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Can sheep and horses live in same pasture?!

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by xoxosheep, Nov 21, 2013.

  1. xoxosheep

    xoxosheep Hatching

    Nov 14, 2013
    I have a four year Ewe names Sophia. She is a chunky girl who I am trying to help loose weight but it is difficult because she lives on a pasture alone at the moment. I am in the process of finding a place for her to stay coming this winter. I live within the city of Philadelphia and as much as I would like to have her in my backyard that is not a possibility. For one I do not own my backyard I am currently renting apartments. I live with my boyfriend who works downtown in Philadelphia at a restaurant. He is required to be at the store as early as 4:30 am to open the restaurant and has to be close. So at the moment until one of us finds another job we can not move outside of the city like we would like. But I have my sheep whom I care for. Currently she lives in Vilanova about 40mins outside the city. But the place is being sold and the owner would like me to find another place for her before the winter.

    I found a space that is even closer than where she is currently staying. I took Sophia there for a trial run and i don't think it went well. The owner has two small young ponies, one older horse, and three sheep. The ponies chased and snapped at Sophia the entire time. Chasing her into the older full size horse who then became annoyed and bit Sophia on the back. The three sheep seemed to live inside their stalls as to stay out of the way of the wild ponies. The sheep also were not fans of Sophia and stomped their feet and would not let Sophia take shelter with them from the ponies. Sophia is currently overweight ans twice the size of the three sheep. The entire time she tried to hide behind me and I was sending the ponies away. I tried to bring her and the other sheep together which is silly. I don't have very many options for spaces for Sophia. The woman who owns the property is the nicest lady in the world. I would be able to come see Sophia whenever I wanted as often as I could. I do worry that I would not be able to get close to her because the ponies would try to suck up all the attention.

    My question is should I have Sophia try this space out. I took her there about three different times with the same results but only for a couple hours at a time. Should I worry about her safety and increased stress levels. She grew up with two Boer goats from a lamb who were three times her size. They bullied her and one had a horn who would head butt her. She learned to headbutt but not generally people. Only me once when she thought straw was hay and I swear that annoyed her. I know I probably sound silly but she is really important to me. Also anyone who has any advice or other leads for possible spaces in the surrounding Philadelphia areas I would love the help. I have checked all surrounding sanctuaries, animals shelter, and dozens of other spaces. My clock is ticking with the change of the weather. I wish they had places to board sheep like they do for horses. Please help. Thank you farm friends.

    Tamara and Sophia xoxo

  2. chooks4life

    chooks4life Crowing

    Apr 8, 2013
    It's probably a good idea to invest in sheep panels or whatever they call them where you are, and make her a temporary movable separate paddock. If she's too fat, restriction to a less lush part of the pasture might help. The other sheep should come to accept her sooner or later but a pet is not often accepted completely by animals raised as livestock. If they can see her daily without being able to attack her they should develop some tolerance, much like introducing a new rooster to a flock with a rooster already present.

    If you have no options you'll have to take this one. I don't think it's silly that you're so attached to her, I've been in very similar situations. ;) In fact I've just gotten free of one such situation, having found a place that will take both me and my current orphan ewe lamb (Lucy).

    It's great that the lady owner sounds very nice and tolerant, so perhaps she would be ok with the idea of having a panel paddock set up. It won't be very big but can help in the interim. Sheep and horses can indeed be together but as you've seen, the biggest issue is generally that horses can be pretty territorial bullies.

    The other sheep also probably think your sheep is some kind of addled or diseased animal based on her very different behavior and smell (just going by my experiences of pets vs nonpets --- pets act and smell different and that's not something more naturally raised animals tolerate very well). To them, her appearance and behavior probably translates to 'disease'; after all she's not acting and smelling just like them so something is 'wrong'. So she is rejected because she's not normal by their standards.

