How do Pets and Chickens live together?
Mainly OK., but there are lessons learnt
As you see on the right, I have two cats; Mimi was here before the chickens arrived and Ginger after. We have two other cats down the lane, two daily visitors from the other side of the fields, we've had one ferel cat who lived in the derelict windmill and three other 'passers through'.
With all the above, we've not had one problem. When penned in they may occasionally sit outside the gate looking in, but this is usually to see if there are any tasty rats or mice going free (the very firm positive of having a feline friend).The cats and chickens roam around the garden quite freely together. To be honest, they seem to ignore each other. Neither of them share a common food interest. The cats like sitting on the bench and the chickens like it better underneath!
DOGSIf your chickens are in a Pen, a dog should be no problem. After the initial barking and general sillyness, things will settle down OK.
Should you wish your chickens to run pretty much free range, it really depends upon your dog. Some breeds are more hunter bred and you'll probably know from country walks with yours, what they chase etc. If you are confident in your training, any problems could be avoided by gentle introduction.
It's not so much your dog which could be the problem, but someone elses. I've lost two chickens to passing dogs and seeing this happen is not pretty, albeit they should have been on a lead or obediant to their owners "No".
Farm dogs are no problem of course. They aren't just trained by their owners, but by their own parents as well.
The advantage of having an appropriate dog is thaey're also good to have around for any predators such as Foxes or Minks etc.
Introducing a New Pet
Big Ron - Guard Duty
Some people get new dogs and cats when they're very young and introducing them to chickens shouldn't be much of a problem, just the want of playing which the chickens may not appreciate too much!! But if you're like me and tend to get rescued or adult pets, there may be a few problems, but like all things, they usually sort themselves out
Last year we took in an adult male cat who had obviously had a bit of a rough ride. 'Big Ron' is an enormous male black cat and weighs in at 1stone 4lbs!
When he first ventured out into the garden (after two days because he head butted the locked cat flap open!!), he'd make his way straight up the garden, sat outside the chicken run, growl, spit. There was no question that if he had half the chance, he'd be having a tasty supper every night for a couple of weeks!
We decided to just let things be. He couldn't get in and they couldn't get out.
As the weeks went on, this became less and less and the most common reason for him going up there was to look for rats and mice!
Then one day, I was in the Pen doing a few odd jobs when I noticed a dark shape behind me. It was Ron just sitting right in the middle with the chickens just walking around him with no problems atall. Since then he often follows me up the garden and comes in the Pen with me and it's still 'peace brothers and sisters'. I'd go so far as to say he has become protective of them.
I'd guess the same would apply to a dog. It's just patience and allowing them to do it in their own time. Oh sweet harmony.
Let's face it - they just can't be bothered!!
Added November 2008 - I have recently come across instances of people allowing dogs to carry chickens around in their mouth's. The general opinion is that the chickens don't mind and it's amusing to watch. I'm afraid that I, along with many others, totally disagree with this. Eventually a chicken is going to die, either through shock or by some distraction which will lead the dog to killing the Hen. This has happened and if it hasn't yet, it's almost a certainty that it will.
When a chicken stoops down, it is not because it wants to be picked up, it's because it's submitting, exactly the same as it would do upon coming face to face with a Fox.
If we allow our chickens to 'free range' in the Garden and have a dog, you must be there the whole time and make sure the above never happens.