Whether you have backyard chickens or rural chickens, it’s important to know what other animals they do or don’t get along with. We have your usual farm animals along with some unexpected animals that people may have around chickens.
So, let’s dive in to see how our yardbirds get on around other warm-blooded species (and a few cold-blooded!) If you’re still in the process of setting up your coop, read this guide.
Farms and chickens go hand in hand. Little do we think about the fact that there may be some farm animals that either don’t like chickens, or chickens don’t like them.
One would automatically assume poultry (regardless of species) get along. Many farmers do have chickens and turkeys living side-by-side. However, those birds were most likely introduced to each other in a slow effective manner rather than throwing them together.
Ironically, turkeys are not into the drama of squawking that chickens get into. Chickens would rather spend a good 5 minutes getting worked up over something, whereas a turkey just walks away. So, how does this principle apply to the two different birds?
Well, turkeys are a bit more docile compared to chickens. However, this doesn’t mean a turkey won’t go to pecking at a chicken here and there or vice versa.
What can happen is male turkeys may decide to mate with a chicken. This can cause significant injury to the chicken because of the turkey’s size.
Something else to take into consideration is the size of a coop when housing both chickens and turkeys. Turkeys require a lot more room than chickens, and an overcrowded coop causes pecking between the birds.
Goats and chickens roam a shared space, and they are happy to coexist provided you follow a few essential guidelines for health and safety.
The first rule of thumb is to separate their food. Goats love to eat chicken food; however, they’ll end up with diarrhea and bloat if they overeat, and if symptoms become severe, the consequence is death. Chickens do not face the same problems if they eat the goat’s food.
While the vision of your chickens sitting on the goat’s manger is picturesque, we can assure you once their droppings fall into the manger full of fresh hay, your goat will stick up their nose and not eat another bite.
As for housing, you may not have a large yard or a barn, but that’s not a problem as long as they are on opposite sides of the property; reducing their time together prevents injuries, especially to chickens. Goats have been known to jump off walls and unintentionally land on a chicken.
Some diseases are transferable between goats and chickens; Cryptosporidiosis and salmonella. Crypto is fatal to kids (goats) and is not uncommon in young chickens. Keep your mama goats in clean spaces so their udders don’t get infected and pass anything onto their kids.
By now, you may be wondering if keeping them together is even possible, and the answer is yes. Chickens and goats provide each other company and may develop strong friendships. One bonus, chickens eat the bugs and parasites that call your goat’s home their own.
Generally, chickens do get along with ducks from a social standpoint, particularly in a free-ranging environment. However, ducks have different needs than chickens.
Ducks and chickens require different diets, and it is dangerous for ducks to eat chicken feed treated with any type of medicine. However, ducks eat what chickens don’t. For instance, ducks eat garden snails, slugs, and grass. A chicken will put their beak up to these fine duck delicacies.
Both chickens and ducks enjoy clean drinking water but beware of the source. Ducks love to swim and, as such, require some type of water source such as a pond. If chickens get too close to large sources of water, they canl drown.
Ducks are larger than the average chicken; therefore, your chickens must have an area, such as their coop, where only they may venture. There will be times they want to step away from the larger ducks.
As with any fowl, numerous diseases are transmittable, whether chicken to chicken or chicken to duck. It is advisable not to house chickens and ducks together to avoid cross-contamination of their living quarters.
The potential for transmittable diseases will always be a risk; chickens and ducks can roam with one another.
Chickens are social birds who get along with most farm animals. Chickens and cows not only cohabitate but provide mutual benefits to each other.
You may worry that your cows might step or lie on an unaware chicken. However, you need not worry too much. For the most part, cows ignore chickens. Accidents will happen; chickens can quickly get under hoof.
Cows, in general, do not digest grains very well, and what comes out gets eaten by the chickens. In the winter months, your chickens and cows share the hay and straw. The chickens scratch and eat any grain the cows missed. Another benefit besides the reduction of flies, chickens spread cow manure which keeps the grass growing.
Cows protect the chickens from predators, such as hawks, eagles, foxes, or coyotes. The large profile of a cow tends to act as an umbrella of protection for nearby chickens.
