If you’re an animal lover, raising chickens will not only entertain you, but you can also earn good money if you’re doing the correct strategies. And at some point, you may also be thinking of adding animals which is a good idea. However, it’s not as simple as you think and there are lots of factors to be considered. First of all, animals have different behaviors, and mixing chickens with other animals right away may cause them stress. On the other hand, there are a lot of benefits not only for your chickens but for you as well. So before you even think about it, here are some useful tips that can help you decide.
Table of Contents
- 1 Why Will You Add Other Animals to your Chickens?
- 2 Do You Have Enough Money to Support Their Needs?
- 3 Do You Have Enough Space for Them?
- 4 Do You Have Enough Time For Them?
- 5 Mixing Other Poultry Animals With Your Chickens
- 6 Keeping Domestic Animals With Your Chickens
- 7 Keeping Big Animals With Your Chickens
- 8 Conclusion
Why Will You Add Other Animals to your Chickens?
First and foremost, ask yourself, “Why will I add animals to my chickens?” Do you need it or do you just want it? Will you add animals because you want additional protection for your chickens? Or you just love to take care of them along with your chickens? By answering these questions, you will find it easier to choose which animals you should pick.
Do You Have Enough Money to Support Their Needs?
Adding animals means additional investment, and some of them require high maintenance. Even if you have extra money to buy them, you should also consider how much you will spend on their feeds and vitamins and if they get sick. In some cases, you might also need helpers, and of course, you need to pay them. Therefore, you should do some basic accounting before making a decision.
Do You Have Enough Space for Them?
Aside from the additional expenses, you should also have enough space for these animals. If you plan to have dogs, you may not need so much space. On the other hand, a horse needs a lot of space for walking and other activities. Some animals also need separate housing and shelter. You should also know the laws in your area regarding animal husbandry. Some areas may have specific rules for keeping cattle and waste management.
Do You Have Enough Time For Them?
Even if you have the money and space for the additional animals, they will be useless if you have no time for them. Note that you will also have to feed them, pasture them, and closely monitor their health. And sometimes, you need to attend to them almost at the same time. Yes, you may pass some obligations to your helpers. But how sure are you that they know to do them properly? Are you sure they are following your instructions? At the end of the day, the responsibility is all yours and you need to balance your time. So if your time is only enough for your chickens, you are likely to have no more time for the additional animals.
Mixing Other Poultry Animals With Your Chickens
Logically speaking, it’s better to add other poultry animals to your chicken than mammals. Being in the same family of feathered animals will make it easier for you in attending to their needs. Geese, ducks, turkeys, and guinea fowl are ideal for joining chickens in one place. In fact, you can free-range them at the same time because they bond easily. As the saying goes, birds of the same feathers folk together. However, you should have a separate place for them during feeding time. This is not only to avoid them from fighting for food, but their diet might also be different from your chickens. Also, avoid adding one animal only to your chickens. If you add a duck to your flock of chickens, it might suffer from bullying. Likewise, most chickens are territorial and may not like to mix with other fowls. Nevertheless, the most common problem with adding other fowl to your chicken is security. To help prevent predators from attacking them, your fence is should be high enough.
Adding Ducks to Your Chickens
Adding ducks to your flock of chickens is a good idea because they usually get along instantly. First of all, they eat the same foods. But because ducks love water, add water to their feeds will help in reducing food waste. As you may know now by now, chickens have their social status called pecking order. The problem usually arises when introducing new chickens to them. But if you will add ducks to them, chickens don’t consider them as threats. They don’t mind sharing space with them and vice versa. Ducks don’t need a pond unless they are domesticated. They only need deep water where they can submerge their head. Make sure that the chickens will not go there or else, they might get drown by accident. On the other hand, health should be some sort of concern since ducks are less susceptible to respiratory diseases as compared to chickens. Nevertheless, you should still provide separate housing for them. Ducks are more active at night than chickens and you don’t your chickens to be disturbed while they are sleeping. Ducks also love to sleep on the coop floor and tend to nest under the chicken roost. To avoid mess, you might want to put a tray under the roost. And if you have new ducklings, it’s better not to mix them with adult chickens to avoid them from bullying.
Adding Turkeys to Your Chickens
It’s easy to raise turkeys and chickens together because they have almost the same needs. While there are many varieties of turkey breeds, there is only one breed of domestic turkey, Meleagris gallopavo. Adding turkeys to a group of chickens has no much difference as compared to mixing ducks and chicken. However, turkeys are bigger than chickens so it’s easy for them to attack chickens. So just like ducks, you should have a separate home for them. Ideally, an average-sized turkey should have about 6-square feet of space. And because of their size, they also require more ventilation, especially during hotter months. If you are going to free-range your turkeys and chickens, it would be better if you install a fence that’s about six feet tall. This is not because turkeys love to perch on taller heights. If your fence is too low, they might jump off, and their feet might land on your chickens. Also, poults (baby turkeys) are not as smart as chicks. They eat sawdust so don’t use it for their bedding. They also hardly recognize water so you have to dip their beaks into the water to help them drink. To protect from being harmed by your flock, introduce them only if they are big enough to fight back.
