Asked in Grazing and Range/Pasture Management
Is it uneconomical to have horses on the same pasture as cattle?
February 10, 2017 5:04AM
The only time it's not uneconomical if the number of cattle exceeds the number of horses by a multiple of at least 3, the horses have been exposed to cattle from a young age and taught that they are to be respected, and/or the horse isn't a cutting or roping horse that is trained to work with cattle every opportunity he's given.
Otherwise, it's not only uneconomical, but unethical especially
for the cattle. Horses won't protect cattle, they are much more
likely to harass, bully, and chase them away from a feed source
they're supposed to share. It's particularly worse it's a working
ranch or rodeo horse, because that horse just won't know when to
quit cutting and herding them around. It wears on the horse, and
cattle particularly become stressed and lose weight, which is never
a good thing.
It is particularly troublesome when the number of horses are equal to or more than the number of cattle, and there's not enough feeding stations to make it hard for the horses to selfishly hog every single one of them. Because when there's only a few feeding stations and 10 horses plus 10 cows (or 5 horses and only 2 cows), you can bet those 5 or 10 horses are going to be biting, nipping, kicking, and lunging at any cow that dares to try to steal a mouthful of feed from their feed pile. And the owner is going to wonder why the horses are staying nice and fat, but the cows are loosing weight and looking awful.
Let's face it, horses are hay burners unless they're given a job to do that pays for their keep. They can eat you out of house and home if you let them. Cattle are a greater economic incentive, but if they're getting picked on and bullied by some pet horses (and donkeys), then the economics of keeping them together is extremely poor.
So I recommend to keep the two species separate unless you know for a fact the horses have not harassed cattle in the past.