Commingling Chickens With Other Farm Animals

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  1. mymilliefleur
    Whether you have had chickens for a while and are getting ready to add other livestock to the
    farm, are just getting ready to add chickens to your farm, or simply worried about introducing
    chickens to your other pets, you be wondering, will other animals get along just fine with my
    chickens? Are there any benefits or draw back to raising other animals along with my chickens?
    Chickens are amazing versatile, and generally get along just fine with other live stock, but it is
    not always that simple.

    Ducks and Geese
    Ducks can eat the same feed as chickens, and generally get along with them just fine, and will
    eat snails, slugs, and other pests chickens may not be as interested in. Ducks tend to be on the
    flighty side, but keeping them in with a flock of friendly chickens, will help to tame them. Ducks
    that have never been around chickens may be a little timid at first, so they should be introduced
    carefully, and observed to make sure they are all getting along just fine. Both ducks are geese
    can be extremely messy, so it's best not to confine them in a small area, since they will make
    the coop conditions unsanitary for your flock. Geese can be a bit territorial, and may pick on your
    chickens if they are kept too small of a space. Ducks, and especially geese do not scratch
    unlike chickens, and tend to compact the soil, so don't leave them in one space for too long.
    Both need water to bathe and breed, but don't worry, you don't have to have a pond, just a big
    enough container for them to submerge their entire body. Make sure you have some sort of ramp
    as chickens, ducklings and goslings can fall into the water and drawn if they don't have a way out.
    Because baby water fowl are so messy, they shouldn't be brooded with chicks, turkey poults,
    and other non water birds.
    Another tip: Water fowl have a way of fouling up their water, making it very unpleasant for your
    chickens. You can avoid this by putting out a nipple water bucket. Both your chickens and water
    fowl can drink from it, but the water will stay clean.
    More: Nipple Watering
    Summer winter chicken nipple waterer
    Nipple watering system made easy

    [​IMG]
    Ducks and chickens commingling

    Sheep and Goats
    Chickens and other poultry get along great with sheep and goats, and help to keep parasites down
    by consuming them out of their manure. Since most parasites are species specific, your flock is not
    at risk of getting these parasites them selves. Poultry can graze right along with them, and are not
    in as much danger of being trampled as they are with larger animals such as horses and cows.
    Note: Make sure to keep your flocks feed away from other livestock, since almost everything
    loves chicken feed, especially cattle, horses, sheep and goats, who can, and will tear though
    chicken wire and hardware cloth to get to it, and may over eat and make themselves sick.
    Goats especially are very sly at getting to feed, so make sure it is secured where they cannot
    get to it.


    [​IMG]
    Goats and sheep commingle well with poultry.

    Cattle
    Letting chickens graze with cattle can be very beneficial for both the chickens and the cows.
    The former enjoy scratching through the cows manure, spreading it out, helping it break down,
    and eating any undigested grain. Your chickens will also help keep the fly population down by
    eating larvae and other unwanted pests. Some cows will even learn to let chickens and ducks
    eat fly's and other insects right off of them. Cows will chase off dogs, foxes, and other unwanted
    predators helping to keep your flock safe. It is best to keep small chicks away from cattle, who
    may accidentally crush them.

    [​IMG]
    Chickens commingling with a milk cow.

    Horses
    Having chickens and horses together has many of the same benefits as keeping them with
    cattle. Chickens will help break down the horses manure, turning it into nice, fluffy, rich compost.
    They will also eat any feed that is spilled, which limits waste and helps to keep your horse from
    eating dirty feed off the ground. Having noisy chickens flying around them on a regular basis can
    help tame flighty horses. Make sure though that your flock is not pooping on your horses hay and
    feed, as it can make them ill.
    Note: If you give your livestock any kind of antibiotics, medications, pain killers, or chemical
    wormers, check and make sure they are safe for poultry.


    Pigs
    Chickens generally get along well with pigs, and enjoy scratching through their manure, but some
    pigs may see chickens as a tasty snack, though chickens are usually fast enough to get away from
    them. Smaller, breeds such as American guinea hogs, kune kune's, and pot bellies will do fine
    with poultry, and chickens will probably fine with other breeds as long as they are docile. Make
    sure that your pigs do not have anywhere where they can corner your birds.

