Mixing horses and sheep or goats?


9 Years
Jul 26, 2010
We've been talking about this to help manage our small pastures - and because we would like to have a pair of ewes.

Anyone ever heard/seen/done? Any sheep people want to weigh in?

I do believe I'd have to add a lower strand of electric, as well as a couple strands between the strands I have - that's ok.

Anything else? They wouldn't necessarily need to be in the pasture at the same time.


Flock Mistress
12 Years
Apr 20, 2007
Ontario, Canada
No horned animals around horses, get something polled or disbudded-at-birth-if-horned. (e.t.a. well obviously you CAN keep horned animals in with horses, but it is a bit of a kick-me sign and I am bearing in mind the sorts of horses Welsummerchicks is likely to be discussing here. I've seen some horrific injuries, not necessarily intentional just two animals moving the wrong way at the wrong time and now there is a face to suture up)

Two sheep are not real happy IME (I got my first two several weeks before the other three, and there was a very noticeable change in their behavior, like 'ah, finally we have sort of a flock') -- not to say it can't be done, but they seem to be happier as five or more.

The big thing is that sheep require different type fencing than horses, this has been a very "learn as you go" lesson for me
The two things sheep do that are a total non-issue with horses are they will headbutt the fence at sheep noggin level to see if they can make the fence go away by that means; and they will wedge themselves thru the fencing from underneath (even if it is woven wire all the way to the ground, they will WORK on that bottom edge til they can create enough slack to get through). Also they are BIG predator magnets, unlike horses. (Peoples' pet dogs included in the "predator" category).

Just running a few extra strands of electric is a riskier way to go from a sheep perspective, unless you are ok with them getting out sometimes and are willing to play predator roulette (although if you can lock them into an extremely secure night yard, that will help against 'natural' predators, tho not against loose dogs). Woven wire (like 4x4 small-stock mesh) is a lot better, and if there are places you expect they will test the fence, or if you SEE them testing the fence, add a row of boards just above the ground or a standoff electric wire at headbutting height.

However using woven wire is of course a little riskier from the *horse* perspective, as a horse wheeling or slipping while running against the fenceline can put a foot catastrophically thru the mesh, as you know.

IMO the ideal situation is 2x4 welded wire mesh along the bottom of the fence (with the aforementioned boards or wire-or-electric-twine added if there is any suggestion of sheep trying to break out). This is not the cheapest thing but is the safest for both species.

I've done most of my front paddock and driveway paddock in 2x4 wire (added to the existing 4-board wooden fencing, I mean) so that it can be dual use; but the wet paddock, which is only for occasional sheep use, I've just got the small-stock fencing on the board fence.

Another option that you might seriously consider is electronet. I would not use it where *goofy* horses were on the other side of it, because a horse skidding into it and getting tangled up would be A Bad Thing; but if you can close the paddock off, then a length or two or three of electronet can be used to run the sheep safely in there without having to make any structural changes to the "real" fencing. You do need to get the grass scalped way down to the ground along the fenceline and keep it that way, and when the mfr's say you "may" need extra posts nad tiebacks "in windy locations", my experience is that they mean "you had BETTER use extra posts and tiebacks, period"
but that is quite easy to do.

Actually I think if I had a better fence charger <g> and had it to do over again, I would probably go with the electronet-within-normal-horse-fencing option, rather than trying to sheepproof any of the horse fencing. Or maybe only sheepproof enough for their winter needs (electronet is useless in snow).

I can't give any direct advice on whether to allow them together. It depends. My ram escaped into the horse paddock a couple times (see above re: learning curve about sheep =/= horses w/r/t fencing) and they made him *miserable*, running him all around, even my exceedingly creaky and sorefooted senior TB was playing cutting-horse with the poor guy; and I know people in Britain with various amusing stories about horses that enjoy picking smaller sheep up with their teeth (in the wool) and carrying them around. OTOH I know there are a bunch of people who *do* have horses and sheep pastured together so obviously it can be done.

Have to keep sheep from getting into horse feed or horse mineral blocks, sheep are highly intolerant of levels of copper that are normally supplied to all other livestock.

(edited because I forgot to say: I have been quite pleased with the job the sheep do on cleaning up the roughs and weeds left by the horses. They are not *as* good as mowing, but a lot less work, especially for non tractor owning non riding-mower owning people like me
I assume they do some good with parasite load too, but to me that's an incidental. Actually I *got* them for milk for cheesemaking, not *for* rotational grazing, but have been surprised and pleased how useful they are for the latter.)