As for feeding your cows and chickens, like most animals, cows like their food clean, without debris or chicken droppings. Please take into consideration keeping their eating areas separate. It is also dangerous for chickens to ingest any chemicals, such as dewormers, so keep your cows and chickens apart if you have any doubts.
Sheep have no problems sharing their space with chickens. However, this is provided you meet each animal’s specific needs.
Sheep are picky eaters and will not eat any food contaminated by chicken droppings. Sheep won’t even eat from a pasture where another animal did their business and chickens do their business everywhere. They are pretty indiscriminate where they go.
While both chickens and sheep have no problems ranging together, they require separate eating spaces and living quarters. Sheep do best when their living quarters are more significant than the typical chicken yard.
Sheep are not, as most may think, completely docile. Many enjoy playing and, if in the same enclosure as chickens, could hurt or kill a chicken. Chickens tend to wander underfoot, making them a sheep’s unintentional target.
As for their food, sheep demand a clean living space, and chickens are dirty housekeepers. However, chickens help keep sheep clean from various parasites by picking through sheep manure. They believe sheep worms and fly larvae are yummy snacks.
You might say that chickens and pigs share the same uncaring attitude towards cleanliness. Neither worries about where they relieve themselves nor what kind of condition they eat, sleep and live in. Although they are the same in that aspect, they are two unique animals.
Those of us with backyard chickens probably don’t have pigs because of the lack of room and city ordinances. However, in rural areas on farms, pigs and chickens happily coexist. The two have their own spaces to sleep in; one a coop, one a pen. Combining the two would never work; trust us!
When your chickens and pigs are in your community of farm animals, it’s important to consider that chickens may get into the pig’s food if they free-range. Pig food is not designed for chickens and can cause serious issues. Additionally, the fact that swine disease and poultry disease may be transmittable between the two should be considered.
Something else to take into consideration is the size of the pig. If your chickens happen to be underfoot or near a pig, there’s a high risk of them getting trampled on, kicked, or laid on. A heavy 300-pound pig is no match for a five-pound chicken.
Donkeys are persnickety animals who can be moody, curious, and downright mean at times. As grumpy as they may get, they can be great guardians for fellow farm animals. A donkey is highly territorial, and if a flock of chickens happens to be in the donkey’s piece of real estate, it will guard those chickens.
It’s not unusual to find chickens and donkeys living happily together. In fact, if a chicken can flap its wing to gain enough lift, it may discover the back of a donkey to be a great perch.
Now, not all donkeys share the same symbiotic relationship with chickens. In fact, a donkey who isn’t properly introduced to chickens can end up being a foe rather than a friend. Those “foes” will perceive chickens underfoot as pests and end up kicking them, nipping them, or trampling them.
Many of us who happen to own a donkey come to love and treat it as a pet. Our pets form a connection with us, and when other animals come into the equation, they may feel the need to protect us against those animals.
Dogs and cats are your typical pets in question. However, there’s a bunch of other types of pets people with chickens have. But do they get along, or should we be concerned?
Who doesn’t love a bunny rabbit? Rabbits and chickens can cohabit in the same area but not in the same coop/hutch. They must have separate quarters. Properly introducing them to one another is the best way to ensure they get along.
Chickens tend to peck at young rabbits making them highly vulnerable to injury. Small rabbits and juvenile bunnies should never be placed together with chickens. Rabbits prefer cleaner environments, whereas chickens really don’t care.
The last thing you would expect is a male buck rabbit trying to mate with a hen, and yes, it can happen if the buck isn’t neutered. The hard kicks of a buck against a small hen can cause serious injuries.
Chickens getting into rabbit pellets and vice versa; rabbits getting into chicken feed can cause a host of health problems. Disease is something else to take into consideration because of transmission from animal to animal.
Now we come to one animal most of you ask about. There’s quite a bit that factors into whether chickens get along with dogs or not. We should rephrase that; dogs getting along with chickens. They are, however, the dominating animal between the two.
