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Old 07/30/09, 08:46 PM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 1,056
horses and cows sharing same field?

Hi, I have a weird question. Things have changed a lot since we first moved here. As things are today we own 4 cows and our neighbor has about six more. But he also rents out the field to four to six horses depending on the season. We have watched the horses chase the cows and get them all scared. And this spring we lost a cow who delivered a calf early, and last week the neighbors lost one of their cows after giving birth.

Can cows and horses stay in the same field? Is this normal and does the death of these cows have anything to do with the horses?


I am asking this because we are thinking about fencing off our property but we don't want to hurt their feelings.
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Old 07/30/09, 08:52 PM
Alice In TX/MO's Avatar
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Join Date: May 2002
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It depends absolutely on the horse's personality. Some horses just like to herd cattle. One horse I knew ate the ears off of a calf.

My horses live with the cattle full time, but they don't bother them at all.
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"No great thing is created suddenly." ~Epictitus
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Old 07/30/09, 09:05 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: So/West Missouri
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Some horses will run the cattle and yes the stress will kill the cattle.
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Old 07/30/09, 10:02 PM
Join Date: Jun 2007
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Right after I bought our homestead I allowed the former owner to continue grazing his animals for a season. He kept 12 cattle and 3 horses together on our 50 acres with no problems at all. Perhaps the stress comes from the tightness of confinement. They all shared one water trough, but other than that, they were free to roam as they pleased.
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Old 07/30/09, 10:03 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Pa
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Any number of possibilities as far as why the cows died. Disease, stress, or just dumb luck... without more to go on I don't see how one could speculate on a cause.

Our horses do share the pastures with the cows from time to time. Lucky for us, everyone gets along pretty well. But I know of others who have to keep them separated because some of the horses have been rough on the calves.
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Old 07/30/09, 10:19 PM
freeholdfarms's Avatar  
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Location: Texas
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Ours have always been together, with no problems. Morgans and Dexters.
Roddy and Sandra
and The Thundering Herd
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Old 07/30/09, 10:48 PM
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Location: Michigan
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I kept my horses at a friend's place for a winter, they shared a pasture with cows with no problems.
I saw something nasty in the woodshed
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Old 07/31/09, 06:01 AM
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Horses and cows share problems.
Toxic Free Products
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Old 07/31/09, 07:04 AM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: So/West Missouri
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It may be the way they are raised or the breeding here alot of horses are used to work cattle and quarterhorse is popular. We had a neighbor man that refused to allow horses to pasture with cattle because of them running the cattle. My son had a quarter horse that ran cattle so we had to keep him away from them.
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Old 07/31/09, 12:24 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Virginia
Posts: 384
Spoiled horses at my place... they run the cows. Why do they think the grass the cows are chewing on is any better than the grass they are chewing on?
Have to keep them separated.
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Old 07/31/09, 03:12 PM
Join Date: May 2002
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We had working ranch horses too ... worked cattle. We could have the draft horses in with the cattle in the winter, but not the under saddle horses ... they would "herd" cattle when they got bored.

I've had others that paid no attention to the cattle at all. I'd say it depends entirely on your horses ... and maybe to some extent, younger horses might be more likely to "herd" or run cattle.

It may be more instinct than agression, though, like with the herding breeds of dogs. I've had an Australian Shepherd dog that was never trained to work cattle, we refused to allow it, in fact, but she would try to herd anything that would move ... pigs, chickens, turkeys ... may be that way with horses that are used to herd cattle as well, or bred to work cattle.
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Old 07/31/09, 05:10 PM
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My horses got along well with the cows but they weren't QHs.

The horses will be dominant though ... even nice ones!

P.S. I wonder if that earless calf could have been a victim of frostbite? Seen it happen.
"I love all of this mud," said no one, ever.
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Old 07/31/09, 09:41 PM
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Yes they can. IF the particular animals involved are ok with it. I've know some horses to terrorize cows and other horses to be terrified by them. I've never seen a cow care one way or they other but I'd imagine some do. However I did have a neighbor whose horned bull did some real damage to a horse once.

Also keep in mind hay is sold as Horse Quality or Cow Quality, Horse being the better and more expensive. Fencing types are often different as well.
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Old 07/31/09, 10:28 PM
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We had a hackney gelding at one time with 60-70 holsteins. It was not unusual to drop a calf in the pasture. All the cows would be in the barnyard. The pony would be missing so would go out to get it to find it standing guard over the calf.

Think possibly it had illusions that it was the daddy.

Unfortunately every horse we tried to mix with cattle would turn up foundered.
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Old 08/01/09, 05:54 PM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 1,056
Thank you thank you so much for the info. Glad to know that it is possible for the animals to be in the same field, we won't worry about it so much as we will probably be getting rid of all but one cow /calf and not have to worry too much. You are right there could be many reasons as to why the two cows died and we won't separate them as it would be a real hassle.

again thank you HT family I knew you would come through!
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Old 08/02/09, 02:49 PM
Macybaby's Avatar
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My dad always said you could put a bunch of cows in with a few horses, but not the other way around. His reasoning had to do with the teeth of each animal and the amount of grazing.

A horse can clip the grass much shorter than a cow can, and if you have limited grazing, the cow can end up not getting enough to eat as the horses keep it too short for the cattle.

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Old 08/02/09, 07:01 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2008
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My first horse-- an off-track TB-- retired to my parents' farm when they moved there. He had the place to himself at first, and a couple months later, he got his first bovine pasturemates, first a cow w/ calf, later more cows and eventually a bull. The horse-- who was always a bit of a bully-- was definitely the "herd boss"-- he wouldn't chase/herd the cows or anything, but he would eat first, drink first, etc., and heaven help the cow that would get in his way. Oddly enough though, he was GREAT with the farm babies-- the calves could huddle under him, play with him, whatever, and he didn't care.

Unfortunately the horse eventually went blind due to a viral infection, and once the bull figured that out, the bull started terrorizing the horse, and we had to keep him separated.
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Old 08/03/09, 10:07 AM
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Too many fat quarters...
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Originally Posted by glenn amolenaar View Post
Some horses will run the cattle and yes the stress will kill the cattle.
I agree. And you don't even know, necessarily, which ones will do it.

All of our horses are working cow ponies, but only two of them can't be left pastured with cattle because they'll run them. The rest only chase cows with a rider.

(BTW, my first thought with the earless calf was frostbite, too. It's pretty common)
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Old 08/03/09, 07:58 PM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: NW Oregon
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I don't have horses anymore but when we did, we never had any problem, unless there was a bull around. We had to seperate horses/cattle, the bulls would head butt the horses, and tip over the ponies.
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