The health and vitality of grazing/foraging animals has been failing.  Several experts believe that’s due to a lack of naturally-sourced nutrients and therapeutic variety.  Horses, cattle, sheep, goats and other grazers have been feeding on fast-growing grass planted in nutrient-deficient soils. Plants labeled as ‘weeds’ have been killed off to accommodate efficient grass growth.

The Benefits of Herbal Leys

There are a number of reasons that mixed grasses, wild vegetables and herb patches (or ‘leys’) are making a comeback in pastures:

  • Overall health improvement
  • Reduction of veterinarian expenses
  • Organic farming
  • Increase breeding
  • Reduce miscarriage
  • Produce healthier offspring
  • Improve flavor
  • Increase milk yield
  • Replenish soil nutrients
  • Fortify compost

Sometimes we know why this added diversity works, sometimes we don’t.  In his article in Acres USA, Jerry Brunetti, managing director of Agri-Dynamics writes, “Perhaps the diversity of such a mixture in a paddock provides critical trace elements or various plant hormones, enzymes, aromatic oils, tannins, amino acids, fatty acids, alkaloids, pigments, vitamins and their co-factors, unidentified rumen flora stimulants, etc. The point is that there is no substitute for diversity; there is no way to quantify all the possible and synergistic interactions among both identifiable and unidentifiable components.”

What Should You Plant in Your Pasture?

You’ll have to do some experimenting to determine what holistic mix will work best for you.  Aggressive grazing, climate, growing season, soil type and cohabiting plants can all impact how well individual species grow and establish in our fields.

Tip:  Allow the plants to establish outside of the fenced area, thereby reseeding the pasture even when the animals have eaten the plants they can access. It will also provide a patch to harvest for storage or for seeds.

You can explore other options with combined functions, such as bordering the fence with raspberry bushes for berries, healing leaves, soil stability, wind protection, etc.

Avoid invasive species that may choke out your herbal ley variety and native plants.

Cattle in natural pastureSome of the most beneficial and easily grown holistic & herbal ley choices for pasture grazing include:

Perennial Fennel
Sheep’s Parsley
Clover (red & white)
Wild Vetch
Meadow Fescue
Rye Grass

Some research is required to determine what is best tolerated and utilized by your specific grazing animals.  The growing season and drought tolerance of each species will also have to be determined so you can plan a mix that will produce some plants all the time.

In cold climates, herbs can be harvested, dried and stored for Winter mixes.  Alternately, dried herbs may be purchased from a reputable herb supplier like Starwest Botanicals.

As is Nature’s way, the life cycle of the plants will also benefit the grazers by replenishing soil nutrients, which in turn grows more nutrient-rich plants.  The plant roots and decomposing plants serve this purpose directly, while the higher quality of manure produced by the animal also contributes.

You can “wild forage” many of the above plants with a little research on identifying them, then transplant them.  You’ll find bulk seeds at Stoke Seeds. Click on the herb name and then select ‘Grower Sizes’.

Have you tried seeding your pasture for health?  We’d love to hear about your experience, including what plants were most successful for you in your particular part of the world. Do you use herbal leys with horses, cattle, sheep…?

Levy, Juliette de Bairacli. 1991. The Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm & Stable.
Comparison of a herbal ley with a ryegrass-white clover pasture and pure ryegrass sward receiving fertiliser nitrogen – B.E. Ruz-Jerez, P. Roger Ball, R.E. White And P.E.H. Gregg
Foster, L. 1988. Herbs in Pastures. Development and Research in Britain, 1890-1984. Biological Agriculture & Horticulture.
Brunetti, Jerry. 2003. Benefits of Biodiverse Forage.
Naujoks, Claudia. Homeopathy for my Horse.

✔ You may also be interested in reading:
Natural Treatment of Hoof Ailments in Horses and Livestock
7 Stunning Super-Herbs to Grow for Pets (with Infographic)
Reader Tip: Seaweed is an Old Race Horse Trick


© All Natural Pet Care BlogContent on this website (all or in part) may NOT be used elsewhere without expressed permission. Content theft will result in legal action. Thank you for respecting the effort that we have put into our original content. If you would like to have quality content created for you, please contact our writer directly.

DISCLOSURE: We may receive compensation for links to products on this website.

DISCLAIMER: Statements on this website may not have been evaluated by the FDA, Health Canada nor any other government regulator. The information and products provided by are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, nor prevent any disease and are intended for educational purposes only. READ MORE…

COMMENTS ARE MODERATED – Legitimate comments will be published after a short delay. Spam will not be published.

19 thoughts on “Greener Pastures – Seeding for Grazer Health & Wellness ©

  1. I’ve heard of planting like this but I couldn’t decide which plants until reading your article. Thannks!

  2. I read about herbal leys for grazing cattle in a magazine last season which lead me to search this Spring and I found you. Thank you!

  3. We’ll start seeding our fields next week and I’ll add some of these plants when the seeds come in. It’s amazing that most of us only know about a few of the better grasses and that’s about it. Maybe I just need to read more blogs. 🙂

  4. I like the suggestion to plant some on the other side of the fence so it doesn’t all get eaten in the field. I have some of these plants growing naturally on our farm but I will add more now that I know which herbs to search for.

  5. I didn’t know there were so many pasture herbs & so on available for dry purchase. Thanks for turning me on to Starwest, my critters will be eating much better any day now.

  6. There are so many choices for herbal leys and just healthy plants in general. We have been experimenting with some of them with great results. The manure is used on our garden and it is absolutely better quality when there is a wide selection of plants for livestock to eat.

  7. I’m excited to start planting some of these natural plants in the Spring. Thank you ever so much for the post.

Comments are closed.