Should your horses and chickens hang out?
- Well, yes. But a certain amount of due diligence is wise here. Chickens are great to have around the barnyard – and I find them super cute and funny. Not to mention their eggs – yummy!
Things are even more awesome when you add goats, too! More on goats here.
Here’s why I love chickens and horses together at the barn:
- The obvious cuteness factor. And the obvious delicious fresh egg factor.
- Bug control. Chickens will eat just about anything, bugs are definitely on the menu. Not to mention larvae, eggs, and even rodent nests. Have a tick problem? Mow that tall grass and send in the chickens.
- Messy eater control. Have a horse that loves to spill his feed? Chickens have it cleaned up in a jiffy. This will also save your horse from eating tiny grains off the sand, and there will be nothing left for any rodents to come and eat.
- Have a spooky horse? What better way to desensitize him to sounds and weird flappy movements than chickens!
- If you have a compost pile, chickens are great at scratching around them for bugs and worms. This also helps the manure compost as it spreads.
Precautions about horses and chickens:
- Horses should not eat chicken feed or chicken poop that has been dropped on hay or grain. And, if your horse is anything like mine, he will if given the chance. Monensin is an additive to cow and chicken feeds that can kill a horse in a day or so. It’s awful.
- Chickens and other birds often carry mites or lice. Some are chicken-specific, and some may decide to jump ship and land on your horse or you.
- There’s also the chance of salmonella, but to be totally clear on the salmonella thing – it’s already everywhere, including the soil. If you are concerned, talk to your Veterinarian about salmonella.
Given these precautions, it’s probably best for your horse to live separately from your chickens.
- Keeping your chickens in a coop keeps them safe from hawks, hooves, and coyotes. But, I wonder if they would be a great addition to your rotating paddocks, you could let the chickens go bananas and party like it’s 1999 in a dormant paddock. They could pick up all of the bugs and larvae, and help spread any drying piles of manure.
You could also add a turkey into the mix!
How do you manage the chickens around your horses?