Adding Geese to Your Chickens
If you are planning to add geese to your flock of chickens, it’s like hiring tough guards because part of their instincts is being protective. In most cases, a guardian goose will hiss or scream if they saw a hawk flying over them. They can also fight raccoons, skunks, and small snakes. Although their watchdog behavior is a great advantage, it is also a double-edged sword. Geese are not fond of being cuddled and hand-fed. They can also attack a human visitor or even you as their owner. In general, geese are territorial waterfowl and have an excellent foraging ability. And just like ducks, they love ponding in water and eat watery foods. They also love to sleep on the ground. And just like ducklings, goslings (baby goose) also love water and are messy-eaters. For these reasons, you should do the same safety measures as if you are adding ducks. Other than that, adding geese to your chickens is a very good idea.
Adding Guinea Fowl to Your Chickens
Just like geese, guinea fowl are also great in protecting your chickens and can alert you if they sense danger. However, they are not fully domesticated and tend to be more independent which is why you should make some adjustments. Mixing guinea fowl with your flock of chickens together is not likely to pose a big problem. Aside from being a good protector, they also hunt for bugs and mice that may eat your chicken eggs. However, taking care of them needs a different approach. Guinea fowl are considered wild birds, and therefore can be aggressive any time. You may also need a bigger space for them and far away from neighbors because they can be excessively noisy. They also prefer to live in a “permanent” house which means moving them from one place to another frequently is like driving them away. Keets (baby guinea fowl) are somehow more challenging to take care of than chicks. They may be cute but are chirpy and clumsy. They easily get excited for no reason at all and are prone to accidents. Therefore, you should always keep an eye on them.
Keeping Domestic Animals With Your Chickens
Some domestic animals and pets can be kept along with your chickens, especially if you have time and money. But before you do, here are some tips that can help you with possible problems.
Cats With Chickens
Some people may suggest that cats and birds are not compatible. But in most cases, it’s not true. Come to think of it, cats can protect your chickens by chasing mice. As you may probably know, mice and rodents might not only harm them and eat their eggs, and they may also be carrying some infectious diseases. Cats are also unlikely to attack chickens. However, they tend to kill and eat chicks. Therefore, you should not let your cat go near them. These felines are also super curious about anything. The more you hide anything from them, the more curious they are. So it would be better you will introduce your pet cat to your chickens, you should observe its reaction very closely.
Dogs With Chickens
Some dogs are very friendly while others have predatory instincts. In short, dogs and chickens can be perfect partners or have a predator-prey relationship. To start with, understand the natural behaviors of the breed of your dog before introducing it to your chickens. Dogs also have a common goal – to please and protect their masters. With this, you must train them well. However, trained dogs get furious in some situations. For example, don’t allow your chicken to peck your sleeping dog. Also, avoid them going near while the dogs are eating and when they have just given birth! If you have a new puppy, introduce it to your chicken as early as possible.
Rabbits With Chickens
Rabbits can go along with chickens well, but it is more challenging than adding the other cats and dogs. First of all, bunnies are fast-moving animals. Chickens will become active while chasing them. On the other hand, adult rabbits may attack them. Second, they don’t have the same requirements in terms of nutrients. Too much calcium can harm rabbits and foods that are high in fiber are not good for chickens. The key here is to make sure that they have a separate place to eat. Chickens also tend to poop on the rabbit’s food or eat them. Therefore, both of them can easily contact diseases with each other. Aside from keeping them separated at most times, you should also closely monitor their activities separately.
Keeping Big Animals With Your Chickens
Aside from small animals, some big animals can also work well with chickens.
Goats (and Sheep) With Chickens
Goats (and sheep) can also have a good bonding with chickens. Although neither of them can actively protect them from predators, they may help prevent them from attacking your chickens especially if they wear bells on their necks. However, health will be a major issue if you don’t separate them properly. Goats love to eat chicken feeds but unknowingly, they might suffer from diarrhea. In worst cases, they might die. On the other hand, chickens are unlikely to get sick if they eat goat food such as hays. But if you allow them to poop on hays and goats eat them, the goat will easily get sick. As a solution, keep your chicken feed away from the goats and house them separately.
Horses, Cows, and Donkeys With Chickens
Horses, cows, and donkeys may be too big to go along with chickens, but they do. As a matter of fact, chickens love to run around them in fields and peck flies on their backs. Horses and cattle are also messy eaters and are not good at digesting their food. Therefore, chickens help save them from eating grains. They also eat grains from cow pies. Nevertheless, their huge size can also be a disaster to chickens. Although very rare, these large animals sometimes step on them by accident and they easily die.
Is it Ok to Have Pigs and Chickens Together?
A lot of experienced chicken breeders will tell you to never mix pigs with chickens. On the other hand, some of them claim that these two animals can go along together.
Now, let’s tackle some of the major pros and cons:
- Chickens eat bugs, thus helping the pigs to keep away from them.
- Pigs spread the soil around, exposing parasites to sunlight and eventually killing them.
- Once they become friends, pigs tend to scare predators away.
- Pigs don’t need calcium as much as chickens do, and they will get sick if they eat grains.
- Most pig breeds are aggressive and may attack your chickens for no reason at all.
- Pigs (especially the hungry ones) eat chickens and chicken eggs. Once they have eaten one, it’s hard for you to stop them.
- Diseases can easily be spread to each other
You will notice that there are major disadvantages while the advantages are only minor.
To sum up, everything, the most important part when adding animals to chickens is separation. They should have their place or coop and separate feeds as much as possible. Space is also a huge factor, as well as health and safety. Therefore, you should be paying attention to every detail.