We have 10 acres of land, almost half treed, that has no fences or anything on it yet so it's a clean slate. I'm trying to think of how best to divide it up. So far, all we have is chickens, but I'd like eventually to have a milk cow, her calves as we fatten them for eating, a couple pigs and a horse or two. That seems like a lot to squeeze in on only 5 or so acres of pasture, so I'm wondering if any of them can share.
Hi newtothis, I would be very cautious about keeping pigs with cows or any other animals for that matter.
You have to remember that pigs in a pasture will 'rootle' and plough up the ground making it unsuitable for grazing and if they have piglets around will attack anything they consider a threat. Boars by their very nature cannot be kept with each other let alone other animals so they also need their own place. You really need to keep them separate and use nose-rings to stop them digging up your land. Or as an alternative why not fence-off and let them use the wooded area in which they will thrive. Provided there are a good cross-section of tree species you could keep some of the more 'exotic' species like 'wild boar' [although in the UK you would need a special certificate for them] but it would certainly provide some regular good tasting food for your family and help an otherwise useless area pay it's way.
Cows and sheep will go together quite happily but again exceptions are when your cows have calves at foot.
I've seen horses kept with cows on Exmoor but there they have many acres to avoid each other in, how they would do in a smaller area I'm unable to comment.
I also know that you cannot keep horses with sheep in the same field as a place I once worked at had one of their ewes escape into the horses area and all 5 horses then attacked the poor ewe who had to be rescued by landrover !
I applaud your ideas but would advise you to work out exactly how much grazing land you will have and then allocate and fence it accordingly. Here in the UK we use 'Livestock units', for example 1 cow per acre etc. It will also depend on the types/varieties of grass/clover you have growing as to how you allocate for each species and remember that if you will have different species using the same land you will need to implement a rigorous worming plan to prevent contamination of pasture.
Good luck ! Jon
Last Edit: Jul 24, 2009 6:35:57 GMT -5 by joncowcare
Sharing by species isn't a "never or always" proposition. It depends very much on the individual animals involved.
Right now, my horses and cattle are pastured together. They don't love each other, but they don't bother each other. Sometimes they are all together mingled, and sometimes the horses are in one corner and cows in another. They've known each other are both here for years, and for a couple of months, the steers were in a pen adjoining the pasture, so it was no surprise when I turned them out.
Now a year ago, I boarded some sheep. They were in a pen that the horses could not see. One day, they got out into the pasture, and the horses ran them off with ears pinned and teeth bared.
I have had horses that anytime they were in proximity of a bovine, thought they should be moving it. A horse like that wouldn't contribute to peace and gain in with cows.
Pepper-Angus/Dexter/Jersey 7 yr Mocha (aka Crazy Cow) 6 yr Eva Holstein 6 yr Maggie - HoJo 5 yr Chloe - Jersey/Dexter 5 yr Brie - Jersey - 4 yr Holly - Ho/Angus 2 yr
Post by hazelsmilker on Jul 26, 2009 15:23:49 GMT -5
The answer is: it depends on the individual animals, their ages, their habits, and your set-up.
Recently someone on the board had one or more pigs pastured with their milk cow and some milk stealing was going on. You probably don't want that; besides losing your milk, your cow could have teats injured or come down with mastitis. You really don't want a calving cow accessible to pigs at all.
However last year I pastured my young Jersey feeder steer and my feeder pig together. They were best buddies. The pig did come up lame for a bit. We suspect the steer may have stepped on the pig, or perhaps ridden her a bit hard. (Despite being a steer, he liked to try to mount everything.) We separated them for a couple weeks while she healed. I did have the pig's feeder where the steer couldn't reach it. I think this worked because both animals were young and otherwise solitary.
This year I have a little Jersey heifer and 2 feeder pigs which I'm intending to keep separate. However these are the naughtiest pair of gilts I have encountered. They don't seem to believe in fences, and want to snuggle with the heifer. Sigh. I spent hours this weekend adding pig containment devices aka boards and electric tape along the fenceline. I have my fingers crossed that they will be in their own pasture at supper time tonight.
Hi all, I was very interested to hear other folks views and experiences on this subject especially where cows and horses together are concerned. As I mentioned I've seen them together where a large space was involved but to know they will do fine when in closer proximity is something else learned here !
I think in the final analysis the comments about it being down to the individual animals concerned seems to be the wisest point of view.
To hear the experience Wyomama had with her horses and sheep which loosely echo my own makes me wonder if any other members have experienced this problem, do horses have a congenital hatred for sheep and if so why I wonder ?
I was also interested to hear about the pigs stealing milk from the cows, members might be intrigued to know that this is also an attribute given to badgers in some areas of the UK and as a result they are blamed for the spread of TB. There is no doubt that there is some cross-contamination, badgers often use the same fields as cows but as for them actually suckling and spreading TB that way I remain to be convinced. I'd be keen to hear any members views on this ! There was a large scale badger cull a while back over here by the 'Ministry of Agric' to try and keep the rate of TB down but as far as I'm aware this has not really had much success. [good, hopefully these lovely creatures will be left alone now !] I recall as a kid a story that badgers were supposed to bewitch cows by dancing in front of them and then when the cow was lying down [usually cudding] would leap in and suckle. Badgers eh . . . ?!
Hey there, New! Welcome to the KFC!!! We've all been new to this at one point or another, so don't feel alone. My family and I have 40 acres, half in pastures and half in woods, and have been homesteading for a couple of years now. We've tightened our 5 strand barbed wire perimeter fencing, but plan to shift it over to woven wire and electric. We use temporary electric fencing to subdivide our pastures for rotational grazing. This method attempts to recreate a very natural pulsed rotation, as would have happened when the buffalo passed through, followed by deer, wild boar, birds and other wild beasts. Our herd of rare breed cattle has grown to 18 now, plus 18 pigs (15 are piglets), 3 sheep, and assorted rare breed poultry. We've learned a ton, are having a blast, and realize that we are on a huge family adventure. Welcome to the fun!
