Keeping Chickens With Horses? Advice?

Holzdweaver

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Im wanting a few chickens to give my horse a little company and for a few other reasons too, but i have a few concerns which i could do with some advice on.

There are two gardens backing onto my field, im a bit worried that they will go over the fence and dry stone wall and cause a nuisance. Are they big wanderers? Or do they usually keep quite close to there shed? (field is roughly 1 1/2 acres)

Theres a river nearby, surely they are clever enough to not drown themselves in it?

There are a lot of pheasants in the area, would these class my field as their territory and attack my poor chickens? xD

Obviously if i did get some, id talk to an experienced person on how to look after them etc :)
 

Tickles

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I don't know much abt chickens (OH kept them, I haven't) but I do know that horses tend to ignore them... to the extent that little ones can get stood on quite easily if they are scratching round food bowls etc. So, by all means go for it but don't expect them to provide much company for the horse (you need another horse for that!). Should be fun though... and there are a few forums for poultry too.
 
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Yes, some chickens are stupid enough to drown themselves. They may also wander. You may also loose some to foxes. TBH it doesn't sound like a great set up for chickens, if you really want some you are better off fencing off a small area of the field and then creating a pen around their shed with chicken wire. They won't be any kind of companionship for a horse anyway.
 
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Shooting Star

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Aw, having chuks on the yard is great they used to entertain my old girl no end!

I'm definitely no chicken expert but have spent 10+ yrs on yards that have had dozens of chuks on them all totally free range being locked in for their safety at night but other than that could go where they pleased.

I've never known them go massively far from the where they are fed, we had some in a yard that was on a busy main road and I never knew them to go the 30 metres or so to the road but they would happily go further in the safe direction.
Also been on a more rural yard where they were kept in the stable next to mine and we had paddock in front of the stables that was a similar size to yours, don't recall seeing them making it to the boundary there either although some breeds wandered further than others - the bantams just headed for the nearest dusty patch and bathed! And if the field was wet and muddy forget it - they wanted to keep their feet dry and would stay on the yard or head into the barn.

They always seemed to be much better at getting through things than over them (not sure if they had clipped wings?) and whilst they would squeeze through a hedge I don't remember them ever attempting a solid hedge or wall but guess it depends on height - they did like sunning themselves on the picnic table!

Hopefully this will help a bit until the chuk experts turn up for you :)
 

Box_Of_Frogs

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By and large, they'll stay where the food is but as others have said, the real danger is from local foxes. We used to have rescued battery chickens on my yard but one by one the fox had them all. While they were still at the yard my veteran (with free range privileges) used to push them out of the way and steal their bread! If you're determined to get some I'd get a good book and then build or buy a secure coop. And secure from foxes is a real challenge. Our chooks only came out during the day when there were people around but the fox would brazenly dash in and run off with one right in front of me. And the vixen managed to squeeze through a gap in their stone walled coop (never did find the gap!) and slaughtered a dozen at once. Poor chooks - the survivors were terrified out of their wits and I don't blame them because a few days later, despite everything we did, vixen came back and slaughtered the rest, including our gorgeous and brave buff orpington rooster Chicken George. If it was me and your horse is being kept on his own I'd get a rescued shetland as a companion. Foxes don't kill shetlands, even tiny ones. But do remember that a shetland might need differemt management from your horse. Good luck x
 

millimoo

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We have hens...
Their summer abode is in the henhouse in a small croft 15 metres from our yard. They go through the paddock and on the lane, but ultimately hang around on the yard to see if there is any food. They'll also bob into the paddock for a scrat.
We move them into the stables in the winter as they hate the mud, and it makes it easier to shut them in at night(we have to movd them by hand to the croft if theyve stayed in the yard after dark in winter)
We often have a few extra heads, as 1-2 of the neighbours chooks like to join ours... Thankfully their ducks don't - feisty little beggars.
Our big 'bluebells' are pretty thick. One even fell in the duck pond, and could not get back up the ramp as she was too heavy. Thankfully mum found her up to her neck in water on the brink - half a day in a box on the Aga saved her.
As for foxes, we're incredibly fortunate that we don't have any. We suspect the local farmers are super efficient at getting rid if them - in 20 years I've never seen one. Yet when they lived in Essex, you'd see gangs of them every night. If you have them be prepared to lose them unless shut up in an enclosure.
As for company, I agree with the other post. I doubt they'll even register on your horses radar. I'd also be wary if chicken poo on the paddocks.
Finally, it's unlikely your hens will go over a 4ft 6 fence, but they will go through if there are gaps. None of our larger ladies can take off (too heavy). However we have one lean, mean egg laying machine who I've nicknamed roadrunner (she's thin and wick). She'll jump the stable door to get to her favourite nesting spot.
Go and have a chat with a local hen seller, or start off with 2-3 and see how you go.
 

