Flerds are multi species groups of animals. They eat, sleep, raise their young, play and grow up together. They have a symbiotic relationship. The larger animals, such as the cows, protect the sheep and goats from coyotes and other predators. If the sheep get startled in the pasture, you will see them run to the cattle for protection.
“Mixed-species stocking can foster sound landscape management while offering economic and ecological advantages compared with mono-species stocking. Producers contemplating a mixed-species enterprise should reﬂect on several considerations before implementing this animal management strategy. Factors applicable to a particular producer’s landscape must be considered together with goals and economic constraints before implementing mixed-species stocking. A major consideration when using mixed-species stocking is how to deal with predation losses, especially among small ruminants. An approach being adopted in some commercial operations capitalizes on using innate animal behaviors to form cohesive groups of two or more livestock species that consistently remain together under free-ranging conditions. These groups are referred to as ﬂerds. The mixing of a ﬂock of sheep and/or goats with a herd of cattle into a ﬂerd has been shown to protect sheep and goats from coyote predation, as well as offering other husbandry advantages. Some of the added advantages include more efﬁcient conversion of forage into animal protein. Creation of ﬂerds, their maintenance and advantages are discussed.”
From: Managing Livestock Using Animal Behavior: Mixed-Species Stocking and Flerds, by D. M. Anderson, E. L. Fredrickson and R. E. Estell, Department of Agriculture, Eastern Kentucky University Richmond, KY 40475, USA. First published online February 10, 2012