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FarmGirl

Horses and cows living together

Is it alright to keep horses and cows together? Can they eat the same hay? I've read about horses not being able to eat the same quality hay that cows do...is this true and why?  Do cows eat the pasture differently from horses and will this cause a problem?

Do cows ever bother horses? Does anyone have any advice about barbed wire? Is it okay to keep it up and just put a strand of electric to keep the horses off (granted that you already know the horses respect electric)?

If able would you prefer to just put up a fence to keep the cows in one part and horses in another part or do you think that is too much effort? Does it matter if there is a whole herd of cows and only two or three horses?

I am just curious what you all think about this issue. I've seen lots of horses and cows together and just wondered how people work out the situation...
ElaineC

Where I'm from, everyone kept their cows with their horses.  Barbed wire is not a good mix with horses, so if you can put up some electric to keep them away from it, I would strongly suggest it.  Overall pasture, they should be fine.  Cattle are more tolerent of crappy hay than horses, which is why people generally don't give horses cattle hay, and horse hay is more expensive so why waste it on cows.  Cattle hay is often richer in alfalfa, so watch your horses with that as well.

If you're feeding mostly a grass hay with some protien, and its clean, not mouldy or dusty, you'll be just fine.  We used to feed 70% grass, 30% some kind of protien like alfalfa or clover without any problems, even 60/40 if we had to.  Some horses will chase and herd cows, esp if they are bred for it.
PasoBaby_CarolU

What Elaine said.  

On the ranch we always kept them separate.  My cow horses would herd the cows for fun.  OK unless you like to fatten your cows up.  Cows can hurt horses, but it is very rare for a cow to take on a horse.  Some bulls will charge horses.  

If they are on pasture together it is not to big a deal, plenty of feed and plenty of room to run around.   If you are feeding hay, the horses will chase the cows off the hay and they may not get enough to eat.

A big plus, you can feed cows all the moldy hay you won't feed your horses.
FarmGirl

What if one person owns the cows and one person the horses? Would you ask the person who owns the cows to just try to find better quality hay for the horses' benefit or would you just feed the horses separate?

Would horses actually eat the moldy or bad hay if you made sure good hay was available for them?

Elaine, you mentioned alfalfa hay... that is higher in energy content, correct?
ElaineC

Horses will eat crap if they have the chance, unfortunately.  Alfalfa has higher protein and energy, there's people on the board with good nutrition backgrounds that can fill you in on some of the pros and cons to that hay type better than I can.  If the cattle are being fed ok hay, the horses will probably be fine as well.
happycat

Pyrgirl

I am passionately against barbed wire.  In my short time owning horses (5 years) I've already seen too many injuries from the stuff. I wish they could outlaw it.   Put up an electric wire to keep the horses off of it.  don't even allow them in until you have that electic working.  Even if it's a huge pasture with lots of room to run.  We were in 35 acres.  Still lots of injuries.
Horseshoe Creek

We have over 300 head of cattle that we keep the horses separate from  because
a) the cows get the alfalfa and the horses get plain grass hay
b) the cow pastures have texas gates and I'm scared of horses trying to go over them and breaking a leg
c) the cows closer to home all get a pelleted feed supplement that will harm horses
d) my horses tend to want to pick up the calves by the neck or chase them for fun
e) I don't want to have to deal with sloppy cow poop in my pastures in the summer or frozen cow pies in the winter.

c) and d) are the main reasons.  Whether the horses chase the cows or not is one of those things you won't know until you know.

Chris
cheerios

Horseshoe Creek wrote:

b) the cow pastures have texas gates and I'm scared of horses trying to go over them and breaking a leg



What do you refer to as a Texas gate?



We've currently got 20 something horses turned out with 6 cows on 30ish acres. Everyone seems to get along fine, and the cows generally keep clear of the horses.
Horseshoe Creek

We refer to those open pipe/rail grates (for lack of a better term) that are embedded into the ground at fence openings as Texas gates.  I live in the middle of an oilfield and they are necessary so the oil guys can go in and check on the pumpjacks.

Chris
Ann

Pyrgirl

Thunder Hollow wrote:
Horseshoe Creek wrote:
We refer to those open pipe/rail grates (for lack of a better term) that are embedded into the ground at fence openings as Texas gates.  I live in the middle of an oilfield and they are necessary so the oil guys can go in and check on the pumpjacks.

Chris


Chris, we call those 'cattle guards.'

True story:  person calls information desk at the office.  Wants to know what color uniform the cattle guards wear.


   
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