Table of Contents
Goats are mischievous creatures, so can goats and chickens live together successfully?
In short, the answer is yes. However, that decision has pros and cons and plenty to consider.
There is something so satisfying about stepping into a clean coop with fresh bedding, a warm heat lamp if the weather requires one, straw-filled nesting boxes, and a full feeder.
The chickens rest peacefully on their perch, squawking and readjusting to make room for each other.
A grassy, clover-laden chicken pen with waterers scattered about.
That sounds pretty idyllic, doesn’t it?
Now, add 3 or 4 horned goat kids and watch things go up in flames (hopefully not literally).
Goats are friendly, curious, multipurpose animals. They’re often considered the gateway animal for those beginning their homesteading journey.
If you’ve owned goats, that phrase is mildly humorous. But their charming personalities often make up for their goofy antics.
If you’re considering combining your goat and chicken pen, there are ways to make that idea successful.
Can Goats and Chickens Live Together: Pros
A goat, known for being a browser, can play a vital role in keeping brushy, invasive bushes or vines from growing in the chicken pen.
For example, occasionally, we allow our goats into the chicken pen to rid the area of creeping charlie (ground ivy) because the chickens enable it to run rampant in their pen all summer long.
The goats, who prefer browsing, won’t turn their nose up at knee-high grass, gooseberry, or a sapling stretching for light in the chicken pen.
Which keeps it tidy and mowed while providing forage for the goats.
In the winter, chickens battle cold-related issues like frostbite, frozen toes, and limited space to move due to the snow.
Chickens spend a lot of time in the coop during these windy days, which leads to a messier space.
When goats and chickens live together, it is not uncommon to look out on a wintery day to find a chicken atop a full goat belly, huddled up for warmth.
As an added benefit, goats travel in a line, creating well-worn paths around the pen that the chickens are all too thankful to use as appose to battling through the deep snow on their own.
If you’d like your chickens to travel farther, laying a thin layer of straw along the paths can entice them to walk farther.
Diseases And Parasites
Most parasites are host specific, so chickens can help cleanse a pen of parasites that may affect goats.
Slugs and snails are known for being intermediate hosts of the Meningeal worm (originally picked up from the droppings of deer).
Chickens can readily slurp these slimy critters, ending their threat of infecting the goat as it accidentally eats a small slug or snail on pasture grasses.
Chickens will eat some flies and fly larvae that reside in goat manure.
A chicken keeper’s greatest threat is often a roaming nocturnal animal looking for a quick meal. Keeping larger-bodied animals in the chicken pen could deter smaller predators like raccoons, skunks, or even foxes from entering the pen or coop.
By allowing goats to live with chickens, a goat’s movement or alarmed screech informs potential threats of a larger opponent on the premises.
In theory, fencing one large parcel of land, creating a garden of Eden-esque environment where all animals live in harmony, is a far more serene option than breaking your acreage into multiple pens, paddocks, and outbuildings.
It is substantially cheaper to erect one pen than to fence two enclosures.
Keeping your chickens and goats together avoids cross-fencing, extra gates, and posts.
Goats and chickens form a symbiotic relationship centered around goats being messy.
Hens, on the other hand, are patient participants during feeding time.
Goats often spill feed if on a grain ration which the chickens happily tidy.
Tiny flakes of hay that gather at the bottom of the hay feeder are a tasty snack for any chicken, especially if mixed with kitchen scraps and extra milk from the dairy goats.
Not to mention a chicken’s affinity for tiny, tasty mice that may swing by for lunch or nest in the goat bedding.
So, can goats and chickens live together? Absolutely! Goats and chickens can live in harmony that can benefit both species greatly.
With the pros mentioned above, this may seem like the answer to all your homesteading woes. But there are a few things to weigh when making the final call.
Can Goats and Chickens Live Together: Cons
Financially Beneficial … Or Not?
Remember above, where we decided that fencing one large pen could be the wiser choice financially.
This comes with one caveat.
Fencing goats into a chicken pen or chickens into a goat pen will require a particular type of fencing.
Chickens may stay inside a 4 or 5ft pen if the spacing of a panel is narrow and their wings are clipped.
Goats, on the other hand, especially atop a compact snow drift, are more than willing to attempt an escape.
The cheap 4ft option can quickly shift to 6ft to contain the goats, which will be slightly more expensive. Not to mention a goat is a master mischief-maker.
