Trees often are left in cattle pastures for shade and beauty, but research has shown that they can be planted there as a second crop without hindering the first.
Cattle, hay and lumber can be produced on the same ground at the same time. Known as silvopasture, it’s the practice of growing widely spaced pine trees on land being farmed for cattle and hay production.
John Kushla, forestry specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, says the dual land management system requires extra effort but offers short- and long-term payoffs.
“The selling point is you can grow as much pasture under a few trees as you can under no trees,” says Kushla. “The trees that you have give you the bene fit of a longer-term investment that you can be working on while you’re growing livestock and forage.”
Silvopasture is suited to cattle producers wanting to make extra money by adding a forestry element or to forest landowners wanting to add cattle. Kushla says it requires more intensive land management than typically is required in a timber operation.
The practice is suited to existing pasture with and without trees. Trees scattered in a pasture make cutting hay difficult, but don’t limit the cow’s ability to graze the forage.