Keeping a backyard flock is truly fun. You get loads of eggs and some comedic relief once in a while. Plus, you can use your chickens to get rid of some of those table scraps that you wouldn’t use to cook. That said, you may wish to bring home some companions for your chickens, or you may already have a farm and wonder if a new flock will get along with your sheep, goats, and turkeys. What animals can live with chickens happily and safely? Let’s find out.
What Animals Can Live With Chickens?
When deciding whether to have other animals living with your chickens, some of the best options are animals that are the same size and temperament as your fowl. Many animals can cohabit with chickens, especially when socialized early in life.
Ducks and chickens can often coexist peacefully, and they can even share a coop and run area. Having ducks and chickens free-ranging in the yard at the same time is smart, too, because ducks will eat some things that chickens do not touch. In other words, there is enough food in the yard for everyone, resulting in less competition and fewer ruffled feathers.
One thing to keep in mind is that ducks require a different diet and water source than chickens, so they should have their own feeders and waterers. Furthermore, you must be careful about keeping male ducks, as they can be aggressive around your hens. Sometimes, chickens will chase baby ducks around, so be sure to keep the children separated from the mature chickens and ducks until they are big enough to fend for themselves.
You can also watch this great video about chickens and ducks singing:
Guinea fowl are often kept with chickens as they are both social animals and can alert each other of potential dangers.
However, guinea fowl can be noisy and may have different dietary requirements than chickens. Obviously, chickens can be noisy, too, so if you live somewhere near neighbors, you may not want to mix these two kinds of fowl.
Another thing to keep in mind is that chickens and guinea fowl can crossbreed, resulting in sterile offspring.
Another kind of bird that coexists peacefully with chickens are turkeys. Turkeys and chickens will enjoy roaming an area together. Since turkeys are larger, they will not have any issue with pushier hens or roosters, as well.
One downside to keeping turkeys is that they require a lot more space than your typical Wyandotte or Silkie. They also require a different kind of diet; this is essential if you are raising both your chickens and turkeys for meat.
As long as you provide your rabbits with a separate living space, water, and food, you can certainly have rabbits running around the chicken run. One thing that you should not do, however, is expose baby rabbits to chickens. Out of curiosity, chickens will peck at the newborn rabbits, potentially injuring or killing them. That said, rabbits and chickens generally enjoy each other’s company.
Dog and Cats
This recommendation is more or less of a gray zone. If you find a stray cat or dog that has never been around a chicken before, it is not a good idea to let them mingle. Dogs and cats may see the chickens as prey, resulting in injuries or fatalities.
On the other hand, both cats and dogs can be socialized to enjoy the company of chickens from a young age. If you expose a kitten or puppy to chickens right away, there will be no problem. It is important to monitor the tendencies of your pets and decide if they have the right temperament to live alongside chickens.
Other Livestock, Like Cows and Horses
If you have a small backyard farm (or even a large one, for that matter), you may have a pot-bellied pig, a cow, goats, sheep, or a couple of horses. Generally, chickens and other farm animals get along well. You do not have to worry about your other animals threatening the chickens or hurting them. That said, there are things to keep in mind:
- Space: Chickens and larger livestock require different amounts of space. It’s important to ensure that the living area is large enough to accommodate all animals comfortably.
- Predators: Cows and horses do not pose a threat to chickens, but they may attract other predators such as coyotes or foxes. It’s important to provide adequate protection for the chickens from potential predators.
- Diet: Chickens have different dietary needs than cows and horses, so they should be provided with their own feeders and waterers.
- Manure: Chickens will eat insects, larvae, and other small creatures from the manure of cows and horses. However, it’s important to prevent the chickens from overeating manure, which can lead to health issues.
What Animals Should Not Live With Chickens?
There are some animals that are not suitable to be kept with chickens, as they can pose a risk to the chickens’ health and safety.
If you are one of those people who have a predatory bird, such as a hawk or eagle, as a companion, do not keep chickens. These creatures see chickens as prey and cannot be trained otherwise. Whenever there are predatory birds around, you should provide enough protection for the flock, such as cover or netting.
Although chickens and reptiles have a common ancestor, they do not get along. Depending on the size of the snake, they may either go after the eggs, the chicks, or a full grown chicken.
As cute as a pet rat, mouse, or hamster may be, they should not be allowed to intermingle with your chickens. Rats and mice carry all kinds of diseases, even ones from the pet store.
Considerations When Choosing Which Animals to Keep With Chickens
When deciding which animals to keep with chickens in the backyard, there are several important considerations to take into account. Here are some of the most important:
- Temperament: The temperament of the other animals is an important consideration. Chickens are generally docile and may be intimidated or harmed by more aggressive animals. It’s important to choose animals that are gentle and unlikely to harm the chickens.
- Size: The size of the other animals is also an important consideration. Larger animals, such as cows or horses, may accidentally harm or kill chickens if they step on them or move too quickly around them. Smaller animals, such as rabbits or ducks, may be better companions for chickens.
- Diet: The dietary needs of the other animals should also be taken into account. Some animals, such as goats or pigs, may try to eat the chickens’ feed or eggs, which can be harmful to the birds.
- Space: The amount of space available for the animals is an important consideration. Chickens and their companions need enough space to move around and exercise comfortably.
- Health: The health of the other animals is also an important consideration. Sick animals can easily spread disease to chickens, which can be fatal. Also, there are some diseases that may be transmitted from one animal to the next, such as the disease called blackhead that affects turkeys.
By carefully considering these factors and choosing appropriate animal companions for chickens, you can create a safe and happy backyard environment for all your animals.
Final Thoughts on Companions for Chickens
Chickens are curious but docile birds that can make friends with just about anyone or any animal, given the right environment. The best choices for animals to keep alongside chickens are other birds, such as ducks and turkeys, though they also get along with goats, sheep, dogs, and cats. Keep in mind that all animals should be adequately socialized before attempting to let them mix. Now, you can have a happy little farm!
Valerie has been content writing since 2016 for websites and companies all around the world. A traveler, dancer, martial artist, Valerie loves gathering experiences and wisdom. Her travels have taken her to over 20 countries, and she hopes to see more of the world soon.