Hello everyone! My apologies if this has been posted before, but I couldn't find much information after some googling so I figured I'd ask the experts :)
I've had chickens for 3 years and have been doing the sort of learn as I go approach, utilizing the internet if I need guidance with any medical help, nutrition, etc, and have been relatively successful. Last year we had a run built, and being semi-newbies, we put it close to our house and now we're regretting that decision. It seems un-hygienic, they've killed what used to be our front yard and walking up the house all you see is chickens, mud, hardware cloth, etc. We've also had a minor mite outbreak that is being handled, but I have found some crawling on me in the house, and the thought of the mites being nearby makes me itchy and I just want the chickens away from the house.
We have a pole barn with a six acre field and two lovely horses. Whenever the chickens free range, they go straight to the barn and dig through the aisle way, picking up dropped grain and then head out to the manure pile and compost it for me! They spend all day up there when given the chance and the horses seem to like them well enough. Attached to the backside of our barn is a small paddock, originally used for lay-ups, or if a horse needed to be separated from the herd, but as of now, our mares are just pasture puffs and the paddock isn't being used. Our plan is to move the coop up there and put hardware cloth on the 3 board fence to make it chicken proof, and essentially move the run up to the barn. Would the horses be at risk for anything if they shared the barn with the chickens? During the summer the horses hang out in the barn because of the shade so they'd be neighbors for most of the day. Any negative consequences of being exposed to their dust/breathing in the smell of chickens and chicken poop? I know that chicken feces can cause salmonella, but the chickens wouldn't free range any more and would be kept in the paddock so that's not really a concern. Another thing I'm worried about is the transfer of bugs/mites/lice from chickens to horses, is that possible? I'm worried that the mites will go from the coop to the barn, is that something they'd do? A coop is a lot easier to disinfect than an entire barn. Any other risks associated with keeping chickens at the barn? Any input would be great! Oh and FYI, we aren't planning on moving the run until we get the mites under control.
Thanks in advance!!