Goats are the epitome of “the grass is greener on the other side of the fence,” pushing and wiggling through panels for that one blade of grass.
In doing so, a goat can get their horns stuck, forcing you to clip and repair the wire.
Electric or “hot wire” along the fence line could mitigate this problem by keeping the goats away from the fence.
Mostdiseases are host-specific (meaning cross-species transmission is not possible).
For example, coccidiosis can affect goats and chickens but have host-specific protozoa that prevent the transmission between species.
With that said, one severe disease affects both chickens and mammals, such as the goat.
Cryptosporidiosis can be transmitted between species and requires quarantine, heavy cleaning (using ammonia), and sterilization of bedding to destroy the oocysts.
Baby chicks are often at the highest risk of carrying the disease. If transmitted to baby goats, the prognosis is grim.
Close, cramped quarters could heighten your chances of either animal suffering a disease the other passes along.
Goats consume approximately 9L of water per day. Therefore, a large water trough is the best option for watering your goat.
Almost with 100% certainty, a feathery hen will perch on the side of the water trough without caring where her droppings land (most often in the water).
Partially feathered and brave, a young juvenile bird will hop onto the trough attempting a drink, only to fall in and, sadly, drown.
If you keep ducks with your chickens and goats, a duck makes short work of a clean water source.
Flapping and splashing (and pooping) in your goat drinking water, a duck will make open water impossible for a shared pen.
When sharing a pen, some farmers put a large board with a hole to prevent the chickens and ducks from ruining the goats’ clean drinking water.
Salmonella can pose a significant risk to nursing goat kids; chicken excrement carries that specific bacteria.
A nursing doe that rests her udder on dirtied bedding risks transmitting the bacteria to her kid when they feed next.
If your goats can access the chicken coop, you’ll soon ensure they don’t.
Goats are excellent bulls-in-a-china-shop.
On rare occasions, a goat has made its way into our chicken coop, and there are broken eggs, squawking chickens, and goat droppings.
It’s even happened that one unruly, wayward goat in search of hen scratch snuck into the coop and, upon me flinging the door open, panicked and stepped on a hen as he fled the scene.
The chicken was fine, but not a rare occurrence when goats would find their way into the coop just in time for me to catch them.
Their flight response kicks in, leading to kicked chickens.
I suggest separate housing if you want to house goats in your chicken coop.
A coop that is goat-proof and deters chickens from roosting or nesting in the goat barn.
The shift to people striving for self-sustainability is an important one.
It is also a steep learning curve for those building up their homestead. It’s easy to want to pick one of everything, to ensure you have it all. But, the most important part of homesteading is surveying your land and filling it with the best-suited animals.
Most importantly, do not overstock your land and rob yourself of production the following year.
Much like over-planting your garden while seedlings are young, a pen with ten baby chicks and two goat kids can quickly explode into a hen sitting on her clutch, hatching out ten more babies and the grown doe delivering triplets.
With shared space, you may need to consider fewer animals.
To keep the grass alive, trees flourishing, and pen healthy, slowly introduce animals and take note of the changes each addition makes to the land.
The con of all cons.
Most farmers will tell you that keeping goats with chickens is a bad idea due to the impossible task of separating their feed.
In a matter of moments, Goats will clean a chicken feeder out of the layer pellet you spent a pretty penny on.
All the while, hay will be supplied and waiting. Goats love layer pellets.
They also love any kitchen scraps you were hoping to a lot to the chickens.
It’s unbelievable to watch a goat (with horns) maneuver its way into the coop in search of extra feed.
Hay bags can prevent chickens from kicking out (and pooping) on the goat’s hay. However, finding a solution for goats in the chicken feed proves slightly more complicated.
Best of Both Goat and Chicken Worlds
While keeping goats directly in the same pen with chickens may be less desirable than you had hoped, there is a happy middle ground.
My setup doesn’t allow goats and chickens to be housed together.
Our pen, while a great size for chickens, ducks, and geese, quickly becomes crowded with goats.
We’ve battled goats stuck in the coop door, lost feed, broken eggs, land overload, and injured hens while attempting a one size fits all method.
So, we split the goats and chickens up but in adjoining pens. The benefits of this… many!
Goats and Chickens: Pasturing Part-Time Pals
Creating areas where goats and chickens can livenearone another makes it possible to see only benefits instead of downfalls.
By granting access to the goats into the chicken pen (but removing the food while they’re present), they spend all their time mowing the grass, snacking on invasive weeds, and fertilizing in moderation.