Noodlebug

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We have Chickens at the yard and they run free. They are locked up at night but free to roam in the daytime. The fox has taken a few but if they are out it only tends to take one, if it gets into the pen then they all get it!! Something to do with the fox panicking?? We have had some chicks drown in their water but I am not sure about the older chickens.
 

Holzdweaver

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Thank you all very much for your input and advice everyone, nearly every yard i have been on has had chickens but they were just there lol, didnt take much notice of them to be honest as i didnt feed them and they put themselves into there shed at night, the most iv ever had to do is secure the door as i left if the yard owner was late xD

The reason why i was thinking of chickens is that we have a lot of pheasants and Darcy seems to quite like them, they are brazen little things round darcy and will stand in a circle round his feed bucket while he is eating to catch any bits he drops and he actively sniffs them (they just stand there lol), snorts at them, wanders round following them up the field and shoves them round with his muzzle if they get too close ie/ in his actual bucket lol. Hes never stood on any or anything, always careful iv found. once i saw them all lined up on the fence asleep while he was sleeping next to it, it was like a line up bless!

Unfortunately i have to watch from a distance as as soon as i go into the field they scatter and i was thinking it would be lovely if i could have chickens who would not run a mile if hes going to get on so well with feathered things.

Then again, is there any point getting chickens if he likes the pheasants so much?
I was thinking of getting a goat but all the goats i have had experiences with would get out of my field in about 0.2 seconds lol, as on one side the wall is low with two strands of wire which i have put offset insulators on with electric tape to keep darcy off, but i dont think it will be good enough for a nimble goat.

I was also thinking of a shetland but as he is on adlib haylage i wouldnt want a little one getting too fat and to paddock them off would kind of defeat the object, hes not on his own all year though, my pony is out on loan for the winter but comes back when the grass grows through. :)

Iv read a little on salmonella in horses from chickens but with such a big paddock i dont think thats going to be much of an issue.
 

NeverSayNever

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i have some chickens that free range about my horses - they charge over when the horses are fed and pinch bits out of the feed bucket. Horses get naffed off at them and glower but thats about it.

If you want them to stay in your field you would need a house for them to be locked safely in at night. The key is when you get them at first to maybe attach a small run to the house and keep them enclosed for a couple of weeks until they learn where their bed is. that way they will be less likely to wander off ;) After a couple of weeks you could let them free range and they will go back to the house at dusk by themselves.

Also, if you clip their wings (one wing each, the first few flight feathers) they wont fly up over the fence into the neighbours garden.
 

Mlini

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We have chickens on my yard. My horse seems to quite like them :D When it's raining, they all go into his barn to keep him company. They never stray to the road, even if the gate is left open. And are kept in a stable overnight away from the foxes! I've never known any drown - we have a couple of streams bordering the fields. Saying that, I've never seen them stray into the fields. Or the arena. They just seem to hang around in the hay barn where it's warm. Or the carpark in summer. I can't really see them being good company for a horse, as at this time of year they will probably :D :D
 

wyrdsister

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My advice would be don't! But then I've had two of my horses injure chickens. My old boy used to herd them into his stable and corner them, then pick them up in his teeth and throw them! (In his defence, I think he thought chicken hurling was some new kind of game!) I also had a lovely hunter type, who would stamp on them if they came near his feed bucket. It was hell trying to get him off the bird until he'd finished his tea!
 

liveryblues

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My advice would be don't! But then I've had two of my horses injure chickens. My old boy used to herd them into his stable and corner them, then pick them up in his teeth and throw them! (In his defence, I think he thought chicken hurling was some new kind of game!)
This made me chuckle.... wrong I know :/

Chooks aren't the brightest creatures!
 

abitodd

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Another consideration is that chickens provide VERY rich fertilzer for grass.
If the chickens do venture into the paddock,they will drop loads of this fertilzer all over the field. This combined with the fact that they are good at keeping grass short and 'stressed' means the grazing could end up unsuitable for ponies.
Rats also tend to move in wherever there are chickens.
 
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