Goats and Horses

niffer(z5 Ontario)August 8, 2005

I am a new hobby farm owner and want to keep a few horses as well as a few goats in the same pastures. I would like to know if any of you out there have these animals and what you do for fencing. I have nothing now, but plan on putting fences up in the fall. I can't afford no-climb mesh, so it looks like electric or a combination of electric and another material may be what I need. I'd love to hear what you've done. Its said they are companion animals, but their fencing needs seem too differnt! Thanks!

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goats make great companions for horses. however, goats are escape artists so a single strand of electric wire probably won't be sufficient. it would have to be chest high to a horse and a goat would be able to walk right under it.

we have a horse, 2 llamas and one goat. they are in a dry lot, fenced with combination panels. i have never had a problem with the goat getting out.

i once had a nanny goat that chewed the horse's tail. they can whack a horse's tail off in a heartbeat. don't know why some goats do this and others don't.

if you plan on more than one horse, a goat or goats aren't really necessary for companionship. if you just want to have goats to keep them as pets, you'll have to make sure your fencing is escape-proof. they do make wonderful pets if you can keep them confined. if they escape, they love nothing better than jumping up on the hood of your vehicle.

welcome to the wonderful world of farm critters! :)

    Bookmark   August 9, 2005 at 6:11AM
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niffer(z5 Ontario)

Thanks Ninapearl, I don't know what combination panels are though. Could you explain? I am totally new to all of this! Do you think 6 rows of electric would work? Thanks again for your response! It is, by the way, by husband's idea to have goats...I swear I'm going to start calling him Noah...he wants two of everything!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2005 at 10:16AM
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cheribelle(Z5 IA)

We use 5 strands of electric wire. This is more than enough for the horse, but have to have it for the goats.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2005 at 6:40PM
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i don't have a lot of experience with electric fence but i would think that 5 strands would be sufficient to keep even the most escape-minded goat confined!

combination panels are those made from very very heave gauge "wire" for lack of a better term. they have the squares that make up a 16 foot wide by 54 inch panel. the squares narrow gradually until you get to the bottom of the panel where they are smaller. this is to prevent horses or cattle from getting feet and legs caught through the holes. that probably isn't a good enough explanation for you to picture what i'm talking about but i would think if you do a google search, you could likely find a picture for reference.

LOL, noah. i like that!

by the way, do you have any experience with horses?? if not, my suggestion is to read all you can and then read more. ask ask ask questions! if you don't have experience and you want something you can trust, take a horse-savvy person with you on any buying excursions. and by all means, do NOT discount any horse just because it's over the age of 12, 13, 14, 15, even 20 years old.

the best horse for a beginner is an aged horse who has seen and done it all. just last year, i finally had to have my old mare put down. i bought her when she was 16 years old. she was 37 when she died. i have had horses for 30+ years and i wouldn't even consider anything less than 10 or 12 years old for myself.

Lordy, i could go on and on and on!! sorry for the rant!

welcome to farm life. you're gonna LOVE it! :)

    Bookmark   August 9, 2005 at 9:57PM
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niffer(z5 Ontario)

Thanks guys! Nina, I do have lots of books about caring for horses. I've never owned one, but I've ridden for a lot of years now and finally have the space! My riding instructor is going to help me find the perfect horses for me. I have absolutely no problems buying older horses, in fact I haven't really considered a younger one at all! And I think the combination panels sound like what we call page wire if I understand correctly. Cheribelle, I'm relieved to know that 5 strands of electric hold in your goats! I was so scared that I might have to buy the mesh and it would cost me a fortune! Thanks for your help!

    Bookmark   August 10, 2005 at 12:55AM
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apcohrs(z5 IL)

The nutritional requirements of goats are different from horses, so please don't let the goats eat the horse feed. IIRC, the copper levels in horse feed is toxic to goats.

Also goats are browsers (need to eat bushes as well as grass), while horses are grazers. This can be an advantage in the pasture as goats will LOVE keeping the brush down. They happily eat poison ivy and blackberry bushes.

There are rotational grazing strategies that USE this characteristic - like divide your pasture into three or more pieces. Let the horses have the lushest grass, then move them and let 1st paddock rest, then turn the goats in and let them eat the rough stuff the horses wouldnt eat.

I am SO happy to read that you have horse experience -- I am always amazed at the number of people who have NO idea how to handle a horse who want to 'get' a couple to breed those cute foals. Disaster waiting to happen - and it won't wait long.

I hope that in your horse library you have Cherry Hill's Horsekeeping on a Small Acerage.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2005 at 10:26AM
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niffer(z5 Ontario)

Thanks Apcohrs! I actually own that book as well as about 4 others! I've been planning this dream for years! I read everything I can get my hands on! Heaven pity the poor fool who happens to hack down our road! I rush right over to talk and ask questions, beg for someone to tell me where all the trails are...etc! lol I wondered what I should do with the rough brush next to the far fence...I planned on asking a neighbour to smooth it all out for me. Maybe I'll let the goats at it first and see what happens! Thanks for your help!