    Dogs
    While some dogs will get along with chickens just fine, providing protection for your flock, others
    may see them as a tasty meal. Be very careful when you introduce your dogs to your flock, and
    watch their behavior carefully. If possible check with your dogs former owners, and see if they
    have had any kind of run ins with poultry in the past. Are your dogs known to go after small animals
    and birds? Some breeds are more likely to go after poultry than others, for example, most guardian
    dog breeds are good with poultry, but you should be extra cautious with hunting breeds especially.
    Even dogs who have never shown any aggression may decide to ''sample'' your flock, or kill for fun.
    Once a dog has developed a taste for chicken it is very difficult to break them of the habit. With
    some dogs, there is not much you can do but dispose of them, or keep them separate from your
    flock, but usually you can train them out of this nasty habit.
    More: How to train your dog not to kill chickens
    Introducing your dog to chickens tips and tricks
    Dog chicken predators: How to protect your chickens from dogs

    Cats
    Most cats will not go after adult poultry as long as they are getting enough to eat else where.
    They may go after chicks though, so don't leave them unsupervised around the brooder. Just
    like dogs, cats should be introduced to your flock carefully. Observe their behavior toward your
    flock. Having cats around can be very beneficial though, as they eat rats, mice and other rodents
    that may be attracted by your poultry. Cats and dogs that have been around poultry their whole
    lives will be much less likely try to attack your flock, so make sure you introduce your new kittens
    and puppy's to your birds right away.

    [​IMG]


    Turkeys
    Turkeys can be brooded and raised along with your flock, but you may want separate them
    during breeding season (usually March though May, but will depend on the bird) as they may
    become aggressive toward you flock. However, this problem usually goes away if they have
    enough space. Turkeys are range birds, and should never be confined in a small space,
    which may cause more aggression. It can be very beneficial to brood turkeys with chickens
    together (they are very susceptible to moisture, so it is not a good idea to brood them with
    water fowl) because the young poults will imitate the chicks and learn to eat and drink faster.
    The biggest draw back to raising chickens and turkeys together is risk of Blackhead Disease.
    If you keep your coop sanitary, and provide clean, fresh water for your flock, than your chances
    of black head will be greatly reduced.

    [​IMG]
    With plenty of space, turkeys and chickens commingle well.

    Guinea Fowl
    Guineas get along great with chickens, and can even, though it is rare, interbreed with them
    producing sterile off spring. They are great watch dogs, sounding the alarm when something
    is wrong. Guineas can be a bit wild and prefer to sleep in trees than in the coop. If you raise
    guineas with chickens, they usually learn to go into the coop at nigh along with your flock. They
    enjoy insects of all kinds and do not scratch as much as chickens and turkeys.

    Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Feel free to post below, or PM me. Thanks for reading.

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Comments

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  1. mymilliefleur
    My apologies for not responding faster! Thank you all for the comments and suggestions, I enjoy reading other experiences.

    @tinkershell767 , I've never personally raised alpacas so I will not be much help, but I did some research, and could not find anything against commingling them. In fact many people use them to guard their flocks. An interesting read: http://www.theranger.co.uk/News/Alpacas-guard-the-flock-_21536.html

