🔊Choosing the Right Livestock with Cherrie Nolden

by | Nov 15, 2023 | Podcast, Silvopasture

In this podcast we’re listening back to highlights from a presentation by farmer Cherrie Nolden at last year’s Perennial Farm Gathering. If you’re planning to join this year’s Perennial Farm Gathering, make sure you’ve got your tickets! We’ll be meeting online December 6th-8th, which is right around the corner. You can find everything you’re looking for at savannainstitute.org/pfg. We’ll see you there!

As we’ll hear in this episode, Cherrie Nolden has over 30 years of experience with pastured livestock management, with a focus on using goats for oak savanna restoration. She’s raised goats, sheep, horses, guard dogs, and other animals on her farm, which is not far from the Savanna Institute’s Spring Green Campus in Wisconsin.

Cherrie studied at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has a research background in animal science, agroecology, and wildlife biology.  Like a lot of farmers I’ve worked with, Cherrie is generous with her time when it comes to helping other farmers get started, and does her best to help them not make the same mistakes she’s seen other people make.

We invited Cherrie to talk about how to choose “landscape-appropriate livestock.” Livestock are an important component of agroforestry systems. One of the five soil health guidelines is to “incorporate livestock”, and for farmers looking to “farm in nature’s image,” as we say, it’s apparent that healthy ecosystems always include animals.

On a more practical level, livestock production is often the primary source of cash-flow for people starting an agroforestry operation. But not all livestock are created equal. Goats, sheep, cattle, hogs, horses, and fowl all eat different things, behave differently, have different weaknesses, and have different market potential.

This is also true of different classes of livestock: young, old, male, female, breeding, non-breeding. If you choose the wrong type of livestock for your farm and your management goals, you’re setting yourself up for a losing battle that is not going to end well for anybody.

Cherrie Nolden is here to help prevent that.

Goals & Planning

  • What problems or opportunities do you have?
  • How could animals help you manage the problems, or turn the opportunity into cashflow?
  • Will you like working with those animals?
    • Opportunity cost for time, expense, learning curve
    • Ecological site context match with animals
    • Human enjoyment of the animals
  • Use natural behavior and preferences of the species, matched to the task or situation
  • Decide if the animals will be a permanent system component, or just seasonal
  • Decide if the animals will be owned or rented, or contracted • Food sale rules and animal residency

Species to Consider










Livestock Guardian Dogs

Herding Dogs


We want to thank Cherrie for sharing her expertise with us at the Perennial Farm Gathering 2022. If you have more questions for Cherrie, especially about goats, don’t be afraid to find her on Facebook. 

Photos are by Cherrie Nolden.

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