Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Do chickens get along with cats / dogs?

This seems to be one of the biggest concerns of new and potential chicken keepers. There are always exceptions to the rule, but this is what I have found (based on my own personal observations, opinions and experiences):

Family pets are usually not the problem. Chickens can look after themselves quite well when it comes to seeing off a too inquisitive cat or dog. A swift peck on a soft nose is usually all it takes! It can be a good idea to let your dog or cat explore the new chicken house before the chickens arrive so that there is no mystery to the housing itself. You can let your pet know in the first introductions if it is doing (or about to do) something wrong and that is very often enough to keep everyone living together happily.















It is not safe to trust them with young chicks but fully grown Chickens can get along quite nicely with the family cat(s) - infact most of the time they just ignore each other (in my experience, if anything, it is more likely to be the cat that is chased!).

Dogs can be a bit more troublesome but really it depends on the dog itself. If you have a dog that chases and barks at anything that moves, then it probably is not a good idea to have chickens, but some dogs are so docile they can end up being perched on! One advantage if you do have a cat or dog around is that their presence can sometimes deter unwanted intruders (such as foxes, rats, neighbourhood cats and dogs) etc.



Photo By Valerie Rose
"I have 6 free ranging 10 wk old hens that roam my fully fenced city lot. I also have a 21lb MainCoon cat named Taio. Taio is extremely docile ball of fluff of a cat... but I didn't realise just HOW docile until this afternoon. I thought you would enjoy these photos of Taio and the chickens. :)"

Most of the problems with cats and dogs seem to come from the neighbourhood pets that are not being properly controlled and looked after. Owners have no legal responsibility for cats but a neighbourhood dog can be reported to your local authority (although it will not necessarily do any good). If you have a co-operative neighbour then there could be a compromise, but unfortunately some neighbours are very inconsiderate - hopefully you have good neighbours!

Regardless of how well your pets get along with the chickens it is advisable to keep your 'girls' in a secure run and only free range them when you can actually be outside with them - Foxes (and badgers!) are becoming increasingly common in even the most urban of areas.

29 comments:

Shannan Koucherik said...

It has been my experience that most dogs can learn to leave the chickens alone. Right now I am teaching my Jack Russell pup that the chickens are NOT a snack...

We began work on the secure pen yesterday. It has a wire floor (stock panel) to deter digging predators and is 1"x1" welded wire outside. The inside area is 1" poultry netting. We are preparing for visits from foxes, skunks and badgers as well as neighborhood dogs on the prowl. I'm not to worried about the feral cats as they don't come too close to the house and the girls will be locked in at night.

There is nothing like building a $250 pen to hold $20 worth of birds...

I always have Border Collies as personal dogs and most of them are quite happy to watch the chickens and will protect them to some point. I did have one glorious old man who loved to follow a hen with new chicks. (We were living on a mini horse farm in CA, where the Silky chickens roamed free and nested often) He would never hurt one, but was so intent, he nearly drowned more than one with his drool. His feelings were always hurt when the hen would launch at him and peck his nose.

Our rule of thumb with our dogs (and any other animals we are responsible for) is "control the environment." If a dog is not left to his own devices, he is much less likely to get into trouble. I owned an Amazon parrot for 17 years and she was quite capable of warning off my dogs and cats. It wasn't until I gave her away when I remarried that she was torn to shreds by two dogs who found her walking across the kitchen floor...the dogs were visiting her new owner and she just "stepped outside for a moment," leaving them loose in the house.

BTW -- my girls are enjoying daily servings of alfalfa sprouts as well as the bread crumbs I made them in the food processor. All organic of course! I have found this to be the easiest way to tame the birds down, as they must take the goodies from my hand.

Jason Akin said...

Gina, thanks for the informative newsletter. The first one I recieved was about chickens and pets. We have eight chickens now ranging from two to eight weeks. We have three dogs, a yorkie and two pomerenians. It has taken some time, and a few swats with the newspaper, but the dogs have gone from pacing around the coop and chasing for hours on end, to only occasionally chasing the chickens. When they catch one, they usually give it a lick then turn to "tag" the next one. I can't wait to see what happens as the chicks outgrow the dogs. Turnabout is fair play.