The goats get a break from their regular pasture (which mimics rotational grazing as the pasture rests).
The chickens benefit from any leftover grain or hay that goats lazily leave behind.
All the while, we often open the middle gate so the chickens can go into the goat pen as well.
They rush excitedly to the feeder and begin scratching, pecking, and searching for insects in this untouched-by-chicken pen.
They do an excellent job at spreading manure as they scratch and kick to unearth bugs and larvae.
Chicken poop is higher in nitrogen which makes grass thrive.
The chickens kindly leave this behind in their part-time pasture so it doesn’t overwhelm the land but helps it.
Coop And Barn Bliss
Since each visit is occasional, the goats are often kept busy enough; they rarely bother with the chicken coop.
However, removing food can discourage them from attempting a coop break.
Goats often do their job in a new pasture, then happily return to their barn area to drink, chew their cud, and rest.
The barn, during active feeding, can be closed to discourage roosting or egg-laying within the goat barn while the chickens work.
There is one instance where you’ll want chickens in the goat barn.
In the Spring, when deep cleaning, we shovel out the majority of spent bedding and then allow the chickens access where they kick and scratch up another layer to remove without any extra work done by us.
The success of goats living with chickens depends entirely on the setup, function, and animals themselves.
Whatever you decide to do, know that trial and error is a great teacher after the basics are implemented.
READ NEXT: Electric Fence for Chickens and Goats
Can goats live in a chicken coop? ›
Despite all these problems, lots of people have managed keeping goats with chickens. The solution is to provide them with separate housing, encourage the chickens to sleep in their own quarters at night, but allow them to share the same pastures during the day.Is chicken poop toxic to goats? ›
Other serious problems can occur when keeping goats with chickens because of high levels of Salmonella enterica and Campylobacter bacteria, which are both present in poultry feces. Doe or other ruminant udders can be contaminated with either bacteria and then transfer them to the nursing offspring.Can goats protect chickens? ›
Pigs, cows, and goats can also deter certain predators from coming around but won't protect your chickens outright either.Can goats get mites from chickens? ›
Like many parasites, most mites are host-specific, meaning they are unique to goats. While you might find a couple of related mite species on deer or sheep, they are a completely different species than what is found in chickens and other poultry. That means goats and poultry cannot infect each other with mites.Can goats sleep with chickens? ›
It's perfectly fine to let chickens and goats free range together, but they do need a place of their own when not turned out. You'll need to give the chickens a place to live free of the goats where they can be warm and protected from predators.Is goat poop good for anything? ›
Goat manure is an excellent fertilizer for herbs, vegetables, and other crops. It is famous for increasing the water holding capacity of the soil, among other uses. Like all manures, Goat manure must be composted before using as a soil supplement.What animals live well with goats? ›
Goats are social animals who need the company of at least one other goat, but also get along with cows, sheep, horses, or donkeys. They also get along with cats and most dogs.What animal is best at protecting goats? ›
What animal will protect goats? Llamas, donkeys, dogs, and alpacas are all good options for guardian animals for your goats. Just remember, it's best to add the guardian animal to the herd at a young age, so they have time to bond with your goats.Can you let goats free range? ›
You let the goats out of their pens on a regular basis so they can nibble on bushes, grass, forage… whatever they'd like (hopefully, not your petunias, though…) When you free range your goats, you don't bother to stake, tether, fence, or confine them in any way. You just let them do their thing.What is a natural mite treatment for goats? ›
Natural Treatment for Mites in Goats: Make a Topical Salve
If you have them, myrrh gum powder and lavender/tea tree essential oils can be added, but sulfur is the real workhorse here. Stir well as long as you can while it re-hardens. Apply this liberally to areas where mites are an issue – feet, outside of ears, etc.