    One orphan pet lamb I raised went on to gather and lead her own flock of runaway feral sheep, so it's obviously not impossible that she can assimilate with them and become accepted over time. She will observe them and adopt their behaviors and slowly start to look like one of them in their eyes, I'd bet. Sheep are a lot smarter on average than they're given credit for. But if she continues to fail to be accepted into the flock, I would get her healthy and fit ASAP and breed her when you think she's in good condition to be bred. Visit someone with a ram if you have to. The best solution for outcasts of species which crave company is often to breed the outcast so it starts its own family line. On that topic, getting her a male companion ought to help if all else fails. He probably won't reject her based on her strangeness; when she smells right to him there won't be any complaints.

    Also it sounds to me like the owner needs to do something better for her sheep so they're not hiding nonstop. That will indeed impact on their health, potentially fatally; as no doubt you know, and she would know, ruminants are designed to be roaming and eating roughage etc pretty much the majority of the day, every day... Being restricted too often can kill them. It will certainly weaken their digestive system which causes the life of the animal to be at higher risk.

    I've seen one large herd of horses which had one tiny pony in it, who wore a muzzle 24/7, so it could eat but not brutalize the other horses; it was so tiny it could hardly have reached their bellies to bite them, but having had a mini-horse before, I am familiar with their potential aggression towards bigger horses and the terror full-size horses can hold towards an equine so tiny. Our little mare would whinny when she saw a horse being ridden over a kilometer away and the horse would begin to act up in fright even though she was nowhere near them, and probably couldn't have done more than bite their knees and ankles.

    It may also be worth considering that the owner may be too nice; some people are too nice to manage their animal's violent tendencies. Even when an animal shows intent to maul something or someone, they still balk at the idea of muzzling them or restricting them. If the lady's this nice, in your estimation, best to look elsewhere. It certainly doesn't sound promising to me that she lets her sheep spend all day living in fear of the horses.

    I've also known of horses picking sheep/goats etc (other smaller animals) up by their fleeces/skins and smashing them into the ground, stomping on them, throwing them, etc until they kill them. It's not unheard of at all for a horse to be a sheep-killer. Sorry to be alarmist. If you weren't aware already, many horses naturally grow what are called 'wolf teeth' and these are specifically for biting flesh. People generally knock them out or otherwise remove them and some breeds no longer have them, but Mongolians and more primitive breeds do, and only recently it was common for even developed breeds like Clydesdales to have wolf teeth. They are as they sound: teeth like a wolf's, top and bottom jaws, near the front of the mouth, just behind the herbivore teeth. Horses are known to also enjoy killing and hunting. Not all horses, but it's good to remember that horses are a potentially very aggressive herbivore with battle-lust (I know this is a politically incorrect point of view but I do believe some animals and even some humans have a lot of fight in them and revel in battle, even fatal battles; having said that, I don't condone rooster/ dog/ horse/ whatever baiting or pit fights or anything like that). War horses used to be trained to use unicorn-horns attached to their face masks to impale and gore humans, and many other methods of inflicting the most damage possible using their natural 'tools'/ weapons or attachments.

    Aaaaaaanyway, I really do hope you find your place soon, with your sheep in tow. If you lived near me I'd offer to agist her for you, lol. But I'm in Australia. Best wishes.
  3. Peaches Lee

    Peaches Lee Songster

    Sep 19, 2010
    Honestly, I would not attempt to have my sheep at this place. I think the danger for Sophia will escalate and you will have a dead sheep. Horses can be bullies and are known to kill sheep/goats. Try looking somewhere else or build her a separate pen away from the horses at this place if you are able.
    1 person likes this.
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I'm thinking it's just like introducing a new chicken to a flock--she's just going to have a rough time of it at first and it will take a while for her to find her place. Introducing a new animal can always have issues, and every group has a pecking order that is strictly enforced with newbies. If you have no other option, she'll probably be fine. She'll be low man (maybe forever) and probably lose some weight from getting out of the way of the other animals. Nothing you said seemed really out of the ordinary to me for introducing a new animal to a mixed group.

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