Draft Animal Power – Draft animals and sustainable land stewardship › Forums › Draft Animal Power › Working with Draft Animals › Introducing horses to a new farm
- October 23, 2016 at 9:24 pm #89581Mark SiskParticipant
I’m a complete beginner. I have two questions. I have purchased a team of fairly well trained Haflinger mares each around ten years old. I plan to bring them home shortly. Are there things I need to be alert to when I introduce them to the farm (I have good fences). The second question is can I let them in with two heifer calves the youngest of which is 6 months old?
Thanks for any advise you have to give to me.
MarkOctober 24, 2016 at 8:52 am #89582JaredWoodcockParticipant
I have had my best luck with spending a lot of time developing a relationship with the horses before I move them. That way when they encounter all of the new things they will defer to me as their comfort zone.
As for horses and cows, introduce them to each other from a distance over a fence. If there is any doubt that they wont get along when you join them, make sure they wont have to compete for resources; IE plenty of pasture space, two stock tanks, multiple hay feeders. When introducing any new animals I usually try to guess which ones will be dominant and which will be subordinate. Put the dominant animals (halflinger mares) into the subordinate’s (heifers) pasture, that way the heifers will have the upper hand with being comfortable with the pasture and the mares will have plenty to check out before they start pushing the cows around.
My last haflinger was a real cow pusher, he would settle in fine once they all sorted it out but he definately drove some cows through fences.
Take this all with a grain of salt but maybe it will help.October 24, 2016 at 10:36 am #89583daniel groverKeymaster
Bringing new animals onto the farm is going to be about patience and perseverance. It will probably take time for them to settle in, to feel comfortable, to learn about the place. Like with any horse training, you’ll have to read their reactions to your farm to decide how quickly you want to challenge them, introduce them to new tasks, etc. They will let you know what to be alert to. Spend time leading them around your land, paying close attention to anything that spooks them.
When we brought new horses to the farm last season, flapping greenhouse plastic and remay were big deals for them. Lots of snorting and sidestepping away as we went past. Overtime, by calmly leading them past the greenhouses every day, they started to relax.
I also second what Jared said about ‘fence line grazing’. You can start out with two paddocks that are close to one another and then reduce the distance until there is only a single fence between the two groups. Eventually, open up the fence in between and let them mix. I don’t have a lot of experience grazing cows and horses in the same paddock. But I have grazed horses just behind dairy cows so that they could touch noses over the fence. After the first few days it became totally routine for them.
Good luck and let us know how it’s going!
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