What fencing is best for goats? ›
Woven wire is preferred by most goat-owners; however, it is more expensive but most often used for smaller pastures. This fence keeps each opening in place, is sturdy and can withstand pushing, climbing, and general goat rowdiness. The fence needs to be pulled tight or goats may push the fence over and escape.What are the signs of mites in goats? ›
The main signs are encrusted lesions, hair loss, abrasions from rubbing and scratching. Exhaustion and poor growth rates. (Scab mite also known as Psoroptes ovis and Psoroptes equi)These mites can survive off host for up to 18 days! Ears – causes crusting in the ears leading to head shaking.Should goats be closed in at night? ›
You'll need to shut your goats up securely at night, especially when your goats have kids. An enclosed shed or barn should be well-ventilated though, even in winter. Screened openings high in the walls will help to keep varmints out, as well as prevent drafts that would blow on your goats and their babies.What do goats like to sleep on? ›
What Do Goats Like to Sleep On? Goats love sleeping on a raised platform because they enjoy climbing, and it also helps to keep them dry away from urine. You can use pallets to raise a sleeping platform for your goats. The pallets should get fixed in such a way that it's stable to protect your goats from tripping over.Where do goats like to sleep at night? ›
Goats prefer a three sided shelter rather than an enclosed structure because they need quite a bit of ventilation to keep their lungs happy. Goat's go to the bathroom A LOT, and they go right where they sleep.What should goats not eat? ›
But, just like other animals, goats shouldn't consume things like garlic, onion, chocolate or any source of caffeine, to name a few. Although most goats wouldn't eat leftover meat scraps, they shouldn't be offered them either. Citrus fruits should also be avoided, as they can really upset the rumen.Why is my goat pooping balls? ›
A healthy goat poop has the shape of small oval balls. When a goat (Capra aegagrus hircus) is healthy, its poop typically comes out as hard, evenly distributed dark brown pellets, like the shape of small oval balls.Can you put goat poop directly on plants? ›
Goat droppings can be used in nearly any type of garden, including that of flowering plants, herbs, vegetables, and fruit trees. Goat manure can even be composted and used as mulch.Is it OK to have just one goat? ›
Goats are social, curious, gentle, independent and intelligent. They get bored and lonely when alone. It is never a good idea to just have one goat, you need at a minimum two goats. Two does or a doe and a wether (a neutered male goat) or a buck and a doe, if you are ready to start a little herd.Do goats sleep at night? ›
Goats are very light sleepers that wake up at any sound, which explains why people rarely see them sleeping. Domesticated goats sleep about 5 hours a night, and will take short naps during the day. If they have a companion goat, goats prefer to sleep huddled together.
What is poisonous to goats? ›
Some examples of poisonous plants include azaleas, China berries, sumac, dog fennel, bracken fern, curly dock, eastern baccharis, honeysuckle, nightshade, pokeweed, red root pigweed, black cherry, Virginia creeper, and crotalaria.What are goats worst enemies? ›
Coyotes are one of the most common goat predators. They usually attack with a bite to the throat and aim to kill quickly. You hope the snares and traps you've set do their job; you don't want to be out several prized animals.What goats fall over when scared? ›
The breed that has found fame for falling over is aptly called the Tennessee fainting goat. They're also known as myotonic, stiff-legged, nervous or wooden-leg goats.Do goats get jealous? ›
Goat Behavior and Temperament
Try to give your goats equal amounts of affection because they are intelligent animals that can get jealous and moderately aggressive if one goat is favored over others.
Goats with a healthy winter coat can withstand a 32-F day, though their thermal neutral zone typically lies within 54 to 75 degrees.Can goats survive on just grass? ›
In spite of their grazing preferences, goats can be grazed on pasture alone. The feeding strategy of goats appears to be to select grasses when the protein content and digestibility are high, but to switch to browse when the latter overall nutritive value may be higher.What do goats do in the rain? ›
Goats are generally pretty hardy animals, but the one thing they don't seem to like is rain. According to the USDA National Agricultural Library, "Goats will run to the nearest available shelter on the approach of a storm, often arriving before the first drops of rain have fallen.What kills mites on goats? ›
There are several different products that can be used to kill mites on and under the skin of goats. The dewormer Ivermectin can be injected SQ, dosing at one to two cc's per 50 pounds body weight weekly for at least three consecutive weeks.How do I keep mites off my goats? ›
Hot lime sulfur sprays or dips treat all mite species, including ear mites. Treatments should be repeated every 12 days as needed.What kills fleas on goats? ›
Only use a federally registered insecticide applicable for treating goats infested with fleas and ticks, such as Asuntol. You can use Asuntol as a dip, but most pet owners find that it is easier to mix and apply the insecticide as a spray. Spray the insecticide over the entirety of the goat's back, sides and flanks.
Is a 4 foot fence tall enough for goats? ›
Setting Fence Height
A 4- to 5-foot (1.2–1.5 m) fence is satisfactory for most goats.
