1. Home
  2. Knowledge Base
  3. Animal Guides
  4. Goats
  5. How Goats Get Along With Other Species

How Goats Get Along With Other Species

A goat nuzzles with a sheep inside.
Panza enjoys some time with her sheep pal, Colvin! Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

Updated September 18, 2020

If you’re caring for goats with limited space, you may be wondering how they get along with other species of animals. Because individual animals each have their own unique personalities, preferences, and histories of trauma, this resource may not apply universally to all goats and the other species they interact with, but it should provide a good starting point in regards to how well a goat will get along with other animals. If you’re planning on keeping a goat with anyone new, regardless of species, make sure to carefully monitor their interactions until you are satisfied that there will be no trouble when you go off to attend to other sanctuary needs!

Headbutt Holdups

If you are caring for a goat who is prone to headbutt play, it is very important that you frequently monitor their interactions with any other animal you place them with; although headbutting is not typically done out of aggression, other species may feel very threatened or be endangered by such actions.

Goats And Other Goats

Typically, a goat should have no problem living with other goats (and in fact, this would be preferable to a goat living alone), provided that they have enough space, food, water, and mineral access so they don’t feel the need to compete. While any goat resident who is overly rough with their herdmates could cause injury, horned goats can cause dangerous gore wounds, so you must make sure any confrontations do not get too rough. Goats are inclined to follow a social hierarchy; once they’ve established who’s in charge (sometimes through a brief confrontational encounter), they will typically peacefully coexist.

Goats And Sheep

Goats can live with sheep on the same pasture, provided that they have ample space to avoid each other if they choose, with one major caveat: goats can eat minerals formulated for sheep, but sheep can not have access to minerals formulated for goats; minerals for goats have copper supplemented in them, and sheep are highly susceptible to copper toxicity. If you need to keep sheep and goats in a shared space with mineral access for both, you may have to carefully supplement the goats’ copper separate from the minerals both species receive. Some goats may be a bit too rambunctious for your sheep residents, and those with horns could cause injury if they are being too playful or are confrontational towards the sheep. If your sheep residents seems stressed by living with particular goats, you’ll need to find another living arrangement that keeps everyone safe and happy.

Protecting Bighorn Sheep Flocks

If you live in an area with bighorn sheep flocks, be aware that they can contract Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae from domestic goats. While the disease typically causes only minor illness in domestic goats, it can result in fatal pneumonia in bighorns. While domestic sheep appear to pose a far greater threat than goats in terms of contact resulting in fatal disease, steps should be taken to prevent any contact between domestic goats and bighorn sheep in order to protect bighorn flocks from potentially devastating disease outbreaks.

Goats And Donkeys

With goats and donkeys, how they do together is entirely dependent on the personalities at play. Some donkeys get along quite well with goats. Others, especially those rescued from abusive or neglectful situations, may be more territorial and defensive around all species, including goats. Always closely monitor the pasture and make a careful introduction between donkeys and goats, keeping in mind the possibility that they may need to live separately. In rare, tragic instances, donkeys have injured and killed goats.

Goats And Other Farmed Sanctuary Mammals

Goats and other sanctuary mammals such as cows, pigs, llamas, alpacas, and horses can live harmoniously on the same pasture and do not tend to bother one another (though some individual personalities might not mix, just like with anyone). You must ensure that any minerals used are safe for all species of resident who have access to them and may need to supplement some species separately. It’s also important to employ fencing that is appropriate and safe for all species being kept in the same pasture. If any of the goats have mobility impairments, you should ensure that they are not going to get caught in the path of a much larger species, such as a cow or pig! Pigs also may create terrain that is uneven and difficult for elderly or mobility impaired goats to navigate. Feeding schedules might be complicated to coordinate with certain residents such as large breed pigs, so even if you’re having everyone in the same pasture, you’ll probably want to keep them in separate living quarters!

