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Old 05-19-2014, 10:25 AM
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Default Tell me about keeping goats and chickens together



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Share your experiences with keeping goats and chickens in the same building and same field.

My wife and I are getting ready to build a new chicken house and chicken yard. The field will be 200 feet long, 100 feet wide on the back end and about 175 feet wide on the front end.

The main reason why I want some goats is for milk, and to help keep control the underbrush. There is a small run off creek next to the proposed new chicken yard. Brush has pretty much taken over the area around the creek.

The goats and the chickens will share the same yard and the same building. The building is going to be 18 x 20 with a lean-to on the side.

For those experienced goat farmers, do you find certain breeds more aggressive than others? I do not want a mean or aggressive goat. I need something that will be good with the grandkids. And honestly, if a goat gets mean, it will probably find its way to the bar-b-que pit.

I am thinking 3, maybe 4 goats.

In this same yard I am going to have around 30 - 40 chickens.

How well do goats free range? If I let them out will they go back to the barn?

If I let the chickens out free range they will go back to the house at the end of the day. Will goats do the same thing? Or if I let them out will I have to go get them at the end of the day?
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Old 05-20-2014, 08:23 AM
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For about 5 years we had goats in a couple acres of woodlot. We let our chickens freerange with them. They got along well together.

I liked that the goats eat trees, and chickens eat goat droppings. To me it was trees being converted into eggs.

The immediate problem for us, was that the chickens made nests under logs out in the forest. So it became a daily hunt to find the clutches of eggs.

I know that every authority will tell you, each chicken has a maximum capability to produce eggs, and you can not exceed that quantity. But, it did seem to us that by scratching in the forest floor, and eating the frogs, salamanders, newts that we got more eggs, than is otherwise possible from commercial egg layer feed mixes. I routinely discovered clutches of eggs that had been abandoned.

The long term problem for us, was predators. Between; eagle, hawk and fox, we lost a lot of chickens by free-ranging them.
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Old 05-20-2014, 08:50 AM
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We have had goats and chickens for eighteen years, free-ranging, and they do fine together.

If you have a well-appointed chicken-house, with nice nests and roosts, and feed the chickens there (we feed only whole corn, and occasional scraps), the chickens will mostly hang around, and nest and roost there. If they find attractive alternative places, like a barn, or under your house, some may eventually adopt these places as their headquarters. A consistent trapping program, or vigilant children with .22's, is important to control predation.

I have never seen a chicken eat a goat-berry.

Goats are territorial, and hierarchical. Keepjng them inside or outside a fence is a real challenge. They will clear out blackberries and multiflora roses, also apple and nut trees. They are highly social, and aware. They think of you and your children as more goats....so they will want to fit you into their hierarchy or "pecking order". Their sociality is a strong as the dog's but quite different in character. A dog wants love and cooperation, a goat wants to be on top, and will try to get there by butting you, or by eating your favorite tree (and wondering why you did not eat it yourself).

So I would not expect any but rare goats to be gentle with children, as good dogs are. My children are all vigorously taught to be always kind and gentle with animals, never to scare them, However my small children go into the areas frequented by the goats armed with their own "horns", a stick, and with instructions that if a goat crowds or threatens them, they are to give it a good whack. This is not cruel or gratuitously violent, it is merely how the goats establish among themselves their pecking order, and after a few instances of this, the goats learn that MY kids are not to be pushed around, and peace ensues.

Goats will come at a run if they think you have some food for them. So will chickens. So getting them to "come in" is not a problem.

si vis pacem, para bellum.
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Old 05-20-2014, 09:14 AM
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I kept goats and chickens together, they seem to get along and even enjoy the company.

I no longer have goats, even though I really like them. I don't know if mine were picky because I fed them too much, but they did NOT eat underbrush like I had heard. They did destroy two 100 year old Catalpa trees by eating the bark 6ft up. Even though we surrounded one with fence, they climbed up the fence and chewed above it.

The only way I would have goats again is if I could fence in the 10 acre field behind my house. There are no trees to be destroyed.
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Old 05-20-2014, 09:17 AM
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Get along fine. Chickens like going for goat rides from time to time...
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Old 05-21-2014, 09:06 PM
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I used to keep two goats in my chicken pen. One was a stubborn old Nubian doe. One day when I went in one of our dogs snuck in. I did not know it until the dog came flying by to bounce off the barn wall. All the dogs soon learned they did not have any business near the chicken pen. I really think the goat was the reason we did not have much trouble with predators.
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Old 05-25-2014, 12:54 AM
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I have 2 mini-Nubians and about 30 chickens. The goats are very friendly and try to play with us and this might be a bit much for small children but they are not at all agressive. Might have to do with the fact that we bottle fed them as kids. The goats ignore the chickens, and the chickens get out of their way or else they'll get stepped on. Sometimes they don't get out of the way fast enough. So sometimes they get squished toes.

I also believe that we might have some protection from smaller predators with the goats.
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Old 05-27-2014, 07:37 PM
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If you're going to bulk-feed / free choice / supplement your chickens, be aware that goats will happily eat themselves sick on it in no time flat, resulting in squirts and possibly bloat, so make sure to keep the coop door too small for them to squeeze in to. They can share water with no problem, though.

One of the tricks we use for when it gets hot and the big doors have to stay open for ventilation is to stand a pallet up in the doorway. Unless the slats are waaay too close, even the roosters can squeeze through. Make sure to fence off the top and stake it all in place, (2 t-posts on the inside outer edges of the pallet work great) or the goats will go over, around, or push through. Darn things seem to live by the maxim "If its on the other side of the fence, its always better", and need to climb.

Edited to add: I don't know your level of prior experience, but my gut tells me that 30-40 chickens is a lot to take on at once. Probably spend a good bit for feed, unless you're free-ranging them on a grasshopper gold mine. Either way, prepare to be overwhelmed with eggs.
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Old 05-28-2014, 02:38 AM
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Can't speak to chickens and goats specifically. However, as long as one isn't a predater andthe other lunch, most animals will become accustomed to each other and actually integrate into a social structure.

My personal story is that I had a chain link dog run ( 6 foot high ) that I kept geese in, attached to one side was a cow panel corral. I had a bucket calf in the cow panels until it got big enough to be safe from the coyotes. When the time come to introduce the calf to the rest of the herd I took it down to one of the regular corrals a quarter mile away. I turned the geese out into the cattle panel part to clean up and went out to the feild. When I got home all the geese were gone, no sign of them anywhere. When I went down to the corrals for evening chores, there were the geese in the corral with the calf. go figure.
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