The breed of a dog greatly influences how they will do around chickens. Many breeds are instinctive hunting tendencies that are a part of their DNA, and there’s nothing we can do to change that. Such breeds include Labradors, hounds, Weimaraners, Siberian Huskies, Jack Russell Terriers, pointers, spaniels, and water dogs, to name a few.
It’s important that if you are going to have dog(s) and chickens, you choose a breed of dog that is a livestock herding dog who is more prone to protect than attack. Great Pyrenees, Australian Kelpie, Border Collies, and Anatolian Shepherd are a few that have proven to do well around chickens.
There’s never a guarantee that any dog, regardless of breed, won’t harm your chickens. Training your dog, having a breed that’s prone to do well with chickens, and monitoring them around chickens are safety measures that we as dog owners can be proactive in doing to protect our yard birds.
On the flip side, if you have a miniature dog such as a chihuahua, chickens will tend to peck at them, causing the dog to become frightened and anxious. Fear can cause dogs to react in attacking the chickens.
Cats are, by nature, bird villains and won’t hesitate to attack chickens. Some farmers find that cats and chickens do coexist without issues; however, there may be things going on in the background the farmer may not be aware of.
Small chicks are easy targets with a cat around, and to simply put it; cats are more prone to enjoy a chick as a batting/chewing toy to be followed with being eaten.
However, like dogs, you can train your cats to leave the chickens alone, or at the very least, not eat them. If possible, it is best to raise the chickens and then add a cat to the family. When this is not possible, what kind of cat(s) you have will matter.
Most cats love just to laze around and perhaps hunt small animals and birds. For most cats, full-grown hens are way too much trouble. Cats have an uncanny talent of killing something and bringing it to us to present as a gift.
Cat owners find all kinds of interesting, gory items in the cushions of furniture or on the floor. Sometimes, these “kills” are still alive, so when your cat brings their “gift” indoors, whether it’s a mouse or snake, it will wander off once in your home. Not fun!
Lastly, if you have bantams, silkies, or chicks, there’s always going to be a risk when a cat is around.
Peacocks(male) and peahens (female) are by far some of the most stunning birds, thanks to their colorful array of feathers. You may even have a dream of one day having a couple roaming your property. Dreaming aside, chickens and peacocks can and do get along when both are free-ranging.
A peacock is not only beautiful but easy to raise and keep on a farm. They rarely stray from their territory. Peacocks coexist well with other fowl and will rarely attack anyone. They are omnivores. Their diet consists of plants, seeds, flower heads, insects, small mammals, amphibians, and reptiles (think snakes).
Chickens and peacocks can coexist but appreciate having a retreat away from each other; they need their own space. This is more important to the chickens than the peacocks, as chickens need a safe place at night where they can’t be hunted.
Peacocks are known to roost on roofs, cars, warm structures, and although they cannot fly long distances, you may see them up in your trees.
The biggest problem with raising chickens and peacocks side by side is the spread of disease. As with any animal, cleanliness helps prevent disease.
We couldn’t resist throwing in a few odd-ball pets that have been known to be “animal siblings” to pet chickens. This is especially true for backyard chickens.
Those of you who have pet pythons or other pet snakes, this one’s for you. Snakes are a predator of snakes, and unless your coop is fully protected against snakes, you will have to contend with them.
They typically eat the chicken eggs but won’t hesitate to devour a chick or small bantam. Although chickens may not pose a problem towards snakes, it’s best to keep the two separate.
Those slinky, curious little pet ferrets can be cute and entertaining. However, they are also predators and should never be around chickens. They won’t hesitate to kill chickens.
You’re probably wondering how lizards get into the equation with chickens. Well, believe it or not, there are lizard owners out there who may assume the two are okay to be around each other.
However, chickens will kill and eat small lizards. Large lizards (the size of cats) will, in turn, kill and eat chickens. So these two should never be near one another.
So, there you have it in a nutshell. Finding friends for your chickens should be done very carefully. Be sure to do a little research before you introduce chickens to new animals or vice versa.
We hope you’ve gotten enjoyed this article. Thanks for visiting, and Happy Chickening!