Goats, Sheep, Beef, and Chickens in Harmony

I’ve spoken about how important temperament is to the quality and quantity of meat but it has a great deal to do with mixing species in one pasture or coral so all live together in harmony.

  • Less space is needed when more than one type of animal lives in close proximity to  others.

 

I house my goat buck with my does during the winter lowering the amount of stalls, hay feeders, and waterers needed besides snow to shovel. It is also handy for the chickens who love the goats this time of year in particular the two larger ones.

  • Different species can benefit from one another.

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“Taxi anyone?” says the chickens so their feet barely touch the ground as they head to water or hay. I can’t blame them as I’ve witnessed how susceptible their feet are to frostbite. Though the chickens have an insulated coop with water and feed, they too like to get out to stretch their legs and enjoy the sunshine and what better way than on a heat radiating back of a goat or sheep.

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  • Less equipment is needed. Right now we have Ole Virginia, the single ewe, in with the goats. If not we’d have to have another hay feeder, shelter, and waterer but they mix amicably saving me lots of time and work.

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The cats have been known to  share a bowl of milk with a milk loving goat. This was at our old place.

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  • They benefit from the natural differences of each species.

The cats love the goat’s milk and the chickens benefit from its calcium which means when I ‘m feeding milk, I’m not using the expensive oyster shells to supply calcium. I also don’t have to haul as much water.

We have fewer insects and lice problems on the goats and sheep with the chickens doing the grooming. Think of the money you save on pest control, time spent on it, and it helps feed the chickens, a win, win situation. Besides it’s all natural. The barn cats keep the mice at bay from the grain feed bins and have been known to cuddle up together with the goats.

We placed a ewe in with a lonely steer one time. He grew to adore her and her wool showed it as his tongue caressed her wool leaving it very wet. She on the other hand tolerated him. Another bored lone beef, Pedro, liked the barn cats. They’d walk through his pen and he’d gently pick them up with his teeth and set them aside just a foot from where they were. You’d think they’d scream but they hardly missed a stride and continued slowly on their way. Come Spring, he killed three tiny kittens by trying to do the same thing. It broke his heart. When we first put in the ewe, Ole, Virginia she made googly eyes at the buck goat who thought she was off her rocker. It was good for a laugh.  IMG_9347

Then there was my mare. She had chickens, kittens, baby goats, lambs, and even the occasional piglet running between her legs. Not kept in the same pen but none the less there was the occasional one that popped through the fence. Before long  she simply widen her legs and peek down below to see what else was amiss. It helped to calm her triple AAA running breeding which often made her a handful.

This mixing of the species does require

  • better genetics

but the reward is fewer problems.

I have a “No biddy allowed!” policy in my barnyard and it has served me well. No more baby goats who had another doe broad side them and break their ribs. No more not sharing the hay feeder or any other overly selfish acts. Now keep in mind I’m not talking about one animal pushing the other one lightly to establish dominance, but instead the rough bashing of each other. Aggression and wild behavior is often rooted in genetic.

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Oh, I almost forgot my rabbits. They get out of their cage and come running back to me to be picked up and put back in even though they are not handled. How nice is that? Then there is the chickens with sweet tempered roosters, I could pick up if wanted to and have done so.  Hens that if not broody will allow me to simply reach underneath for eggs without even moving.

So think about it — are there problems you deal with needlessly? As for me I think what a wonderful world it would be if all the livestock we bred were either better or best personality wise and conformation. In fact on Facebook I saw a tiny little human kid nursing off of a cow standing placidly. Not just any ole cow. Obviously the cream of the crop for personality. Her udder sparkling clean. Obviously well loved.

7 thoughts on “Goats, Sheep, Beef, and Chickens in Harmony

  1. Now that is just weird; but is how I remember it being done a long time ago. I do not remember that different animals were intentionally raised together, but I do not remember much effort put into separating them into different regions either. Hens were everywhere (except for in this neighborhood where there were just too many predators wanting them).

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    1. Most homesteaders had their animals roaming together. Simply a lack of space, and housing. The interesting thing is how they benefit each other and the environment differently. It is only in this modern society where species are raised in mass numbers that they have been apart. Mine separate off at night into their own stalls, coop, or shed against predators but only because they are trained to do so. The exception, two small sheep and two small goats all once bottle fed and of the same age go in a stall together at night. We only have two stalls. The two pens in the barn right now have rabbits until the rabbitry is built. Sometimes the one ewe insists on going in the stall at night with the goats but that makes it crowded. I like the fact that it is one happy family and the most entertaining part is watching them interact together.

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      1. In this neighborhood, not many of us raise such a variety of animals that separation is much of a concern. For example, the neighbor with swine raises only swine and a few hens. The neighbor with cattle likewise raises only a few steers with a few hens roaming about. The cattle and swine are not near each other. Those with many hens typically get a peacock to live with the hens because they protect the hens.

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  2. J > Just a note of caution, though. Grazing poultry can leave bacteria in the soil and amongst the base of the grasses which are a very serious health hazard to sheep and other ruminents. Listeriosis is one such : the bacteria can survive for a long time. We don’t now put our sheep into the field where the chickens are unless the grass is growing fast – ie in summer. Never in winter. Notwithstanding that and other points of detail, I agree that more is achieved with the same land, farming sustainably, with mixed species.

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  3. Found out why i had not heard of Liseriosis. In northern hemispheres, listeriosis has been found to occur more frequently between December to May. Well, good luck there. We are freezing cold and the chickens don’t roam far. The pastures are burried under 2 feet of snow so nothing goes there. Poultry is limited to small home flocks and not so many of those in our area. No poultry farms in Wyoming I’ve heard of because of the weather I’m sure. I’d guess it is very rare in Wyoming.

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