Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
Our goat yard is in the shape of an L. This fall, while the chickens were still living with the goats, we had decided to fence off the leg and seed it with pasture seed. I wasn't sure if we should seed it for the chickens or for the goats. After doing some research we ended up going with a dairy pasture seed which was safe for both the goats and the chickens.
The dairy pasture seed is made up of orchardgrass and various rye grasses and clovers. It's high in protein, stimulates milk production, and recovers quickly, which is important on such a small area. The plan was to just allow the animals on it for short periods of time as a supplement to their normal diet. They would be able to mow the grass and then we would allow it to replenish
In addition, I also purchased more alfalfa and orchardgrass seed for the orchard area. Last year we planted some to see how it would do. Overall we were happy with it because it didn't require supplemental irrigation and it's perennial. This time, though, I went with Paiute Orchardgrass because it's better adapted to heavier soils like ours and thrives with less water than the standard orchardgrass.
To plant the pasture grass we loosened up the soil and hand seeded the area. We then took pieces of plywood, systematically put them down and walked on them to help tamp down the seed so that there was good seed to soil contact. We then gently watered the area.
After our much overdue rains recently our seeded area took off. Up until then I had been having to hand water it once a week to keep it alive. The majority of the grass had gotten about a foot high so tonight I decided to let the girls have a little treat. Not too much because I didn't want to upset their rumen with this new forage.
Sedona, our country girl who used to live on pasture knew exactly what to do. She almost immediately started chowing down. Bella and Daisy, our two ghetto goats, took a bit longer to warm up to the idea. Daisy, who is now buddies with Sedona, was more willing to follow Sedona's lead than Bella was, but eventually even Bella started grazing a bit.
The didn't get to spend too much time on the grass as we had to get milking, but I was happy to see that they did like the fresh forage.