    Bookmark   August 10, 2005 at 10:35AM
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DPallas(z6, SW Mo)

Copper isn't toxic to goats, goats need copper (with the possible exception of some Angoras) and will suffer from symptoms of nutritional deficiencies if the soil is too poor in copper and suppliments are withheld from their diet. Goats coping with mineral deficiences will strip trees of their bark and kill them.

Copper is toxic to sheep.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2005 at 12:02PM
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cjbrady(forest grove OR)

Our goats and horses get along fine. You do have to watch to be sure individual horses will tolerate the goats, however. One of our neighbor horses will NOT and when she was in our field, she tried to strike at one of our goats.
A good kick from a horse could kill a goat so be sure they get along before leaving them unsupervised. A horse would have to be very familiar/tolerant to allow a goat to nibble on its tail ;-)
I have not had very good luck, btw, with electric fencing and goats. They think its quite worth it to be zapped and run through it. My fencer may just not be strong enough? I've found horses tend to back up quickly when shocked - goats jump forward, through the fence then on to your rose garden, veggies and, yes, the highest point they can find which is often the hood of your car. ;-)

    Bookmark   August 10, 2005 at 4:36PM
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If you go with electric fence, it must be one rated for sheep and goats, properly installed and maintained or they will escape (and they may escape anyway). They know when it is working properly and when it is working minimally. The same charger that will hold horses will not hold goats. Your cheapest fence for both animals would be 32", 10" or 12" spacing sheep and goat field fence (net wire) with 2 or 3 strands of hot wire on top. A hot wire on the inside about 18" off the ground will help keep the goats from rubbing on the fence and tearing it down. There is no cheap fence where goats are concerned. Invest in a good fence and you will enjoy your animals a lot more. The goats can and will quickly become a headache if they are not properly contained. I have raised goats for many years and they are a challenge, to say the least, to keep contained where you want them. Fencing is a constant headache when not done right to begin with. I know firsthand because I have been there. I didn't have these forums to learn from when I started in goats. I had to learn the hard way but I toughed it out and now that I am set up properly, I really do enjoy my goats. They are very intelligent animals. Linda

    Bookmark   August 10, 2005 at 4:49PM
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If you've never had horses or goats why don't you start with one and become proficient. Then add the other later on. Books are great but experience is what will make you a knowledgable livestock owner. There's a lot more to it than putting up good fencing and letting the animals in the pasture. Tom

    Bookmark   August 10, 2005 at 9:07PM
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I have goats and horses. I usually keep them together but feeding becomes another issue. The goats will not let the horses eat. They butt right in an eat up the horses food. I also have started feeding peanut hay to the goats a no no for horses.
The fencing is the other big isssue. I spend most of my time working on the electric fence. some lessons I have learned are:
1. Do it right the first time
2. Try and kill any weeds or plants they may short out the fence.
3. Good grounding of the electric system
4. Get something to measure the strengh of the shock not just a tester that lights up.
5. Different types of metal will cause electrical problems.
6. Teach you animals about the electric fence do not just put them in the electric fence area. They will run through it. I put any new animals in an old cow pen with good fencing. I have one strand of electric fence with plenty of orange tape on it. They soon learn that the orange tape and wire means to stay back.
7. Get something to help with lighting and your charger. They do not mix.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2005 at 12:21PM
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What do you think is the best kind of goat for a companion? I have a 22 year old recently gone blind morgan. He really needs a buddy.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 11:56PM
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Pygmy goats are nice pets. We lost a horse a while ago and our old mare was left alone so we got the goat as a buddy. Even now that we have a thoroughbred also, the goat and quarter mare are still best friends. The goat follows them around, eats their food, and never wanders too far. We just use wire cattle fencing for large pasture, and wood fencing for the coral, but we had to put cattle fencing over it so the goat cant get out (which she does anyway). She gets out no matter what we do and can fit through small cracks.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2006 at 9:58AM
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I dont have good luck keeping my goats in a pasture type area. I have what we call the "doll house", its a 4X6 little shed, that that goats bed down for the night in. We keep the goats in there for about the first 3 days, they get fed in there, etc. I let them out on a picket basicaly for several hours a day for the first week, then I alow them to "run" free for several hours during the day that they are not on the picket and I do that for about 3 or 4 days. Then I alow them to run free the hole day abour 3 days(not day after day but ever other day) and I do that for 1 week. This lets them know that they sleep in the doll house, they have water there, shade, food, etc. They put themselves to bed each night. After this aclimation period, I just let my goats have full run of the place. They play in the pasture with my horses, the never leave the yard(its about 2 acrs) and I just make sure that the flowers I plant are things they dont like to eat. I have about 20 acrs of pasture besides the yard. And yes the goats eat the horse food, hay, salt, all of that. Goats do need coper as it said in one post, but too much is not good for them. You can find that out in almost any vet book. That being besides the point.
Good luck

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 7:59PM
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too_many_pets(LI Z7)

OK, here's the stupid suburbanite who wishes she had a farm question: Is chain -link fencing adequate to maintain 2 nigerian dwarf goats? Thanks! How much area would these two animals need to be happy? THANKS!!!!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 9:36PM
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erica- Sorry about your horse's vision loss.

Here is a link you might find helpful.


    Bookmark   June 27, 2007 at 11:26AM
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