wikiHow to Hand Seed Cattle Pastures

Often using machinery for reseeding pastures isn't as cost effective as you wish it to be, especially with high fuel prices and maintenance or rent costs to rent machinery to seed your pastures with. Knowing how to seed your pastures without the use of machinery can be helpful in keeping costs down for grazing cattle.


  1. Image titled Hand Seed Cattle Pastures Step 1
    Pour some grass and/or legume seeds into a bucket. Grass and legume seeds would be of any species you've chosen to seed your pastures with, depending on your location. Put as much in as you can comfortably carry, depending on how far you have to carry it or how big of an area you want to seed at one time.
  2. Image titled Hand Seed Cattle Pastures Step 2
    Enter the pasture where the cows are grazing. Move quietly and calmly among them, taking your time to gently scatter the seeds around their feet and over the whole area of the pasture.
    • The cows will push the seed into the soil with their hooves and naturally fertilize the area with the waste they excrete.
  3. Image titled Hand Seed Cattle Pastures Step 3
    Do this for each pasture, when the cows are grazing in that area.
    • Pay special attention to areas that suffer from high traffic areas, such as near and around watering areas, gates, etc.
      • Please note that you may find that growing grass in this area will be much more difficult because these areas see a lot of hoof traffic, much more than out in the pasture. This could make it harder for the seeds to grow properly into grass or legume plants.


  • Throw the seed in a wide arch or sprinkle them on the ground. Throwing in a wide arch is the most effective way of spreading seed, but may spook your cattle if they're sensitive to sudden movements.
    • Typically any cattle used in a MIG (managed intensive grazing) system are quite calm and won't startle and panic easily if you use this method. But it's best to sprinkle seed around when walking among the animals so you don't cause cause any trouble, and throw it when you're a safe distance from them.
  • The best time to utilize this method is during spring or early autumn, after rain when the soil is not too dry.
  • This method is most suitable when you are using a managed intensive grazing system with your cattle because it imitates the natural methods by which grasses and forbs re-seed themselves in a native grassland. It should not be used for any other type of grazing system, such as continuous grazing.
  • It could also be argued that you should not graze the reseeded pasture for a whole grazing season to protect the more tender shoots from the grazing cattle. However, in practice this is unnecessary and is one of the strengths of this approach over full scale re-seeding of paddocks. Just as in nature, a well-run system of managed intensive grazing will not allow cattle to graze in any one paddock long enough to do damage to roots or young shoots. On the contrary well managed intensive grazing will optimize conditions for the establishment of particular grasses and legumes, and will minimize the growth of others.
    • A lot of producers who practice MIG/rotational grazing find that even without hand-seeding pastures, a higher diversity of different plant species--both grasses and forbs--come about just by grazing cattle in a way that imitates nature and the movements of the buffalo herds across the grasslands.
    • Stockpiling pastures can be another form of reseeding, since grasses and forbs are allowed to reach full maturity and go into dormancy before being grazed in the "off" season.


  • Avoid seeding during a time when calving is being done or when you have the bull out with the cows. You could run the risk of getting chased out of the paddock if you're not careful.
  • Some may argue that this process is more labor-intensive and time-consuming than mechanized forms of seeding. However, under systems of managed, intensive grazing, smaller areas or whole paddocks can be hand-seeded in short, un-laborious shifts. The key here is to "follow nature," where seed is released slowly and in phases over fairly long periods, dependent on factors such as season, weather conditions, and/or passing cattle.

Things You'll Need

  • Cattle
  • Bucket or sack
  • Grass/legume seeds

Article Info

Categories: Cattle | Farming