What should “live” with chickens?
When it comes to housing in the coop, really only chickens should roost together. Other poultry, such as ducks and geese, can be housed with chickens, but have different requirements. Waterfowl require a good water supply, and a place to sleep that isn’t under roosting chickens!
Turkeys sometimes are housed with chickens, however, there is a disease called blackhead to worry about. Blackhead only affects turkeys, and is spread from chicken to turkey.
HOWEVER, if you let your chickens out to free range everyday, they can peacefully coexist with all farm animals!
Dogs, horses, goats, cats, rabbits, ducks, you name it- all can get along together!
Chickens and Other Fowl
Despite the occasional dispute over feed, most all poultry can exist together in a free range yard. At our house, I let all my birds out in the morning; grown hens, roosters, ducks, a turkey, even a mama hen with her baby chicks! They all come running to the garden shed! They know where the food is! I toss out some scratch into the grass, and everyone goes wild! There may be the occasional scuffle, but overall, everyone has a place in the pecking order and gets enough snacks to eat.
Male turkeys are notorious for getting into fights with roosters. It can become a fighting match to the death if they aren’t kept separate. Just keep and eye out for any bad fighting, but otherwise, you should be good!
Chickens and Dogs
Perhaps the most difficult cohabitation (at first), is between chickens and dogs. Dogs are natural predators and will show an interest in new chickens. Behavior where the dog focuses in on the chickens must be quickly nipped in the bud! It is up to you as the owner to reprimand your dog as soon as they so much as look at the chickens. Sniffing through the fence is okay, but if you see your dog lock eyes on a bird and put its ears up, time to scold! With enough scolding, your dog will quickly learn to ignore the chickens. The first time you let your birds out, be there to correct any unwanted attention from your dog. Dogs give very subtle clues when they are interested in a prey item. -Ears raised, staring, tail straight, and focused attention.- With a few corrections your dogs will quickly learn to ignore the chickens completely.
We have 5, yes 5, dogs at home! We certainly didn’t mean to end up with this many, but I am a sucker for strays. All of our dogs get along fine with the chickens. We have 2 Great Danes, a Mountain Feist, and 2 herding dog mixes. The herding dogs were the most difficult to train.
Just stick with it, and your dogs will quickly learn their place.
Chickens and Goats, Horses, and Cattle
Some of the most gentle animals to live with chickens are those of herbivore variety. Goats, horses, and cattle really have no problems with chickens at all. They are happy to let the birds peck around their feet! Chickens love to find crickets that large livestock stir up when walking. Chickens also love to hang around feed pans at feeding time to pick up any morsels dropped. Another plus to having chickens with large hoof stock, is manure spreading. Chickens (even though it sounds gross!), love to peck through manure and scratch it around. This aids in quick decomposition and helps tidy the pasture!
Chickens and Children
This one is partly a joke, but let it be known that chickens and children can happily exist in the yard together! Teach your children or grandchildren to be slow and friendly with the hens. Avoid chasing or yelling. Soon, your chickens will be best friends with the chickens and they will be following each other around all day!
Some days I look out into my yard and realize just how lucky I am! The beauty of our little farm, with an array of animals walking around together and enjoying themselves, really is a beautiful sight! Goats browsing on the brush, chickens pecking in the grass, dogs lounging nearby in the shade, and a fat pony grazing in the garden. Peace in the farmyard is possible with a little work, and you will always have a sanctuary at home to return to! You’ll never want to leave!