Chris White said...

We have a puppy that is now 16 months old and has been raised around our chickens and he is fine with them. In fact they scare him. He is a boston terrier. Then we have a 6 year old boston, a 5 year old rat terrier and a 2 year old boxer and all of them if they could get hold of the chickens would kill them. Our boxer is getting better. We have guinias turned lose and he is where if we let him out and they are in the fence all we have to do is tell him stay and he will just look at them. He wants to get them so bad but he will wait until they get out of the yard and then go bark at them.
Chris

Tracey Ordiway said...

My personal experince with chickens, ducks, and geese and dogs and cats is rather unusal.
Bandit was our favorite mixed breed dog, and he never really bothered the chickens, he would play with the hens. What he would do is wait for them to get into a group, and talk amoung themselves as chickens do, than when they least expected it, he would run right down the middle of them, really get them going.
To him it was playing, to them, well they didn't take to kindly to it.
We would get onto bandit for it, but he would do it all the time, what was funny was after he did it he would go off somewhere and just wait until they regrouped and do it again.
This was endless believe me, but he never hurt the birds.
The geese however had their own rules, it was their pen and he was not to even think about doing it to them or the ducks, the ganders would chase him all around the pen when I was out there, he never once jumped on them just would run and wait for them to turn their back and than try to chase them again. Bandit has been gone now for four years, I miss him dearly and know I may never find another one like him, he was one of a kind but he was a good guard dog when need be, and we had alot of dogs back than, I still do now, but only one I wouldn't even trust near my duck who has a mind of his own.
Howard is a pekin, have had him for five years, he thinks he can fly but he's butt heavy, however he does have his moments when he will somehow get out of the pen and not fly either, always finding holes near the fence, but the other day when I went out to feed, there he was standing in the back yard, not thinking he did anything wrong, asked him where he thought he was going to go to, but than I had to get the net which he hates and round him up. I worry about him getting to close to aquriaries she's got wolf in her, and I get onto her when she trys to make lunch out of howard. I keep my dogs either on chains or in pens, thankgoodness for Howard. He's a silly duck, quacks when the dogs bark, I tell them to shut up and than I have to say that includes you Howard. Who'd think he would think he was a dog. Well that's it for me right now, will try to remember some more stories.
tracey

Jan Dale said...

Thank you for the updates. I had chickens as a kid in the 50's and 60's and have now started my own chicken coop. Very interesting and the grandkids love them. Had an unfortunate incident with my dog. He chased and killed one of the chickens at 6 weeks. In front of the kids and all.

My remaining two are doing well and are now 8 weeks old. I am careful when I left them out for a range and make sure that my dog and 2 cats are locked away.

They have been living in a large reinforced guinea pig cage - 2.6m x 1m x 90 high and hopefully this weekend I will have finished their coop.

Thanks for all you help and keep the emails coming.

Jan

Kaye Mabry said...

I have a Rooster and Hen (Banny). Joseph and Mary are their names. Mary is sitting on a nest full of eggs. My dog Sasha decided to "explore" the eggs. She dug a hole under the door to the coop. She then carefully removed one egg at a time (the nest was next to the door) and deposited them by the back stairs to the house. There were about a dozen eggs piled there. (unbroken, of course). We replaced the eggs to the nest and all was well. Sasha looked a little hurt. She had given us a Love present and we returned it to the upset rightful owner. She hasn't touched the eggs since.

Bob Merino said...

Our dog seems more curious about the chickens than anything. She's always been protective of our other outdoor pets. Still working on housing for the chickens. We have only 5 to work with.

Barry Campbell said...

I have recently added 10 new chicks to my house until they are ready for the real world. In side my house also is one dog and one cat. And much to my surprise they have taken to each other very well. My dog sleeps beside there cage every night and the cat sleeps ontop of the cage. If my dog is somewhere else in the house and the chicks start to make alot of noise my dog is right there to make sure they are ok. When it comes to feeding time the dog and cat wait at the edge of the cage and watch every thing that goes on. It was a big surprise to me.

