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Can You Keep Sheep and Goats Together?
If you have a small farm with a few acres of land, you might wonder if you can keep sheep and goats together. The answer is yes, sheep and goats can live together. You can keep both of these foraging animals together, but there are some things to consider. Keep reading while we discuss if these animals get along and any safety measures you should take to keep the animals out of danger. We’ll also discuss the differences between them and what you will need to do to help them live comfortably with one another.
Is It Possible to Keep Goats and Sheep Together?
Goats and sheep are both docile animals that are unlikely to get aggressive toward each other, especially if you only have a small flock. However, both animals have social structures that cause them to compete for spots in the herd. Sometimes a sheep will get confused and compete for a spot with the goats or vice versa. This competition can cause some aggression to occur, and it happens more often when you have lots of animals. Most experts recommend only keeping animals without horns, so there is no risk of injury.
Both the sheep and the goat can graze on the same land and they conveniently tend to eat many plants that the other does not like, so they make an excellent tool for land management. They will not need to compete for food and will hardly notice the other is there—at least from a foraging standpoint.
One of the biggest dangers of keeping sheep and goats together is nutrition. Both animals will require vitamin and mineral supplementation, but the goat requires a diet high in copper while sheep are susceptible to a copper overdose. Most farmers get around this problem by building a small structure on the land that the goats can climb onto to receive their copper supplement. Sheep cannot climb, making this an easy way to separate copper supplements.
Both the goat and the sheep require similar housing and will often share the same space. These animals prefer a three-sided shelter, and your sheep will use it on hot days as a retreat from the sun, while the goats will seek shelter from rain and cold weather.
The type of fencing you need for sheep is different than for goats. Sheep do not tend to wander off, and your fence is there to keep predators out as much as it is to keep the sheep inside. However, goats are natural explorers and can easily escape from a fence made for a sheep, so if you are introducing goats to your sheep, you will need to upgrade your fence to keep out these crafty animals.
A second reason to avoid keeping large numbers of goats and sheep together is that they can transmit disease and parasites to each other easily. Rotating grazing areas and deworming the animals can help reduce the risk of disease. Getting all vaccinations and only bringing healthy animals to your farm is also critical.
You will need to have plenty of dry land for your animals because both goats and sheep are susceptible to hoof rot. Hoof rot is when too much moisture is in the ground, and the hoof begins to deteriorate. Sheep are also more prone to internal parasites.
While interbreeding is unlikely, it can happen, especially if you have a lot of animals. Interbreeding between the goat and the sheep will result in a geep. A geep usually does not have a long lifespan and often dies at birth. Isolating the animals during the breeding season can eliminate the risk of interbreeding and cut down on aggression that can happen during this time.
Do I Want to Keep Goats and Sheep?
Many farmers don’t keep goats and sheep because they both perform a similar function of giving milk and clearing land. However, they get along and eat different plants, so there are very few problems between them, and they can efficiently manage the land. They will share the same housing and will eat from the same hay bail, but you will need to reinforce the fence to keep the goats inside and build a small structure only goats can climb to get to their copper supplement. If you are using these animals for milk, you may need to do a considerable amount of milking since many animals will need milking twice per day.
If you already own sheep or goats and someone is offering a good deal on the other, you can be sure these animals will live together peacefully. We recommend purchasing animals without horns, but they rarely get aggressive. If you have experience with woodworking, it won’t be difficult to build a high spot to hide the copper supplements for your goat, and they will return the favor by protecting your sheep from predators.
We hope you have enjoyed reading over this guide and learned something new. If we have helped you feel better about keeping both of these animals on your land, please share this guide to keeping sheep and goats together on Facebook and Twitter.
Feaured Image Credit: Piqsels
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.