Have you heard about people that keep their horses with goats? The idea may seem farfetched if you have never seen it in person, but it happens more often than you think. Goats are even recommended by many horse owners as the ideal companion animal for horses, but is it true?
Do horses and goats get along? Well, the honest answer is yes and no! It all depends entirely on the specific animals and how they respond to one another. Each situation varies, and it really depends on a number of factors including animal size, gender, personality and sometimes just pure luck.
Horses are notoriously social animals and they typically enjoy having company, even if it isn’t other horses. There are a few precautions horse owners should take if they decide to add a goat or goats to their pasture, but if you have an open mind and a friendly horse, a goat may just become its new best friend.
Do Horses Like Goats?
Horses often do like goats, but friendship may take some time. If your horse has never seen a goat before, it may take a while for them to get used to them.
It is a good idea to keep the animals separated by a fence for at least a week or two to see how they respond to one another. More often than not, female goats tend to be more friendly and get along better with a horse than a buck or even a wether (a male goat that has been castrated) will. (source)
Do Goats Help Keep Horses Calm?
If your horse gets along with the goat or goats that they are pastured with, then the companionship can help keep your horse calm. Horses, along with goats, are herd animals and enjoy the company of other friendly animals.
While some horses naturally are calm even when they are alone, others tend to develop vices due to their boredom and anxiety. A goat companion can help deter bad habits by keeping lonely and bored horses occupied. (source)
Is A Goat An Equine?
Horses are members of the equine family, but goats are not. Goats are members of the caprine subfamily of the Bovidae family. They do share a number of characteristics with horses including hooved feet and grazing pastures for food. (source)
Do Horses Get Lonely?
Horses, being herd animals by nature, tend to be the happiest when they are around other animals. If they are alone in a pasture or barn, horses have a tendency to become lonely, despite your best efforts to keep them company.
Horses need social interaction with other animals to keep their minds and bodies stimulated.
Is A Goat The Best Companion For A Horse?
Several non-equine animals can be good companions for horses including cows, donkeys, goats and even dogs. The best companion for a horse depends entirely on the horse and the goat in question. The right goat can be the best companion for your horse if the situation works.
What Breeds Of Goats Are Best To Put With A Horse?
Goats come in many shapes and sizes. Finding the best one to be a companion for your horse can be difficult.
First, you will want to stick with a full-size goat. Some goat breeds like the pygmy and Nigerian dwarf goat can be a little too small to safely live with a horse.
Nubian, Boer, Lamancha, Saanen, and Kiko goats are bigger and can maneuver more safely around horses than smaller goats.
Fainting goats are not ideal due to their tendency to fall over when startled, which can be dangerous if it happens around a horse.
Are Horned Goats Dangerous Around Horses?
Horned goats can be dangerous around a horse if they are aggressive. If a horse and a goat get along well, the horns will not be a problem. If they do not get along, however, then the horns may be an accident waiting to happen.
Therefore, it is a good idea to make sure the animals get along before you leave them alone together. If they do not like each other, separate them immediately and do not just assume that the aggression will subside.
Can Horses And Goats Eat The Same Food?
The hardest part of having a goat as a companion for your horse is the feeding situation. Fortunately, goats and horses can both eat grass and hay safely. Horses need high quality, dry, and mold-free hay. Goats are perfectly fine eating horse quality hay.
However, goats and horses should not eat the same grain feed. Some animal owners may use an all-stock feed for all of their farm animals since it is usually safe for goats, cows, and horses. Just because they can eat all-stock feed, it does not mean that it is healthy for them.
Horses and goats have specific nutritional needs that vary from one another. Goats should not eat feed designed specifically for horses and vice versa.
If you are feeding your animals a grain feed, you will need to be able to separate the goats and horses at feeding time.
Things To Watch For
1. Separate The Animals If They Become Aggressive
If, at any time, your horse and goat become aggressive to each other, separate them immediately. Usually, once horses and goats become friendly with one another, they are fine, however, if you add another animal, there may be issues that disrupt the normally friendly dynamic.
2. Watch Out For Tail Chewing
Some goats have been known to chew on the tails of horses. Goats are notorious for eating odd things and horse tails can be appealing to some of them. If you notice this happening, you should remove the goat from the enclosure with the horse as soon as possible.
3. Beware Of Overeating
This is another good reason to separate the animals at feeding time. If you feed the animals all-stock feed together, there is a good chance that the horse, or especially the goat, could over eat. Once they finish their own portion of feed, they may move on to share with the horse.
4. Make Sure Your Fence Is Goat-Safe
Goats are known to be extremely skilled at escaping fence enclosures. If the fence is not designed for a goat, they can easily get out by squeezing through barbed wire, small holes, and even climbing the fence.
While rail fencing, electric rope, or electric wire fence may keep a horse in, they are often no match for a goat. There is woven wire fencing designed specifically for goats is the best choice for keeping them inside.
5. Be Careful Adding New Animals To The Mix
If your goats and horses are getting along well right now, be very cautious if you decide to add a new animal to the mix. A new horse, goat, or other animal may insight aggressive behavior in previously calm animals.
If you do add a new animal to the group, introduce them slowly by keeping them in a separate but connected pen. This way they can get used to each other and you can see if there are any noticeable issues. If they don’t get along with a fence between them, chances are they will not get along when put together.
Goats can be great companion animals for lonely horses. There is often no rhyme nor reason as to why certain animals get along with each other while others do not. Sometimes hormonal issues play a role, so it is safer to get a female goat as opposed to a male, however, there are exceptions to this rule.
Every situation is different and depends entirely on the animals at hand. The key is to be prepared, remain patient, introduce the animals slowly, and be extra cautious when adding new animals to the herd.