MJ Harris said...

Gina,

It is so interesting that you sent this e-mail now...regarding dogs. We have recently discovered that my husbands Basset hound is NOT compatible with the new addition of chicks. We are talking about a dog that runs away every time he passes gas. He seemed to be doing fine at a first, even somewhat mothering. Little did we know he was sizing up his prey. First was the trial bite, then came the initial kill, then it has been hurry, kill it, and eat the evidence before anyone notices. He may not have been caught had he realized how to get back out of the chicken yard. Little does he know, a call has been made to a Basset hound Rescue Shelter. I've never liked the dog to begin with, and this is the last straw. Who needs a dog that eats its own feces, and your chickens. Before anyone asks, yes we do put food in his bowl twice a day! So that's my unfortunate experience. Thanks for all the info you send my way, and I love the way you put a slightly sarcastic, yet humerous spin on things....my kind of gal!
MJ Harris

James Adkins said...

Today my dog got one of my baby chicks and carried it from the coop to my house. I really don't know how long she played with her, but when I found her, the chick was scared but not hurt otherwise. Usually, she just 'herds' them. My dog is a Wiemaraner, and eight months old. I talked to her when I first brought the chicks home, and she has not hurt any of them. So far, So good. James Adkins

Patrick Murphy said...

Hi Gina,

My experience with chickens and dogs has to do with my neighbor's chickens and my dog, John, a large male dalmation. John is an outdoor dog without a lot of obedience training, and, unfortunately, he does not play well with others. He has grabbed up a couple of my neighbor's free-range hens that have wandered into our yard, and it was all over pretty quickly.

I think John is the exception to the rule, though. He also is pretty rough on gophers and cats, too. He's tried to take on some skunks, but has ended up with a face full of skunk oil.

Thanks for your emails about chickens. My daughter is beginning to raise some chicks and we are looking for as much information as we can get.

Kaye Mabry said...

Update:: I was presented with 9 beautiful little "bities" this am--May 21, 2007 (She laid 15 eggs) Kaye

Nancy said...

Gina,
Everything is getting along amazing well here. Two weeks ago I had 3 mi nature doxies, 3 cats and a parakeet.....now have another doxie (was shot and needed a quieter home) A Anatolian/Pyrenee 7 mon old, 4 minature sheep, 11 young chicken, 2 angora rabbits (in house) and my little mama cat had 4 kittens. I am very proud of them all for getting along since the little doxies are hunters anyway I was really worried.
Babysitting 2 grandaughters (3 and 5) and learning to spin to boot so very busy, but happy.
Enjoy the site, sorry this is short, but I am sure something needs feed, watered or petted.
Take care,
Nancy

Lynne said...

Love your e-mails!!

Just a story about chickens and dogs - When we first decided to try our hand at chickens, my husband had a huge, terribly stupid dog - but she was great at keeping unwanted animals out of our yard.

My daughter and I decided to get some baby chicks. We spent several days making a pen and fitting it for chicks. (We live in Florida, so heat was not a problem).

The big day came and we were so excited to get our babies and bring them home! We set them up nice and comfy and just watched them do 'chick' things for a couple of hours.

Casey, the big, stupid dog, ignored them for the next 3 days.

On the third night I happened to cook a roaster for dinner and my husband got the brilliant idea to give the dog the bones.

I know they say the bones are bad for dogs, they just never met Casey, she used to eat aluminum siding, a Mikita battery and lighter fluid, among other things.

Well, Casey had never had chicken before this and she must have thought it was the most wonderful food in the world because the next morning when we ran out to see our chicks, they were all inside Casey's stomach

I went back and picked up some more chicks and this time 'introduced' them to Casey. After making the chicks 'family' members, Casey never ate another one, though she liked to carry them around in her mouth but wouldn't hurt them.

Keep the great e-mails coming !! Thanks, Lynne

Rene' McCracken said...

