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Livestock breeds and co-housing

 
Athena Parker
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Hello! Last year we raised several khatahdin sheep and some poultry and are looking to expand this year. We have a great housing system for our chickens and guinea hens in our orchard and are building a fenced field area with several paddocks for livestock. We are going to have to build a barn if we get more livestock---currently we are thinking about getting a few sheep, a few goats, and a few guinea hogs. My question is whether you all know of specific breeds of livestock that do better living together in a barn? We are hoping to build one structure for them all and would like to have animals that can get along. We are open to having separate pens in the barn but would want all the animals in the same grazing area. We would also like animals that tend to be pretty good foragers!

Just for your reference we are located in Central Virginia.

Thanks for feedback in advance,
 
Jack Edmondson
Posts: 233
Location: Central Texas zone 8a, 800 chill hours 28 blessed inches of rain
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Anything housed with Hogs will starve and/or be eaten. They are master foragers. They will out compete their pen mates, unless there is lots of space for all. However, the hogs will find the high value forage first; "and...its gone." They also tend to destroy what they don't eat getting to the stuff they do eat. They should probably get their own space.

Sheep and goats don't compete much and should be compatible. Sheep prefer grass and goats forbs.

Have you listened to Mark Shepard's system of rotational grazing in an orchard? That may be a better approach. Same space. Different time frames. Short duration/cycle each animal type. It works much better than constant exposure.
 
Katy Whitby-last
Posts: 280
Location: North East Scotland
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forest garden goat trees
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Jack Edmondson wrote:

Sheep and goats don't compete much and should be compatible. Sheep prefer grass and goats forbs.



We sometimes have some of our sheep in the same area as our goats (over winter when I need them all nearby to make things easier for me) and I have found that the matriarch of the goat herd can be quite forceful with the sheep near the hay feeders. She is disbudded so can't do more then slam into them but if she was horned I wouldn't keep them together. When the matriarch isn't there (when she's in the maternity pen) the next goat down in the hierarchy does the same thing.
 
Miranda Converse
Posts: 239
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If you do keep sheep and goats together, keep in mind that goats need copper and copper is bad for sheep. You will have to find some way to supplement the goats. You could do this by feeding them separately, providing a mineral supplement specifically for the goats, or copper bolusing (sp?). Even if you don't have sheep, I recommend copper bolusing. It helps them fight parasites and gives them a nice shiny coat. Other than that it seems like they have very similar requirements.

I have also heard of keeping a donkey with goats as a livestock guardian so I would imagine they get along fine. Same thing with llamas/alpacas.

I know you are asking about larger animals but I have successfully kept different types of fowl together that most people would recommend against with no issues. My peafowl lived with my ducks until they were old enough to free range. Now my peacock is protective of the ducks. I also kept some chickens and ducks together until their coop was finished. I think all three were together at one point. They were all very young when we put them together and they had plenty of space so they never fought with each other. I guess my point is that, I believe if you get any animals together young enough, they will bond or at least tolerate each other. When those animals start having babies, the older ones leave them alone because they don't see them as foreign.

Another thing to consider, if you are setting up a paddock system, you can always keep them in separate paddocks. Let the goats and sheep through one paddock first, then follow with the hogs so they don't get the good stuff first. Then follow them with the chickens who will scratch and break up any droppings and till into the soil.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/cards
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