A simple three-sided shelter will work just fine to protect your goats from the rain. They also need some protection from the sun and from drafts. Some good options include repurposed facilities like old dog houses, calf hutches, or greenhouse barns. You could even big a hoop barn or a pole barn with just a roof.Do goats prefer sun or shade? ›
Goats like the heat, however, it's a really good idea to provide shade for them. They might graze a little bit through the day, but in the afternoon you'll find them looking for protection from the bright sun. If you have very little shade trees for your goats, you can build them some shade.How do I check myself for mites? ›
The burrows of scabies mites can be identified by using an ink test. Ink is rubbed around an area of itchy skin before being wiped off with an alcohol pad. If scabies burrows are present, some of the ink will remain and will have tracked into the burrows, showing up as a dark line.Can humans get lice from goats? ›
Lice spread via direct contact between animals but are species-specific, meaning they cannot be transmitted across species. Lice that affect cattle cannot affect a horse, sheep or goat or vice versa. And the best news: lice that affect livestock cannot infest humans.How do you get rid of mites and lice on goats? ›
Treatment: Pyrethrins and pyrethroids are labeled for control of lice in sheep and goats. Shearing may be necessary to achieve effective louse control on sheep and goats. Re-treatment is often necessary.What kind of enclosure do I need for goats? ›
Goats need protection from the elements. A basic shelter such as a three-sided shed or pole barn large enough to get them out of the rain and wind will do. Multiple goats can share one stall—pregnant or lactating does and their kids will need their own space.What is the best habitat for goats? ›
A simple three-sided shelter will work just fine to protect your goats from the rain. They also need some protection from the sun and from drafts. Some good options include repurposed facilities like old dog houses, calf hutches, or greenhouse barns. You could even big a hoop barn or a pole barn with just a roof.Is 1 acre enough for goats? ›
Goats are similar to sheep in that you can support about 6-8 goats on an acre of land. Because goats are browsers, not grazers, it will be important that the land you have will supply them with the sort of forage they like to eat—see below.Do goats need to be put away at night? ›
Goats need access to shelter to hide from rain, and to sleep at night. Closing your goats up in a barn or shed is the best way to protect them from nocturnal predators, however, many people successfully raise goats with simple 3-sided shelters.
How cold is too cold for goats? ›
Goats with a healthy winter coat can withstand a 32-F day, though their thermal neutral zone typically lies within 54 to 75 degrees.Do goats need a heated barn in winter? ›
Unless you live in the arctic, most livestock animals do not require heat during cold winter months. Goats are no exception. In fact, using a heat lamp can actually cause more significant temperature fluctuations, which can negatively affect their ability to thermoregulate.What do goats love the most? ›
If a goat had to pick a favorite food, it would probably be grain! Goat grain can be made up of corn, barley, oats and soybeans – it is very high in calories (lots of energy), but low in fiber, which means that too much can make a goat obese.Do goats prefer hay or grass? ›
If good range isn't available, dry grass forage of a horse quality is acceptable. Goats require additional hay, which is roughage, for their rumen to function properly. The long fiber lengths are necessary for this. The rumen is the first stomach compartment (rich in live bacteria) that begins to digest the fiber.Do goats prefer weeds or grass? ›
Goats possess a unique characteristic that separates them from almost all other types of livestock. They would rather eat brush and weeds than grass because they are browsers, whereas cattle are grazers.What kind of fence is best for goats? ›
Woven wire is preferred by most goat-owners; however, it is more expensive but most often used for smaller pastures. This fence keeps each opening in place, is sturdy and can withstand pushing, climbing, and general goat rowdiness. The fence needs to be pulled tight or goats may push the fence over and escape.How long does it take 3 goats to clear an acre? ›
How long does it take for the goats to clear my land? The amount of time it takes for goats to clear land is determined by the amount of vegetation on the property, and the number of goats brought to the job site. One common guideline is that it takes 60 goats ~3 days to clear 1 acre.Can goats be out in the rain? ›
The ability of goats to withstand adverse weather conditions is strongly related to body condition. Goats in good condition — that is, goats that have developed a fat layer under the skin — can withstand rain and cold weather without much problem if they have access to good quality forage.Can goats be left outside in winter? ›
Most goats and sheep spend most of their time outside, but livestock that live outside may need special care when the winter weather sets in. All animals need some kind of shelter even if it is only a windbreak. They need a place where they can get out of the wind.What is the best bedding for goats in winter? ›
Pine shavings are the best goat bedding, among other materials. They are absorbent, manageable, inexpensive, and easy to clean up.