Hello Gina,

Cats and Dogs are natural preditors of all birds and given the chance nature will take its course. I have found that sometimes if you choose a "non-hunting" breed of dog and raise them with the chickens they have more of a understanding that they are "family" and not food. Of course cats are more of a nusiance to the chickens than a threat.

Yes larger birds are quite good at protecting their interests and will do so if need be. Most often though, it is the neighbor's pets that become the problem and maybe the beginning of a good old fashioned fued that can last for years. The easiest way to solve this issue is to prevent it. Construct "dog and cat" proof pens and houses, talk with your neighbors before even getting in the poultry business. If your neighbor raises hunting dogs — this may not be the best venture for you. Because no matter how hard you try, nature will take it's course and chickens will get out and dogs will do what they are born to do.

I have raised several chickens with a Blue Heeler breed myself and found that they could be trusted to protect the birds if they were raised with them. Although, we did lose one when it got too close to the dog's food bowl.

Thanks for your comments,

Rene' McCracken

Laurel said...

Dear Gina,
Thank you for all of your good advice. It has come in handy. I actually have three cats and three dogs and so far so good. I am not worried about them with the chicks but are none the less protective of all. We have a pond in the yard with fish which sometimes lends a quick drink to the dogs but otherwise is calm. I have seven chicks and can't tell you how much I enjoy them. I am excited about raising them and am preparing to build a coop. Thanks again for your advice.
Laurel

Pat said...

Years ago we had a young lab mix who killed a chicken.
My husband took the body, tied it to the back of the dogs collar thereby putting the dead chicken on his back!!
He ran around and tried to get the chicken off to no avail.
After a day or two we removed the, by then, featherless bird and the dog never bothered another chicken for the remaining 14+ years we had him.

Aron said...

Some dogs and cats get on but some don't. If you get the cat or dog at a young age and train them you can get the cat or dog to like them and keep other animals away.


That is all
Aron

Dannie said...

Thought you might enjoy this dog/chick story. They will sometimes surprise the heck out of you.

I have a 3 yr old Basset-Beagle who was not raised around chickens. Last spring I had about 20 chicks in a brooding pen on the back deck. He had been mildly curious but, that was about it. Well, early one morning a thunderstorm rolled in. Buddy woke me, crying and running around like his best friend was in mortal danger. My sleepy head thought "What is it Lassie? Timmy fell down the well?!" Funny how close to the truth that was. I rolled out of bed and followed Buddy, as he ran in circles all the way to the back door. Once there, even I could here the distressed cries of the chicks. The storm had blown the overhang off the pen. One chick had already drowned in a puddle in the pen. The rest were soaked clear through and would die if something didn't happen right away.
Quickly, we threw them all in to a basket and set up a heat lamp in the bathtub for them. They each were dried with a towel and Buddy's determined tongue! They went on to grow up with a very happy dog keeping a newly watchful eye on them.

Annette said...

Thanks for the tips. My girls arrived 2 days ago and I'm pleased to say that the cat is treating them with the untmost repect, one dog couldn't care less and the other one is showing a lot of interest but not getting too close!! I think the girls are going to "rule the roost".

Malc said...

Hi Gina,
cats are no problem at all,dogs on the other hand are.

I have 3 dogs 1 springer who I would not trust, even though she has got the most lovely nature, a border terrier who is just a year old and likes the chase but not
sure what she would do if she caught one, probably kill! A patterdale terrier who is the biggest wus when it comes to chucks but anything with whiskers
has to look out, he only bothers cats if they run and rats well he is a demon!

Hope that is of some use.
Regards Malc

Ken & Hani Boeck said...

Hi Gina
After reading about all the animals that get along with chickens I thought I would send my story along to you.

My wife and I have a black lab and several cats as well as seven chickens our chickens are free range and roost locked in our barn at night. The funny part of the story is after watching the cats go in and out of the entrance we made for them the chickens have learned how to come in the house also. Since the chickens have been coming in we put a padded box in the mud room and every day the chickens deliver to our door all our fresh eggs as soon as they lay their egg they go directly back out and do their chicken thing.

