Horses as flock protectors?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by MariposaMama, Jan 3, 2009.

  1. MariposaMama

    MariposaMama Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 31, 2008
    Mariposa, CA
    This might take a minute to explain, so forgive me. [​IMG]

    When we got our first 3 chicks, kind of accidentally, we converted our 18' X 20' horse shelter into a coop (at the time I didn't have any horses here). At the same time we got the chicks, we got a lamb and so we put her in there with them. For a couple of months, everyone lived together happily.

    I finally convinced my kids that it was unfair, almost cruel, to ask the lamb to live locked up like that and we didn't have the funds to build her a secure pasture, so we found her a great new home with knowledgable sheep people. Less than a week later, something climbed into the shelter and killed two of the three chicks. That same day, I received my new order of day olds.

    So, in order not to lose any more, hubby built a secure 4' X 8' coop that they are locked into at night and they run the shelter by day. The problem has just come up that the #1 roo has discovered he is a roo and is pestering the #2 and #3 roos as well as trying to mate the pullets. They are only 16 weeks old, so the pullets want nothing to do with him. I am having a hard time locking everyone up at night and basically making them a hostage to his antics. So far, no one has been bloodied, and I want to keep it that way.

    Hubby and I are already talking about a new and bigger coop/run setup (cause we NEED more chicks [​IMG] ) but that won't happen until Spring. I need to do something now.

    What I'm wondering (I know, you thought I'd never get there [​IMG] ) is that now that I have 2 horses here that hang out just outside the shelter all night, if I also use lights in and outside the shelter am I likely to be safe from nighttime predators so I don't have to lock them up? Part of me thinks it wasn't just coincidence that the others died so soon after the lamb left. I know it was a climber not a digger, most likely a raccoon. I just want to keep these guys safe and happy.
  2. buck-wild-chick

    buck-wild-chick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 24, 2008
    Hamilton C. FL
    Its not that the horse would "protect" the flock, I would think they would be a pretty big intimidator to the predator.That's why when you have sheep,goats or other livestock near the flock you might see a decrease in predators.
    But I did see a horse attack a possum one time. [​IMG]
  3. first time farmer

    first time farmer Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 31, 2008
    New Hampshire
    i agree my horses seem to scare away predators from the barn. But since I don't keep my chickens with the horses it doesn't help me
  4. MariposaMama

    MariposaMama Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 31, 2008
    Mariposa, CA
    Thanks buck-wild-chick. I guess that's really more what I meant. Not that the horses would actually go after anything that came close, just that their presence would deter anything from trying to get close in the first place. [​IMG]
  5. jvls1942

    jvls1942 Chicken Obsessed

    Oct 16, 2008
    horses do not consciously (sp)protect chickens.
    the light might make it easier for the predator to see the chickens.

    I have heard of red light "eyes" that you post around the yard that are supposed to ward off predators..

    I think the est predator defense is a dog that would stay right with the chickens all the time.. None of my dogs ever would.. Maybe some day.. [​IMG]
  6. buck-wild-chick

    buck-wild-chick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 24, 2008
    Hamilton C. FL
    I prefer lights around the chickens.So IF or WHEN a pred get to them,at least the chickens can see and maybe get away from the predator.

    And yes horses can be very nosey LOL
  7. ChanceRider

    ChanceRider Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 19, 2008
    Somerset, CA
    I don't think my 3 horses would be much of a deterrant! Earlier last spring, on my way into the pasture to feed my horses, I saw movement about 50' away, down by the fence. A coyote had been feeding on a deer carcass and jumped the 5' fence out of the pasture as I approached. Our theory was that a mtn lion killed the doe a few hours earlier and the coyote was just being an opportunistic feeder.

    All this took place about 100' from where I always feed my horses. Now, my llamas... they'd be pretty good predator protection if I could teach them to guard the chickens/ducks!
  8. wookiee

    wookiee Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 31, 2008
    I agree that horses may not intentionally protect the birds, but my horses make a big difference. Before I moved them in, we would see lots of critters walking around the coop. Now the coop is surrounded on three sides by horse pasture. Even in the snow, I don't see any tracks around the coop.


    Coop is in the middle.

    My big gelding runs dogs out of the pasture so I know he would run other critters as well. He watches the chickens and will stand next to the coop listening to them and follows them. He is always aware of where they are. He's a big dominant horse so I am hoping, if needed, he will run anything out that is bothering the chickens. I wouldn't count on my old mare for protection though. She can't be bothered with the chickens and would run the other way if anything scary came about.

    The front of the coop faces the house so predators would need to come close to the house to get around the horses. So far, so good. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2009
  9. ml

    ml Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 4, 2007
    As soon as the horse left the barn , the snake came in to take eggs and chicks. A donkey may be a much better guard.

  10. horsejody

    horsejody Squeaky Wheel

    Feb 11, 2008
    Waterloo, Nebraska
    I have seen raccoons walk right by my horses. They seem to coexist peacefully, so I doubt they would be much of a deterrent.

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