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We have two mare horses in a pasture next to the pasture for our Heifer. We also combine the three in the same pasture many times and they all get along just fine. We are bringing home a yearling in a couple days and I was told by a friend of mine that you should never pasture cattle and horses together due to a parasite that can be deadly to horses. I have researched this online and have found the opposite to be true. From your experience what do you recommend and is this true?

J. C.


horses and cows pastured togetherFor a definitive answer specific to your area, you may want to ask your vet about this issue. In my experience, the danger from pasturing horses and cattle together is minimal. There is some indication that Equine Recurrent Uveitis (aka periodic ophthalmia or "moon blindness") may, on rare occasions, be caused by pasturing horses and cattle together. Putting a single heifer in with your herd wouldn't seem to raise the danger level significantly.

Depending on how you intend to use your horses, having a cow or two around may have some behavioral benefits, as it helps reduce the natural nervousness a horse may exhibit around bovines.

Actually, I'm more concerned these days about the risk posed by deer grazing in horse pastures. Equine infectious anemia (EIA), Leptospirosis, and other diseases are easily transmitted by those pretty white-tailed critters, yet I seldom see horse owners taking serious steps to keep Bambi away from Mr. Ed. In any case, it's always a good idea to stay current with wormers and vaccinations.

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