Goats And Farmed Sanctuary Birds

Many goats should have no trouble sharing an outdoor space with birds such as chickens, turkeys, geese, and ducks, provided that all species have their specific needs taken care of (like dust baths accessible for chickens or turkeys or accessible ponds for ducks and geese), but some younger goats or more playful or rambunctious goats may be a bit too much for a bird resident and could inadvertently cause injury. Ensure that there is plenty of space to avoid any situations where a bird (especially a mobility impaired resident) might get caught underfoot from a goat. Goats are also (quite reasonably) particular eaters who will not eat pasture or food that has been defecated on by another animal, including birds, so if you’re going to keep goats and birds together, it would be preferable to find a solution to keeping the goat’s living spaces clean! If you choose to house chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, or other smaller bird species with goat residents, you will need to give special consideration to overnight accommodations. These avian species must be secured in predator-proof housing overnight, but it may not be advisable for the goat they are living with to be closed in with them. Some very docile goats may be fine, but those who are more playful could inadvertently cause injury to a bird resident. You do not want to create a situation where a sleeping bird resident, especially someone who may be sleeping closer to the ground, is injured by a goat they cannot get away from. In general, it is safest to give the bird residents a safe space to sleep away from their goat friends.

Goats And Dogs

As a general rule, it’s not a good idea to let dogs interact with any animal at a farmed animal sanctuary. As the species in your care are prey animals, there is a high chance that there will be a negative reaction, either from the dog or the resident, and it is never worth risking an animal’s safety when there is any possibility to avoid conflict.

When it comes to letting dogs spend time around goats, it is entirely dependent on the individual personalities at play. Some dogs and goats have been known to get along very well, without any issues. However, other personalities might not ever be safe around one another, especially dogs who are more prone to chasing or aggression, or goats who have horns. If for some reason a dog needs to spend time with goats, plan for a great deal of supervision, with the knowledge that some dogs may live peacefully with goats one day and decide to chase the goats the next day, and some goats may decide to defend their territory from the dog if they feel threatened or encroached upon. Some goats might be too skittish or afraid to ever peacefully be in the same pasture as a dog.

Goats And Cats

Goats should be able to coexist fairly easily with cats; most likely they’ll do their own thing apart from one another. Some have expressed concern about cats spreading toxoplasmosis to goats, though this should not prove to be a practical concern if the goat’s food source is not defecated on by a cat.

Goats And Wildlife

Given the large pasture spaces goats typically require, they will likely share their space with other animals who call the sanctuary grounds home. While in many cases, goats and wildlife can safely co-exist, some animals can pose a serious threat to goats.

Predators Of Goats

Certain animals are especially dangerous to goats and will attack or try to eat them if given the chance. This includes stray dogs, coyotes, wolves, foxes, wild pigs, cougars, bobcats, mountain lions, and bears. Some larger birds such as owls, vultures, eagles, and even ravens have been known to attack vulnerable goats and kids. The best defense is a properly monitored outdoor living space, as well as fencing and an indoor living space designed with predator protection in mind. This includes predator netting if necessary (chicken wire will not keep a predator out!), fencing that cannot be dug under, climbed, or jumped over, predator-secure latches, and vigilance! Larger residents in the same pasture may help discourage predators from hanging around.

Other Wildlife

While there may be specific considerations based on your area, aside from potential predators and bighorn sheep (discussed above), goats can typically share outdoor living spaces with wildlife without issue. Indoor spaces, however, could be a different story. Wild birds and rodents may take up residence inside indoor living spaces, which depending on the species and population size may cause certain issues, including disease spread. Rats can be especially destructive if they have access to electrical wires or any insulation, and could even cause injury to vulnerable residents, so it’s important to take measures to deter them as much as possible and to protect areas where they could cause serious issues. For more information on compassionate wildlife strategies, check out our resource here!

SOURCES:

Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae | Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory

Exposure of Bighorn Sheep to Domestic Goats Colonized With Mycoplasma Ovipneumoniae Induces Sub-Lethal Pneumonia (Non-Compassionate Source)

How To Raise Sheep And Goats Together | Moms (Non-Compassionate Source)

Concerns With Keeping Different Types Of Livestock Together | Knoji (Non-Compassionate Source)

Keeping Goats With Chickens | Countryside Daily (Non-Compassionate Source)

How To Protect Your Goats From Predators | Dummies (Non-Compassionate Source)

Non-Compassionate Source?

If a source includes the (Non-Compassionate Source) tag, it means that we do not endorse that particular source’s views about animals, even if some of their insights are valuable from a care perspective. See a more detailed explanation here.

Updated on December 23, 2020

Related Articles

Support Our Work
Please consider supporting The Open Sanctuary Project by making a donation today! We are 100% donor-funded and rely on the support of generous individuals to provide compassionate resources to animal caretakers worldwide.
Donate Now HERE