What Backyard Animals Eat Grass

Find out which familiar and unexpected backyard animals munch on grass and how they keep your lawn in check!


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Pest Management


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You might be surprised to learn just how many backyard animals have a diet that includes grass. From the important suspects like sheep, goats, and cattle to the less obvious grazers such as alpacas and llamas, these animals play a vital role in maintaining your lawn. Even horses, with their large appetites, rely heavily on grass for essential nutrients. But did you know that deer, often seen as mere garden pests, also graze on grass? There's much more to uncover about these fascinating creatures and the ways they contribute to a balanced backyard ecosystem.


If you're looking for an efficient way to maintain your backyard grass, sheep might be the perfect solution. These animals are natural grazers, meaning they eat grass continuously, which helps keep your lawn well-trimmed without the need for a lawnmower.

Certain sheep breeds, such as Soays, Landes de Bruyère, and Camerouns, aren't just effective in grazing but also at risk of extinction, making their use doubly beneficial.

Sheep can contribute greatly to the biodiversity of your backyard. Studies have shown that their grazing can increase biodiversity by up to 40% in some areas. This is due to the fact that as sheep eat grass, they help manage plant growth, allowing a variety of plant species to flourish.

Furthermore, sheep don't damage habitats; their grazing is gentle enough to maintain the environment without causing erosion or other harm.

Moreover, sheep manure is a natural fertilizer that can enrich your soil, promoting healthier grass and plant growth. Public authorities have successfully used just five sheep per hectare for environmental maintenance, proving their effectiveness on a larger scale.


When it comes to maintaining your backyard, goats are expert brush cutters and enthusiastic grass munchers. These animals are incredibly effective at keeping undergrowth and irregular green spaces in check. If you've got a sloping area, breeds like Ditches, Rove, and Poitevine are especially well-suited for the job. Goats will eat grass with gusto, which makes them excellent for maintaining green spaces.

However, goats' efficiency comes with some challenges. They're known for their escape artist tendencies, so you'll need to inspect their enclosures daily to make sure they stay within the designated areas. Goats aren't just limited to grass; they might also nibble on decorative shrubs and trees if not managed properly. This means you have to keep an eye on them to prevent any unwanted munching on your prized plants.

In addition to grass, goats are adept at tackling underbrush, making them complementary to sheep, which primarily graze on grass. By combining goats with other grazing animals, you can maintain a well-balanced and manicured backyard.

Just bear in mind, proper management is key to keeping your goats focused on the grass and not your garden's decorative elements.


When contemplating alpacas for your backyard, their grazing habits are a key benefit. These animals efficiently consume grass, helping maintain a healthy lawn while preventing overgrazing and soil erosion.

Alpacas' high-fiber diet means they thrive on grass, making them an excellent choice for backyard grazing.

Alpaca Grazing Habits

Alpacas are efficient lawn grazers that prefer to nibble on grasses, legumes, and hay. They've a unique way of grazing; instead of uprooting the grass, they nip off the tops, allowing the grass to regrow. This method makes them excellent at maintaining your lawn without causing extensive damage. When alpacas eat, they're selective and avoid toxic plants and weeds, which helps maintain a healthier lawn ecosystem.

One of the key aspects of alpaca grazing habits is their gentle approach. Their selective grazing ensures that only the desirable plants are eaten, and the grass height is kept at an ideal level. This makes them particularly useful if you want a natural way to keep your backyard looking its best.

Additionally, alpacas have an efficient digestive system that allows them to extract maximum nutrients from the grass they consume. Thanks to this, they can thrive on a diet primarily composed of grasses, legumes, and hay, reducing the need for frequent mowing.

Nutritional Benefits Grass

Understanding the nutritional benefits of grass for alpacas highlights why these animals thrive as efficient grazers and contribute positively to backyard ecosystems. Alpacas primarily consume grasses and hay, which provide them with essential nutrients. Their unique digestive system allows them to extract maximum nutrients from these sources, ensuring they stay healthy and vigorous. Unlike sheep, which prefer a different kind of grazing, alpacas can graze very close to the ground, maintaining a well-manicured lawn or pasture.

Grazing alpacas contribute to weed control naturally. Their grazing habits prevent weeds from overtaking your yard, and their manure is nutrient-rich, fertilizing the soil and promoting a healthier ecosystem. This dual functionality makes alpacas an excellent choice for maintaining your backyard.

For the best health, alpacas need a balanced diet of grass and hay. This diet supports their digestive health, providing necessary fiber and nutrients. Ensuring your alpacas have access to fresh, high-quality grass and hay will keep them in top condition, allowing them to graze efficiently and contribute to the upkeep of your backyard.

To conclude, alpacas' nutritional reliance on grass makes them invaluable as both grazers and natural lawn maintainers.


