This is an exciting time for me on my homestead. I recently acquired an African Gray goose, and now I am getting a cow and a lamb in two days, and a pregnant sheep in one month. That’s a big jump in animals for me considering I have only raised chickens before. So, when contemplating where to put these newbies, I had to consider whether they can be raised alongside chickens or needed to be kept separate. All of which brought up my main question: what animals can be raised with chickens?
Animals that can be Raised with Chickens
Geese can be raised with chickens. In fact, a lot of homesteaders get a goose as a “guard dog”. Geese are very loud and can raise the alarm to any newcomer, whether it be a predator or just their homeowner (i.e. me). They are friendly creatures and like to have company. So long as geese have access to their own source of feed and their own supply of water, geese and chickens interact together very well. It’s recommended that geese and chickens do not share the same housing, so it’s best to give geese their own separate area for sleeping.
Goats can also be raised with chickens. However, they should not be kept together in the same housing. They are compatible in that chickens can help to pick up and forage after goats have eaten, picking up little specks of grain that the goats dropped. Do ensure that the goats are kept in a secure pen, as they are mischievous and are escape artists.
In fact, my neighbor’s goat escapes every day to come and visit with me and my chickens. He comes over so much that my goose doesn’t even acknowledge his presence anymore. I believe it’s safe to say that goats can be raised with chickens and geese with no pecking order needing to be re-arranged.
One thing to be aware about raising goats with chickens is that goats may contain a parasite called Cryptosporidium, which can be transferred between species. It’s usually spread through contaminated drinking water, feces, or soiled bedding. Keeping the goats and chickens in separate housing should keep this problem to a minimum.
Sheep are great to be raised with chickens. They can also be kept together in the same pen. As sheep usually eat the top 2 inches of the grass, the chickens will eat what is left underneath, digging in the ground for the worms and bugs. Chickens will also help to spread around any sheep droppings, helping to create natural composting in the field. Be aware that if chicken feed contains cooper, this can be harmful to sheep and should not be fed to sheep.
Cows can be raised with chickens. The only caution would be to make sure that the chickens don’t get trampled underfoot. But usually chickens are smart enough to get out of the way. As with sheep, chickens can help to spread around cow manure, looking for any parasites such as larvae and maggots. Parasites are usually breed-specific, so the parasites are not harmful to chickens. In addition, cows will “pass” undigested feed, so the chickens will eat this as well (sorry if I just grossed you out).
However, if a cow has been given medication or a chemical dewormer, chickens should not be kept in the same area. Cow medication can be harmful and even kill a chicken.
Now, I’m not planning on getting horses any time soon, but horses can be raised with chickens without the horse even blinking an eye. As with cows, chickens will go through horse manure, digesting any parasites left behind. Horses and chickens are able to be free-ranged together, sharing the land and eating its’ goodies. However, as with cows, if horses have been given medication or a dewormer, chickens should be kept away.
Ducks can be raised in the same pen as chickens, but they should not share the same house or coop. They may have a disease potential that can be harmful to chickens. Be aware that ducks are messy creatures and like to play in water and mud, which is not an ideal environment for a chicken. In addition, some male ducks have a high libido and will go after chickens. This may cause chickens some stress if they are residing together. Apart from that, ducks and chickens are able to free range together successfully.
Turkeys are dominating creatures and like to be head of the pecking order. Even so, turkeys can be successfully raised with chickens. They should be given separate sleeping quarters and pens, but can free-range together during the day. Be aware that chickens can give turkeys a disease called blackhead. The disease can be prevented by keeping pens clean.
Guinea birds can be kept together with chickens in the pen and in the coop. That is, if you can catch them. Like geese, guinea birds are watchdogs and are very loud. Guinea are special in that they can mate with chickens. However, their offspring will be “sterile”. If you want to see what they look like, go here. It’s very interesting!
As much as I would love to raise peacocks, they require 80 square feet of coop per bird. In addition, they are very loud, louder than guinea fowl or geese. But their beauty is undeniable! If you’ve even seen an all-white peacock, it’s absolutely gorgeous.
Peacocks and chickens can be raised together in the same coop and run. However, if peacocks are mating or breeding, they prefer to be loners and do not like other animals to be around.
Emus are large birds that require a lot of space in the run. They are dominating birds and may see chickens as a threat to their pecking order if they are introduced incorrectly. Apart from that, once a pecking order has been established, they can be kept together in the run.
Animals that Cannot be Raised with Chickens
Pigs and chickens cannot be raised together. They create their own disease which will infect chickens. In addition, if you haven’t noticed, pigs are omnivores and will eat your chickens. Not a good idea to keep the two together.
Rabbits should not be housed or free-ranged together with chickens. Chickens can infect rabbits and rabbits can infect chickens. Salmonella in chickens will infect rabbits. Rabbits carry the disease of pasteurellosis, which can infect and kill chickens.
As you can see, the majority of farm animals can be raised with chickens. Just do your research before introducing a new animal to your chicken flock to ensure that diseases will not be spread around to keep your animals happy and healthy.