    @DebFRd , you are absalutly right. That is something I forgot to mention. I have a large nipple waterer set up in the paddock that the ducks and chickens share. I also provide a *shallow* stock tank filled with water for the ducks to bathe in.
  2. DebFR
    One note about water and ducks. Yes, ducks and chickens will both use a nipple waterer, but ducks also need water they can dip their entire bill into to clear their nostrils.
  3. potagergirl
    nice article. We had guineas we raised with our chickens and thought they were great. We did run into a problem when our chickens had offspring, the guineas would go out of their way to injure the chicks. We had not choice but to get rid of the guineas. Now we have problems with predators. Eventually we will get the guineas back once the broody house is ready for Mama chickens and chicks.
  4. LulaGirl6
    Great article. I raised my girls with 2 of our dogs, a shepherd/doberman mix and a pomchi, and now they're all best friends. We had one incident back about a year ago when we adopted a bluetick coonhound - we had her tied up out back and the chickens were loose, and up until then the dog hadn't paid them any attention. Suddenly I heard this horrible scream and looked out to see the dog with a mouth full of feathers. The chicken was fine, just scared to death, and the issue resolved, and now the chickens *literally* walk all over the dog, and the dog just lays there and takes it! It's all about how you introduce your other animals to your flock
  5. LulaGirl6
    Great article. I raised my girls with 2 of our dogs, a shepherd/doberman mix and a pomchi, and now they're all best friends. We had one incident back about a year ago when we adopted a bluetick coonhound - we had her tied up out back and the chickens were loose, and up until then the dog hadn't paid them any attention. Suddenly I heard this horrible scream and looked out to see the dog with a mouth full of feathers. The chicken was fine, just scared to death, and the issue resolved, and now the chickens *literally* walk all over the dog, and the dog just lays there and takes it! It's all about how you introduce your other animals to your flock
  6. Michaels1715
    Which I have lost a few chickens *to*. Thanks for a great article, just please add alpacas to your list. [​IMG]
  7. Michaels1715
    I recently got 3 alpacas, and put them right in with my chickens. My chickens were a little nervous on the first day - they wouldn't even set foot outside the coop. But in less than a week, by looking at them together, you'd think that they'd spent their whole life together. Chickens on, under and all around the alpacas all day long. Even 3 little baby chicks dart around their feet. No injuries all, plus the alpacas will deter hawks which I have lost a few chickens too.
    Chickens + Alpacas = Great Companions (IMO)
    ~Sharon
  8. meralee42
    Nice article. Our chickens (mixed flock) co-habitate with 1 kitten (DSH torbie), 2 dogs (Italian greyhound and Australian shepherd), 2 pregnant goats (Nigerian dwarfs). 3 geese (cotton patch), 5 ducks (ancona and a brooding cayuga), and 6 rabbits (New Zealand crosses)! Very few and minor squabbles only, always brief and most involve when a dispute over food.
  9. Smuch
    When I have my chickens out with me with the equines the donkey is more likely to put his head down and check out the chickens which sometimes scares them. I have a gelding who will try to kiss the chickens if I am holding them. He breathes on them and sometimes tries to lick them. Some are OK with it and others get a little nervous. He's done that with cats and kittens also. He loves small animals but the donkey is just curious, I think. Chickens have been OK around them when I have let them out there and they're pretty aware of everything so they know to stay away from hooves.
  10. TheBrumstead
    What about donkeys? I'd guess they'd fall under horses. I currently have my coop inside of a dog kennel. If I'm ever able, I'd just incorporate it into the pasture and have a gate rig up where the donkeys/goats could not get inside and eat the chicken feed.
  11. Smuch
    Thank you. I have chickens, horses, a donkey, goats and cats and pretty much have seen the behavior you have outlined. Our dog, who recently died, was not good with chicks and killed some so we kept all the chickens away from him. My chickens don't go out with the equines and goats too much (unless they escape their large yard) because we have hawks flying around and I don't think even the donkey would protect them from hawks. The chicken area has a lot of tree covering but the horse pasture has a lot of open area.
  12. KrazeyLady
    Very informative article. Over the years I have kept sheep, goats, horses and calves along side my chooks and ducks with no problems and many benefits. I kept the goats and sheep away from the poultry food by supplying it inside a large shed with a cat type flap on the door. Hens could get in but not the larger animals.
    One animal you forget to mention is rabbits. My vet told me never to keep them together or even near each other as the dust from chicken poo is poisonous to rabbits.
  13. DebFR
    Great article and very helpful comments - thanks to all!
  14. ValedasLascas
    My guineas, chickens and turkeys get on fine together. Major problem with the ducks as the ducks foul their water and eat the chickens out of house and home. Major problems with disease keeping the chickens with pigs and would not recommend trying it. Not too good an idea with the goats and sheep as goats and sheep are naturally greedy for chicken food and will steal it all. Then you have over fat sheep and goats and skinny chickens. Rabbits and chickens get on fine and chickens will consume all of the manure. Always keep baby chicks with baby turkeys, quails and pheasants as the chicks show them how to eat and find the water. The current mixed batch I have has had zero mortality which is brilliant.
  15. tinkershell767
    Would keeping alpacas where the chickens once were harm the alpacas because of their low need for copper and the chickens high copper intake?
  16. familyfarm1
    great job!
  17. Chicken Girl1
    Very informative and helpful!
  18. mymilliefleur
    Thank you all!
  19. sunflour
    Well done.
  20. dheltzel
    Guineas and chickens don't always commingle well, in fact a male guinea will drive a rooster until he weakens or even dies. You certainly will have trouble getting good fertility in the chickens. I've watch male guineas go after each other and I can't imagine a rooster surviving that for long.
  21. Mountain Peeps
    Wow is this great! Everyone should read this

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