In your backyard, llamas can be a low-maintenance and effective way to keep the grass trimmed. Unlike a couple of sheep, llamas are relatively easy to care for and don't require extensive oversight. Before introducing llamas, though, you'll need to work on fencing to make sure their space is secure. They thrive well with basic fencing, making them suitable for backyard settings.

Llamas are hardy animals that can be left alone for periods, provided they've access to grass and water. Their minimal grooming needs—such as occasional toenail trimming—make them an attractive option for busy homeowners. In addition, managing their manure is simple. Llama manure doesn't attract many pests and can be composted to enrich your garden soil.

These resilient animals are well-suited for limited space, making them perfect for small backyards. Their grazing habits help keep the grass short, reducing the need for frequent mowing. Moreover, llamas are generally calm and gentle, which can be a plus if you have children or other pets.


If llamas aren't quite what you're looking for, cattle can be another effective choice for backyard grass maintenance. Cattle are big ruminants, well-suited for maintaining large, flat areas, especially those with marshy zones. Popular breeds for this task include Highland Cattle and Salers. These breeds are not just hardy but also easy to supervise, making them a convenient option for grazing settings.

Unlike hair sheep, cattle's manure doesn't greatly enhance the soil, which can be a factor depending on your soil management goals. One major advantage of using cattle over a riding mower is that they don't attempt to escape, reducing the need for constant supervision. However, transporting cattle is more challenging because of their size and the logistics involved, making them less mobile compared to smaller animals like sheep or goats.

Here's a quick comparison:

Aspect Cattle
Suitable Terrain Large, flat, marshy zones
Popular Breeds Highland, Salers
Manure Impact Minimal soil enrichment
Supervision Easy
Transport Challenging

Choosing cattle can be a wise move if you have extensive grounds and need a low-maintenance solution for grass control.


When it comes to natural grazing patterns, horses typically graze for several hours each day, which helps maintain their digestive health.

Grass provides essential nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals needed for their overall well-being.

Ensuring your horse has access to ample fresh grass can greatly benefit their nutrition and support their digestive system.

Natural Grazing Patterns

Horses exhibit natural grazing patterns by constantly moving to find fresh, short grass, which they prefer eating. Their grazing habits involve a scattered approach, allowing them to eat the grass while guaranteeing that no single area is overgrazed.

Horses have a natural instinct to seek out tender, shorter grass, which is both easier to chew and more nutritious. They can consume up to 2% of their body weight daily, making continual movement vital to finding ample fresh forage.

The act of grazing is essential for a horse's digestive health and overall well-being. By moving and grazing during the day, horses not only satisfy their hunger but also prevent boredom, which can lead to unwanted behaviors. Their strong herding instinct means they feel safer grazing in groups, adding a social dimension to their eating habits.

Rotational grazing is a beneficial practice for managing pasture health when you have horses. By moving horses between different sections of a pasture, you can prevent overgrazing and allow grass in previously grazed areas to recover. This method ensures that horses always have access to fresh, nutritious grass, aligning with their natural grazing patterns and promoting sustainable land management.

Nutritional Benefits

Grazing on grass offers horses a natural, high-fiber diet that supports their overall health and well-being. Horses require a diet rich in fiber, and grass is an essential source of this nutrient. By grazing, horses obtain essential nutrients like protein, vitamins, and minerals necessary for their health. These nutrients help maintain strong muscles, a strong immune system, and overall vitality.

The act of grazing also plays an important role in maintaining a horse's digestive system. Consuming grass helps prevent digestive issues such as colic and ulcers. Grass is naturally high in fiber, which aids in proper digestion and keeps the digestive tract functioning smoothly. Horses that graze regularly are less likely to experience these painful and potentially dangerous conditions.

Moreover, grazing promotes natural behaviors in horses, reducing boredom and stress. When they're allowed to graze, they'll take care of their mental well-being by engaging in this instinctive activity.

To make sure horses have access to nutritious grass, proper pasture management is essential. This includes rotating grazing areas and monitoring the quality of the grass. By doing so, you guarantee that your horses can graze safely and enjoy the nutritional benefits that grass provides.


Deer are excellent for maintaining your backyard's sloping green spaces due to their agility and adaptability. They do a good job maneuvering uneven terrain, making them comparable to goats and sheep when it comes to grazing. Unlike goats and sheep, though, deer require larger areas to roam and forage, which makes them ideal for properties with ample land.

Having deer in your backyard means you'll need to monitor them closely. Overpopulation can lead to issues such as overgrazing, which can harm the local ecosystem. Regular culling is necessary to make sure the health and balance of the herd. Throughout winter, you might also need to provide hay to supplement their diet, as natural forage becomes scarce.

Deer can be quite shy initially, but over time, they may become accustomed to human presence. This adaptation can allow them to contribute positively to the ecosystem, as they help maintain vegetation and serve as prey for local predators.

Nevertheless, it's important to manage their population and diet to prevent potential problems. By understanding their needs and behaviors, you can make certain that deer remain a beneficial part of your backyard environment.