Today we have a guest post by Liz Greene from Instant Lo.
For many homesteaders, sheep and goats are their first foray into the world of livestock. As with anything, it’s always cheaper and easier to kill two birds with one stone; therefore keeping sheep and goats together is a no brainer. Luckily, this is a fairly easy feat — just as long as a few precautions are followed.
Feel free to let your goats and sheep graze in the same pasture. The goats will browse on grass, brush, leaves, trees and shrubs, while the sheep graze on grass and broad leaved plants. It’s unlikely that you will ever see them compete for the same food.
Both animals require a good quality hay. An orchard grass mix is best for both species year round, although an alfalfa mix can be supplemented during lactation. However, it’s not recommended to give alfalfa to sheep and goats during the early stages of pregnancy. It can cause the kids/lambs to grow too fast inside the mother, leading to labor problems.
It’s crucial to keep the mineral needs of goats and sheep in mind when feeding. Goats require a copper supplement, whereas to sheep, copper is toxic*. You can solve this problem by feeding both species a general feed that does not contain copper, and supplementing the goats with a copper bolus.
*There are certain breeds of sheep — such as Icelandics and Shetlands — that actually require copper, much as goats do.
Shelter & Fencing
Shelter requirements for sheep and goats are generally the same. Both species require a three sided shelter, although a fully enclosed shelter will work as well. It should be able to keep them dry no matter what the season or the weather. Goats dislike getting wet, so you’ll see them using the shelter during the rainy season. Your sheep are more likely to seek shelter on hot summer days in order to stay cool.
Fencing needs to be sturdy as goats are infamous escape artists. Just as important as keeping the goats in is keeping predators out. Both woven wire and electric fencing work well for sheep, goats, and predator exclusion. If you choose an electric fence, a 4,000-5,000 volt charger will do the trick.
During breeding season, you’ll need to separate your animals into species specific herds. It is also recommended to keep bucks and rams apart when they are not being used for breeding. Rams are capable of seriously injuring bucks as they have stronger skulls. Since bucks rear up when head-butting and rams strike head-on, bucks can receive fatal blows to the abdomen.
Housing sheep and goats together is a relatively painless process, and can save quite a bit of money and space. Furthermore, both animals are delightful additions to any homestead, and are sure to bring you many benefits for years to come. Happy husbandry, my friends!
Liz Greene is an animal loving, history studying, pop culture geek from the beautiful City of Trees, Boise, Idaho. You can catch her latest misadventures on her blog, Instant Lo.
P.S. This post may be linked up with the following blog hops: Monday- The Art of Homemaking Mondays, Mostly Homemade Mondays, Tuesday- The Homestead Blog Hop, Wednesday- The Homemaking Party, Homestead Blog Hop, Thursday- Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop, Friday- From the Farm Hop, Awesome Life Friday, Saturday- Simply Natural Saturdays, Simple Saturdays.