I'd like to improve my pasture. Zone 6, SW Missouri. A lot of clay and rock. Most of my soil is decently dark / fertile, but very compacted. I have five sheep and a goat on it now. In the future I may add chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys or rabbits. (Or some combination.) My grass is primarily fescue. The flock has eliminated most weeds. Used to be ragweed and another similar looking, but unidentified weed, so thick I couldn't see across my ~one acre pasture. Now that's gone. I find that once they eat the grass down low, it has a hard time catching back up. It gets super low in the winter, and during the drought we usually have mid to late summer. During very active growth, it gets ahead.
I know sheep and goats are better off eating at least 6" above the ground. I also know they have no intention of eliminating my thistles. I'm tired of spraying. I don't want the poison, it's not very effective, and it costs too much.
I'm hoping I can improve all of this by broadcasting a cover crop mix into the pasture. I have no experience with diverse cover crops. At greencoverseed.com, I came up with a potential mix:
Mung Beans (1.75), Red Clover (3.5), White Clover (3.5), Hairy Vetch (1), Lentil (1), Orchard Grass (3.5), Pearl Millet (1), Browntop Millet (1), Turnip (.5), Rapeseed (.5), African Cabbage (1), Plantain (.5), Buckwheat (3), Sunflower (.75)
Numbers in parentheses represent pounds of seed per acre.
The smartmix calculator did not take into account that I already have a fescue pasture. Nor did it tell me if I could broadcast this into the pasture as they graze it, or if it needs time to establish before they graze.
I have two pastures, each about an acre. I do rotate during active growth. I'll probably close off one pasture tomorrow. I also have a third pasture, about an acre to an acre and a half, which includes a semi-wooded lot. (The tree lot is around the size of a football field, maybe a bit larger.) I'm afraid to start them on that pasture though, because of the rampant poison hemlock. Some sources say it's fine, some say my whole flock will be dead in about three hours.
Specifically, I'm looking for feedback on my covercrop mix, how to adjust it, how to use it to best advantage. Can a mix like this smother thistle and / or poison hemlock? Maybe in combination with chicken tractoring? But any other advice is welcome. I hope this was the right place to post. I'll understand, though, if this gets moved to the pasture forum.