One of the things I neglected to mention about our daily summer routine is leaving the stall doors open. The main reason for doing this is so our free-range chickens can feast on the bugs that lurk beneath all that fertile ground. We’ve had chickens for a few years now and have found them completely compatible with horse life. In all the time we’ve never had problems with them not getting along. For the most part, our chickens and horses don’t spend a lot of time together. Horses have the night shift in the barn and chickens have the day shift. Every once in awhile a chicken will still be in a stall when a horse goes in. This results in either a lot of squawking, followed by a chicken flying out of the stall on its own (they can actually fly a little) or the chicken just hangs out scratching around the stall, peacefully coexisting with a horse until it’s done munching bugs.
They do an amazing job of keeping bugs down all around our place and keep the stalls from getting too compacted by using their large, strong feet and claws to scratch several inches of dirt. They’re especially good at digging around the edges. That must be where the good bugs are. When they start digging too far down around the foundation of a support beam, we just push dirt back with our boots.
Putting out hay takes a little more time. Although our chickens have a regular roosting spot and house (a moveable one we built called a chicken tractor), sometimes one is missing for a few days. When we put hay out we usually find the reason she was missing. Apparently, hay makes a great nest! We just need to be careful we don’t squish any eggs when we’re moving bales.
So if you’re considering chickens, chances are they’ll be compatible with your horses. They’re a lot of fun to have around and it’s nice having a regular supply of fresh eggs. We’ve found ours to be winter-hardy here in east Tennessee as long as we provide a regular source of food and water and ample bedding. And you don’t need a rooster unless you want baby chicks.
Do you have chickens around your horses?