(edited again to add: if you are non-vegetarian you might also consider that instead of a pair of ewes you could get a handful of 'feeder sheep' in the spring, let them manage your pastures for you til the grass goes away in teh fall, and then send them off to freezer camp. This way they do something useful for you in addition to lawnmowing, parasite load is not quite *as* much of an issue, and you don't have to feed and house them all winter, you just start over the next year with a new batch)

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10 Years
Nov 11, 2009
Alberta, Canada
We keep 2 goats with our horse. He is a single horse, and the goats are his friends. I think he really bonded to them. But just in case, the goats have a place to get away from the horse. I think it really depends on the horse.

And I just wanted to add, that our goats do have horns
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10 Years
Nov 8, 2009
I'm so glad you posted this question and I hope people keep chiming in! We've got two bottle baby sheep that will be sharing the pasture with our old horse and we are considering adding a goat or two and are worried how everyone will mingle.


11 Years
Apr 19, 2008
I agree with Prince,,it really depends on the horse,we have a couple horses that would be fine with them,,but I have a couple that will also kill a sheep or goat first chance they get..


11 Years
Sep 9, 2008
I have a horse that just LOVES the goats...and the other one hates them. I agree with the person who said it depends on the horse.



Emu Hugger
14 Years
Mar 10, 2008
a bumpy dirt road in Florida
My horses, mini horses, mini zebu cattle, sheep , goats, llama, emu and such have always run together with limited trouble........ but like suggested, it all depends on the temperament of the animals. My one goat does well with almost anything except the chickens and geese.... she likes to use them as bowling pins.


9 Years
Jul 26, 2010
Great posts and very appreciated!

Just for information - we aren't likely to add any animals unless one of the ones we have...ah...dies of old age. We've got an old horse that I think will not be with us forever. But I'm not in any rush. This sheep thing is just something I'm curious about.

I'm not sure that an end to mowing is what we seek...but...since you mentioned it, it sure sounds nice.

We DO have a hill that is very hard to mow, and I was thinking that the sheep would find it - not so hard to mow.

I have the feeling that NEITHER of my horses would EVER let a goat stand on them. That's just a feeling...LOL. One of them, the last time I saw him with a goat, the goat was sailing through the air going 'bleaaaaa!' like a scene from a Monty Python animation.

And I have a feeling that my sheep would be the most athletic sheep (or dead) in the world if they were in the pasture with my two.

I'm betting instead of one of those eden-like scenes, our farm would look more like that Christmas Critters episode on South Park with the devil animals with red eyes eviscerating each other.

The chickens seem to know. They NEVER go in the one horse's paddock, and they only take a brief short cut across a corner of the other horse's paddock. I've seen how that one looks at them...the chickens always walk past him with this, 'God, I wish he'd stop LOOKING at me that way, it makes me feel so....dead...' look.

However, my plan is to only have the horses on the pasture for a little while each day. They'll spend a few hours grazing and then come back to their paddocks. Then the Little Ewes can go out.

Otherwise, they are going to turn into foundering Jabba the Huts. Even the sheep will have have a schedule. My sheep raising friend already told me it was Endotoxemia Acres. It's just super lush. All our spring runoff. And then in August it is...not there.

Electro braid DOES provide a fence layout for sheep with their product. However, the electric lines are all live and are strung to start, only 6 inches from the ground, then 4 lines six inches apart, up to, I believe, 40 inches.

This has been tested and yes, actually, I've seen more than one study that it will indeed hold sheep. Very well, in fact.

My lines are 12 or 14 inches apart, so I'd be adding a bottom line and, um I think 2 others - our horse fence is 6' high; a top wooden plank has a wire in front of it so the top plank can't be used for a launch pad.

I'm also curious about gates, as - well - to me, the gate seems like a very natural sort of sheep exit path.

And to tell the truth I'm actually far more concerned about animals getting in than mine getting out.

For some mysterious reason, my property is where everyone seems to want to be. Must be that delicious, lovely, lightly grazed lush green pasture mix with all that alfalfa and clover. THAT part does look like eden, LOL.
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In the Brooder
10 Years
Sep 13, 2009
middle TN
I keep my ram with my horses which started out accidentally. It turned out better than I could have hoped for, and now when I have to move the ram any where I catch the horses and he just follows them where ever I need him to be. The horses are exceptionally gentle with him and very patient and tolerant, and he loves to stand under them and take advantage of their fly swatters. However as stated by several people already it depends on the sheep and the horses. A friend of mine had her ram get into a neighbors horse pasture and they kicked him which broke his jaw.

Half of my horse pasture is fenced with field fencing, and on the steep banks on the other side of the creek is fenced in barb wire. Not my favorite type of fencing for horses or for sheep, but we have been lucky so far. And neither horses nor sheep have had a desire to get out. (But as we will be out of town this weekend this is when my luck will probably run out!)

Fortunately my horses are old and mellow. And my sheep must also be mellower than some breeds as they have never given me problems with trying to escape or go through fences as I so often hear / read about people having. Durn, my luck is bound to run out now!!!


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