds or overgrown areas, it may be time to reseed your pasture or to graze your animals differently.

Pasture management takes a lot of hard work. Following are some problems you may encounter and tips on how to solve those challenges.

Planting your pasture

During the early stages of planning a pasture, you need to decide what animals you will have grazing on it. That's because different animals need different food.

Ellen Phillips, a crop systems educator with the University of Illinois Extension, recommends mixing forages. "A combination of alfalfa and smooth brome, or alfalfa and orchard grass works adequately for some animals," she says.

Your choice of plants will also depend on your climate. Plants that survive with little water may not be very appetizing for your animals. But if you live in an area that doesn't get much water, those types of plants may be your only option. If you live somewhere that gets an abundance of moisture, pick plants that tolerate standing water.

Do a soil test

No matter what plants you choose, they won't thrive if the soil lacks nutrients. Sending a soil sample to a lab can tell you what nutrient levels are present.

"You want to take samples in the fall and then follow the recommendations that come from the lab as far as how much fertilizer needs to be added," Phillips says. "That can be organic fertilizer or your regular chemical fertilizers."

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