So...I agree...multi-species grazing probably depends greatly on the breeds and the individual animals involved. Even if you find that you can't run them all in one pasture, you can rotate them through successively. For example, the sheep could go through first, grazing off the grass tips, and many weeds unpalatable to cows. Sheep and goat parasites tend to live lower down on the plant, so grazing the tips keeps the sheep away from danger. Then the cows could come through, a day later (to avoid some parasite that can bother cows). They'll graze down a bit harder, but they aren't affected by sheep parasites, and so they cleans the pasture for the sheep. The pigs could come in behind the cows, eating up any acorns (which are poisonous to cows), and eating not only weed seeds and grazing grass and crawfish, but also rootling through cow pies, which gives them access to many minerals. They, in their turn, are not bothered by cow or sheep parasites, and clear the pastures for those species. Finally, you could wait a few days and then bring chickens through. They would peck through any manure for hatching fly larvae, clearing the pasture of that problem! Then...a month of regrowth, or how ever long is needed to let the grass recuperate. The sunshine is a disinfectant, all on it's own. By the time the sheep come back through, the grass should have regrown, and any parasites they left in their last rotation should have been thoroughly eaten up and destroyed, leaving the pasture clean and safe for them, and each other species in their turn!
If you want my advice, I'd research rotational grazing, and put a stout woven wire and electric fence around your property's perimeter that's horse high, bull tough and pig stout. Then, I'd use temporary electric fencing (Premier1 has some great folks on their help desk) and hoses connected up to portable water troughs to make small paddocks for rotational grazing. The size of the paddocks will vary according to how strongly the grass is growing through the seasons, as well as how many animals you have.
Lol...Hazelsmilker, I remember that photo of the pig suckling the cow, days before he was headed to "freezer camp"! Personally, we've run our pair of Red Wattle gilts with the cows, periodically. The cows were startled by the pigs, at first, and the pigs seemed to get all kinds of jollies from sneaking up on them! lol. But after the initial surprise wore off, everyone settled in to graze peacefully together. Then, earlier this Spring, we had some of the calves in the herd haltered and dragging a rope for some initial lead training. The pigs decided to nibble on the calves' ropes, and then they just flat picked the ropes up and took the calves for walks! That was one of those times that I sure wished that I'd had a camera!!! Anyway, we haven't consistently left them all together for long periods, but we have let the pigs out for the day with the cows, to their mutual enjoyment.
Oh, about the Jon's "rootling", various breeds of pig tend to have greater or lesser tendencies to root. Red Wattles are noted for not tending to root much, esp. when the ground is dry. From our experience, and per Walter Jeffries' (http://sugarmtnfarm.com/blog/) experiences as recorded in his blog, we've noticed that pigs tend to root in direct proportion to the size of their paddock. The smaller their space, the more they root...the larger the paddock, the less they root. He keeps his herd in large paddocks, and if they root, it's only an inch or two into the soil and easily healed. His pasture looks grazed off, from the photos, as if he had run cattle through there. We've watched our pigs delicately stripping seeds off the grass, grazing like the cows, or digging up crawfish, flipping them in the air and chomping down on their tails to leave the pinchy bits on the ground! lol.
So...Good luck, New...check in here often, as there are loads of wonderful and wise folks on this forum, and do keep us up to date with how you are getting along, ok?
P.S. I love horses, and would LOVE to have a pair for the kids to play with, but they are a luxury. The fact is my DH has lost his job, we are nearly self-sufficient here on the farm, but there's not much left over for anything extra...and horses are notorious Hay Burners. So, if you want my $.02, I'd wait on the horses until you have everything else figured out.
Last Edit: Jul 28, 2009 23:33:55 GMT -5 by catherine
Hi Catherine, What a lovely post and one I really enjoyed reading, a real shame you have no photos of the pig/cow walkies ! I loved hearing of your experiences with the various breeds and like the rotational grazing idea, I'd go along with your rootling experience on large pastures too, space is not something many farms here in the UK have so I can only base my experience on them. Sounds like you have the ideal set-up, please write in again you write a great letter ! Jon
We had a pig in with our Holstein (when we had the Holstein) and she trampled the pig. It wasn't a huge area they were in, though, so the close-ish quarters might have contributed to that.
I don't have any first-hand experience with cows and horses but I know that a lot of people pasture the two together in this area. Usually there is a large predominance of one species and then just one or two of the other but the pastures don't seem terribly large.
Mama of four homeschooled kiddos
Milkmaid to Roselle and Lucy, my lovely Jersey cows Also: William, Lucy's bull calf Natasha, Roman, and Sadie, working dogs Romeo Blue the llama meat and laying chickens, other poultry, and pigs
Hi Sasha, Your mention of the cow trampling the pig reminded me of a place I worked at which had two of the most aggressive geese I've even seen. After several attacks from them, always first thing in the morning when I least expected it and which resulted in several lumps out of my arms I'd had enough and so decided to make a pen for them. Come the morning to move them I could not find them and so went to get the cows in for milking. Oh dear . . . I walked the field rounding the girls up and found the remains of two white geese like shapes that had been firmly trodden into the soil, there was not even enough of them left for a good meal. I met up with the 'wifey' after milking who informed me that one of the geese had had a go at one of the cows and they had all taken action which she had watched from the window. I never did find out why she did nothing but geese never showed up again during my stay there. I had to really fight back the tears honest . . . Jon
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