The only drawback to the cat door is every now and again I get up at 3am to show a raccoon out the door since they seem to think if the cats can come in why not us too?

Thanks for your time
Ken & Hani Boeck

Shannan said...

We had a tough day yesterday when an at-large husky killed one of our "girls" right on our front lawn by the front door. The rest of the hens escaped into the sagebrush and were unhurt. The animal control officer reminded me that chickens are illegal in our town (even though we live on 12 acres), but decided that we had already lost enough so didn't give me a ticket. She said that unless she gets a complaint about them, she will look the other way.

We won't be turning the five remaining girls out anymore until spring when we will fence a section of our pasture for them with dogproof fence.

It only takes a couple of seconds for a dog to kill a chicken...

Shannan
"A righteous man has regard for the life of his beast." PV 12:10

Anonymous said...

My first post and I have to say I love this newsletter. Unfortunately I have had a lot of bad luck so far but I am learning and think that in the spring when the feed stores have chicks I will much more informed. At the moment I have 2 dogs, 5 cats, 3 goats a fish and the 3 chickens 2 of which turned out to be roosters. Two of the cats get in the coop and pen all the time, 2 of the cats don't go outside and they were very interested when the chicks were still in the house but just watched didn't bother them. One dog is a 13 yr old pomeranian and she could care less but then there comes my husbands wish for his birthday a siberian husky pup who at 8 weeks was bigger than the pom and now at 6 1/2 months is taller than my 5 feet. He has managed to make a meal of 2 of my chickens one while they were still in the house and one after it accidently slipped out of the pen. Unfortunately we can't let him run in the fenced in area anymore as he likes to chase the poor goats too. The nannies don't fare well and he has made the smallest one have a bleeding tail from catching her and dragging her. The billy on the other hand loves to spar with him and I think he really misses him. We have taken the dog to obedience training already but were told because of his age he would need to return. He chases all the cats and the pom too. I think he wants to play but is too rough. Back to the chickens ...we had that awful ice storm in Dec and I was out feeding the goats and had just walked past the coop and fenced enclosure and saw the chickies coming out for the day only to my horror see a tree limb come crashing down and kill 3 in one swoop. I was so upset and for the next week they were shut in the coop until we got the tree limbs under control. I felt horrible and felt like I had messed up. I will regroup in the spring. I will continue to visit often for knowledge and all the great stories!

faithy said...

just thought you might like to see a pic of my chicken and cat they get on great! but not sure hhow to get pics on here

Gina said...

Hi,

Yes, I'd love to!:-) I try to put several subscriber photos into the newsletters. The easiest way is to just reply to the email that the newsletter comes in and send the photo(s) as an attachment there.

Best Wishes
Gina.

Anonymous said...

I have 14 hens, 2 labs, 1 pom, 5 cats. My girls rule the roost.The cats like to sleep in the hay bailed in my garage. My tom cat got into the coop one day and boy those hens let him have it!!! My labs are very interested, my chocolate loves the hens protects them fiercly. My other yellow would rather eat them!! I think that with dogs, as with people it is individual personality thing. My husband is currently building an outside coop for our girls and the tips at this site have been helpful!!! The girls are now being housed in my 4 car garage (husband allowed me some space!) so they are used to being in a controled enviroment but they are out growing there coop. This spring we got 5 peeps (included in my total of 14)I am unsure as how to sex them. I have one Buff Sextant that I thought was a hen but she is sooo aggressive!! Any ideas how to sex her, I see no spurs. I might have to wait a bit longer, but my neibors the last time I had a male just about threw me out of the neiborhood!! ANy advise would be greatly appreciated.

Gina said...

Hi,

It sounds like you have quite a collection of pets :-)

I am not familiar with Buff Sextants but I do have a few general sexing guidelines here :
Sexing Chickens
If you have a sex link that is buff then it should be a female.

In most breeds (unless they are sex links) you probably wouldn't know for sure until around 5 months old.

Best Wishes
Gina

Sian said...

my sheepdog is a total scaredy pooch and really doesn't like my chickens!! She hid behind my legs the other day when one got too close!