by Brent Roeder, MSU Sheep and Wool Specialist



  • More efficiently use land or labor resources
  • Add an enterprise to diversify risk or season of cash flow
  • Generate more total gross revenue
  • Synergistic effects on predation or weeds

 Species: Cattle, Horses, Wool Sheep, Hair Sheep, Meat Goats-Milk cross, Hair Goats-Angora/Cashmere, Exotics


Grazing Systems

  • Merrill
  • Two Herd Year Around
  • Seasonal Prescriptive
  • Multispecies One Herd-Flerd



  • Fence cattle and let sheep/goats roam. They will all end up at your neighbors. Net/page wire or electric or at least 5 strand barb.
  • Sheep/goats require a cutting chute.
  • Cattle water troughs are lamb killers.
  • Cattle water in small groups and use 5 to 20 gallons/head/day so volume is more important than surface area. So, 200 head might consume 2,000 gallons over 24 hours.
  • Sheep/goats water in a group and consume about 1 to 2 gallons/head/day. So, 500 head might try and consume 1,000 gallons in 15 minutes and lambs get crushed or drown.
  • Sheep and horses can winter on snow. 


Species Differences

  • Cattle and horses have the most similar diets, but most different way of eating.
  • Sheep similar to cattle and horse diets. Can add one sheep per cow w/o cutting cows numbers.
  • Goats have the least dietary overlap of the other three species depending on breed and forage availability. Note: if all you have is level irrigated grass, they are all going to eat grass.
  • Sheep and goats will always go high, while cattle will generally go low.
  • Sheep use slopes up to 45%, while cattle avoid areas over 10%. Goats love rocks.
  • Need diversity in terrain and range type (shrub/forb/grass) to fully utilize multispecies grazing.
  • Cattle prefer tall grass, sheep prefer short grass and forbs, goats prefer browse and forbs.
  • Contrary to popular belief, the ranking for the highest percentage of crude protein in the diet by species is goats/sheep/cattle/horses.



  • With expanding range of large predators like wolves and grizzlies, ranchers in some areas are losing huge numbers of calves.
  • All livestock producers need to study and start implementing some type of predator mitigation strategy.



  • It’s not easy or everyone would be doing it.
  • Choosing the proper species, proper bonding, managing predators and timing production schedules are keys to success.
  • Start small with young stock and work your way into it slowly.
  • Make sure you are matching the right species to take advantage of your terrain and forages.
  • Watch bighorn proximity.