Ups and Downs in ranging cattle and chickens together

By holm25 · Oct 14, 2015 · ·
  1. holm25
    I know many of you guys out there are urban chicken owners so this may not interest you but I thought I would write this since some people might be interested or have questions. We started out with just chickens and for a long time I was scared about the ideas of adding cows. I thought for sure they were going to runaround and trample my chickens to death and I thought that for weeks after we got our first milk cow. Until one day we decided to let our 300 7 week old chicks out to free range. I was relieved when I saw that they stayed close to the coop and wouldn't go in the pasture.Until one day when the young scared chicks became curious teenagers. One day I saw the chicks out in the pasture and freaked out because I thought they were toast but soon realized the cows the cows didn't even pay attention to the chickens. The cows actually liked them because the chicken would walk around and peck at the flies on the cows. Here we r a year later and I have found some pros and cons in this little journey.



    1. Cattle are really bad at digesting grains therefore most of the grain a cow eats passes right through the body and is still in the cow pies which the chickens will scratch in and eat any left over grain. (This may gross some of you out).

    2. Chickens scratch the cows pies and even them out in the pasture keeping the grass growing evenly and not letting the grass die under piles of manure.

    3. Chickens walk around the cows and peck at flies on the cows back. The less flies there are on a cow the happier it is!!

    4. Cows like many large animals eat hay in the winter months or when grass is low. Chickens enjoy scratching in spilt hay and eating the dry alfalfa and clover leaves. Same thing with straw the chickens will scratch in and eat any missed grain in it.

    5. When your chickens are out scratching around the cattle they r more protected from predators. No hawk, eagle, fox or coyote is going to get close to cows just to eat a chicken. Its not worth the risk of getting kicked or smashed into the ground.



    1. Cows can be big. Which means when running they cant always stop right away and can be clumsy. The only bird that got killed by a cow got stepped on and it was my fault. I dropped a bucket of grain and a little cockerel ran over to eat and so did the cows and they didn't stop fast enough and stepped on the poor guy. This is the only other problem I have had.

    Well I could have wrote more but I know I would get off subject if I did. If you have any questions or anything else feel free to PM me.

    Thanks for reading!!

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  1. holm25
    Ithink ot would
  2. SugarPlum
    I buy organic beef, chicken, turkey & milk from Grassway Organics farm in New Holstein, Wisconsin. They practice moving the Jersey dairy cows after each milking to a new pasture. Then they bring in the chicken tractor into that field where the manure is to spread it out of the organic pastures. They have a watch dog too. So good for the soil & the animals & we benefit! Thank you for taking care of our Mother Earth!!!
  3. holm25
    Yep I think it would
  4. alice80790
  5. alice80790
    would it be the same around goats I own goats
  6. holm25
  7. RezChamp
    Literally a breath of fresh air. Where I live no-one does this anymore. The story as well as the pix reminded me of when I was a kid on my grandparents' farms.
    Thank you for sharing this.
  8. puppies9099
  9. BantyChooks
    congrats on POW!!
  10. holm25
    Thanks!! Joel Salatin is like a hero to me!!
    my cows suffer the hens but often chase the roosters away for fun (I think)
  12. N F C
    Well written and interesting article. Thanks!
  13. mymilliefleur
    Good article! I've noticed a lot of the same things you mentioned, chickens really get along great with cows. Not only do they eat undigested grain, but they will also eat fly and other pest larvae out of the manure. And yes, that's probably the only con I can think of, cows are big, and they may accidently crush small chickens and chicks.
  14. carlsaSC
    I have read a couple of books by Joel Salatin in which he extols the benefits of chickens and cattle in the same enclosure. But, this is a more detailed look at the process. Thank you.
  15. Hiyaherc
    Congratulations! Love the article and the pictures. Great information since we are considering cows.
  16. Shabana
    Congrats !! Love the pics. Great info too !
  17. BYC Project Manager
    Congratulations, we've chosen one of your chicken pics for the Picture Of the Week. Thanks for posting your chickens to our "My Chickens" pages! You can find more info about our POW here: BYC POW process
  18. holm25
    Thanks guys!! Rhetts my ducks and geese were with the cows to an they shoved their beaks in the cow pies*hurl*.

    Muttsfan we had a pony and I know he would stomp them. Hes gone though...
  19. Rhetts
    Great article with good points. I have my geese and ducks ranging with the cattle. They are like best buds. It is so fun to watch! Thanks for sharing your great pictures!
  20. 1muttsfan
    I like your list of pros and cons. My chickens will scratch around in the horses' leftover grain, but they pretty much avoid the horses. Probably a wise idea, the pony is pretty sassy.
  21. memphis
    Good article Holm!
  22. holm25
  23. speckledhen
    I loved reading your article! And the photos are wonderful, of course.

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