Horses also play an important supporting role to the goat herd. We have 4 working horses that are an important part of our grazing plan. The horses spend the night in a grazing paddock after the goats. This serves a couple of purposes. Firstly, horses are much less selective about the quality of the grass they eat, so after the goats have picked over the best parts of the plants, the horses will go in and mow down the rest of the paddock. This allows the stand to regrow vibrantly and uniformly in order to be appealing for the goats in 3-4 weeks time when it is time to graze the paddock again.
This system also helps keep our goat herd healthy as horses and goats do not share the same parasites. Having the horses graze the pastures after the goats help to remove the parasites from the paddock so the goats do not need to be treated with chemical dewormers.
And of course the horses turn all that grass into labor as well. We use a team to mow and rake hay, spread all the farm manure on the hayfields and pastures, and pull in firewood that we use to heat our facility and hot water. And of course, one of the most important attributes of the horses is the pleasure and satisfaction involved with working with them everyday. An often overlooked part of farm sustainability is the human component. We make an effort to include our personal goals and joy in the work as part of our decision making process.