Can Sheep and Goats Live Together?

Sheep and Goats Live Together

Livestock farming has grown tremendously over the last few decades placing great strain on resources; hence productivity which affects the overall success of the agricultural venture. For this reason, some farmers are seeking for ways to efficiently manage resources while reaching high production and profitability. In order to achieve this, experts are considering increasing stocking densities through the practise of mixed livestock farming. A big part of it being centred on whether sheep and goats can live together successfully. Experiments conducted indicate that sheep and goats can live together peacefully without experiencing any adverse effects on animal health and production.

Keeping sheep and goats together

Sheep and goats can live together successfully and reach higher productivity. However, this practise requires a proper management system. Sheep and goats can live together if they are polled so as to reduce chances of injury. Another important factor to consider is the spread of diseases. Although there are diseases specific to some animal species, sheep and goats are small ruminants and so can sometimes be affected by the same diseases and infection such as coccidiosis and pneumonia. These may spread across the herd affecting livestock performance and in severe cases, death can occur. The upside of keeping sheep and goats together is that this farming practise allows for greater stocking density. Since more animals are kept on a single unit of land, production is increased while controlling costs thereby allowing for increased profitability.

Animal shelter is also an important aspect to consider when keeping sheep and goats together. Generally, goats and sheep can live together peacefully, however the shelter should be suitable for both animal species. Goats are considered as curious animals and so like to climb and explore. In fact, they have been termed ‘expert escape artists.’ As such, it is necessary to make use of a strong fence. Farmers should be aware that barbed wire fences are not recommended. Fencing is also important as it helps to keep sheep and goats inside the pen protecting them from predators. To add on, it is necessary to provide some form of shelter where the animals can escape weather elements. Sheep need shaded areas to escape the summer heat, while goats are not fond of rain and need somewhere to keep dry. As clearly indicated, goats and sheep can live together without any adverse effects on production, however provision of suitable living conditions is of the essence.

Grazing Sheep and Goats Together

Sheep and goats are both small ruminants and so there is concern on their daily interaction, particularly competition for forage. However, despite this concern, studies indicate that goats and sheep can live together and still reach maximum productivity. It has been proven that goats and sheep are quite complementary; they usually do not fight over forage. Goats are browsers, they prefer grass, bush, leaves, trees and shrubs. On the other hand, sheep are grazers and love grass as well as broad leaved plants. Therefore, competing for feed should be at the least of worries as it highly unlikely.

Nonetheless, it is of the utmost importance to consider the mineral requirements. Goats and sheep require supplements in order to acquire sufficient rations of necessary nutrients thereby allowing for improved productivity. Failure to do so exposes both animal species to a range of diseases and infections that they may never fully recover from. Note that even though goats and sheep can live together successfully when provided with sufficient minerals, their requirements differ and so great care must be practised. Goats generally require copper supplements while too much copper can be fatal for sheep. Sheep acquire most of their mineral requirements through foraging. As such, despite sharing the same grazing area, it may be necessary to separate their feed as well as feeding locations. This is done to ensure that sheep do not mistakenly consume copper supplements.

Why Farmers Separate Sheep from Goats

Sheep and goats can live together, however there are concerns hence some farmers to separate sheep from goats. When keeping sheep and goats together, there are chances of cross breeding. For this reason, caution should be taken to ensure that this does not occur. Cross breeds of sheep and goats produces geeps that often die at birth or are infertile. Although goats have 60 chromosomes and sheep have 54, mating is possible, though rare. In order to prevent this from occurring, rams and bucks ought to be separated from the herd during breeding season. Another concern that arises from keeping goats and sheep together is the possibility of injury. Most goats have horns whilst some sheep have none and so there is risk. As social animals that compete for a spot in the herd or flock, care should be practised when keeping horned animals with polled animals. It is therefore best to remove their horns. Disbudding, or removing horns, can help reduce the risk of serious injury to sheep. It is therefore advisable to confine lambs and kids to separate pens with their mothers to avoid injury risk from older sheep and goats. Another reason why farmers separate sheep from goats is that it is generally an easier farming practise even though it requires heavy investment in terms of money and resources.

What Animals Do Goats Get Along With?

Goats are considered as social animals therefore are able to get along with most domestic animals. Although sheep and goats can live together successfully, goats can also get along with other animals including cows, horses as well as donkeys. In fact, experts state that goats can get along with cats and dogs. However, it is not advisable to keep goats with hunting dogs as they are occasionally known to prey on small ruminants. Care should also be practised when keeping goats with donkeys. This is because some donkeys have been known injure and kill goats, though in rare and tragic instances. Goats can also share an outdoor space with birds such as chickens, turkeys, geese, and ducks, provided that all species have their specific needs taken care of. Younger goats are however more playful therefore might cause injury to birds. Sheep can also live together with other animals. Similar to goats, sheep and other sanctuary mammals such as cows, pigs, llamas, alpacas, and horses can live harmoniously on the same pasture and do not tend to bother one another.