How I can feed mineral to both cattle and sheep grazing in the same paddocks?
Answer: Cattle mineral contains copper, which is extremely toxic to sheep. It builds up in the liver and is fatal. I have heard of cases where sheep have died as soon as one week after consuming cattle mineral. Although there are definite benefits to multi-species grazing, mineral feeding is a serious management consideration when grazing both sheep and cattle on the same pasture.To alleviate any problems with the copper uptake of the sheep, there are three options you could consider:1. Build a feeder that will not let the sheep eat the cow’s mineral and vice versa. You could keep the cows out of the sheep feeder with the use of feeding bars placed too narrow for the cow to access the feeder. You might be able to keep the sheep from eating the cow’s mineral by elevating the cow mineral feeder. I would build the feeder a minimum of 30 inches high and place the bowl back two feet from the front of the feeder, with solid sides surrounding the feeder. Be sure to eliminate any means by which the sheep could access the feeder by climbing.2. Feed sheep mineral to both the cows and the sheep. Cattle require copper, especially during the last trimester of gestation. If your cows calf in the spring, you could separate them from the sheep during the last three or four months of gestation in the winter.3. Utilize a cafeteria-style mineral feeder. Nearly all of your parasite infection will be due to the Barber Pole Worm. It is widespread throughout the United States. There are three main grazing strategies that can be used to effectively control the Barber Pole parasite in the northern U.S.:1. Use a 35-day pasture rest period. This will enable you to graze your paddocks at the low points of the Barber Pole Worm populations. In contrast, 20 to 22 days is when populations are peaking.2. Exit the paddock with a minimum six-inch residual height of grass. The majority of infective worm larvae are located on the first two to three inches of the plant stems. By not grazing down this low, you effectively reduce ingestion. If you have a large land base with respect to your animal numbers, I would recommend grazing about 30% of any paddock and trampling 70%. You have plenty of grass, and this practice will build greatly increase your soil health. If you do add animals later, this increased soil heath will allow pasture production to accommodate them.3. Maintain a paddock grazing period of less than four days. The Barber Pole Worm infective larvae takes four days to migrate from the manure pellet to its perch two to three inches up from the ground on the grass leaf.The ATTRA publication Tools for Managing Internal Parasites in Small Ruminants: Pasture Management goes into this topic in more depth. It is available at https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/summaries/summary.php?pub=415. I also recommend the Small Ruminant Toolbox Flash Drive, a comprehensive reference for small ruminants. For more information on its contents and to order, see https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/summaries/summary.php?pub=467.If you are interested in a concise tip sheet that discusses implementing an irrigated intensive grazing system, the ATTRA publication Irrigated Pastures: Setting Up an Intensive Grazing System That Works will be of interest to you. It is available at https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/summaries/summary.php?pub=449.