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Multispecies Grazing: Benefits of Sheep Integration on Rangelands

Updated December 19, 2022
Professional headshot of Jaelyn Quintana

Jaelyn Whaley

SDSU Extension Sheep Field Specialist

Written collaboratively by Jaelyn Whaley and Jessalyn Bachler, former SDSU Extension Range Field Specialist.

Diversifying your operation can benefit both your rangeland and your pocketbook! Raising sheep and cattle on the same pastures can improve cash flow and increase revenue per acre. Producing livestock on rangeland is the most economical way to provide feed as grazing costs 1/3 of the price of purchased feed. With adequate forage availability and proper stocking rates, grazing both sheep and cattle can increase biodiversity and pasture utilization. When initially getting into multispecies grazing, a stocking rate of one ewe per cow is recommended to help avoid overgrazing. Sheep can also be used to target unwanted weeds such as leafy spurge and spotted knapweed as they tend to prefer more forb species than cattle. Before expanding an operation with another livestock species, available grazing forage inventories and plant species composition should be accounted for throughout the year to ensure adequate forage will be able for both species.