Goat Pasture Seeding Recommendations

These recommendations have been formulated in response to a number of inquiries as to which combination of forage species and what seeding rates are most appropriate for goat pasture establishment. Each of the recommended species allows for palatable, high quality forages for goat production. They tend to have easily selected leaves, stand upright and the variety appeals to the "selecting" nature of goats to help promote forage intake, according to the ‘cafeteria’ concept. Although not included in this mix, smooth bromegrass can be added to the mix at 4 lbs. per acre (4.4 kg/ha) to increase springtime grass content in the sward. Summer growth is addressed by the inclusion of Reed Canary and Orchard grasses.

Cultivar information is important. It relates to persistence and palatability in many cases, and so the recommended cultivar is as important as the species chosen. Where the recommended variety is not available, discuss with your forage seed supplier which available varieties are most similar to those recommended below.

Establishment may be accomplished by direct seeding the forage crop, or the protocol might be implemented using a mixed grain silage nurse crop.

Table 1. Recommended forage species and cultivars for goat pasture establishment. Seed suppliers are indicated for each species and cultivar, but is information based on the 1999-2000 sales year. Seeding rates are given in Imperial and Metric equivalents for ease of implementation.

Species Cultivar (Distributor) Rate (lbs. per acre) Rate (kg / ha)a
Alfalfa or Red Clover
Any recommended variety
Any recommended variety other than ‘Empire’
White Clover
‘Alice’ (Pickseed)
Orchard Grass
‘Kay’ (Mapleseed)* or ‘Okay’ (Mapleseed/Pickseed)
Reed Canarygrass**
‘Venture’ (Speare’s) or ‘Palaton’ (Mapleseed)

a - Rate in kg per ha is rounded to 1 decimal place
* - Kay is considered highly palatable
** - Use only modern, low alkaloid varieties for all livestock applications

For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: Jim Johnston - Forage and Sheep Researcher/University of Guelph; Christoph Wand - Beef, Sheep and Goat Nutritionist/OMAFRA
Creation Date: 01 November 2000
Last Reviewed: 05 April 2007