Saturday, November 13, 2010

Goats and Chickens Great Team

Phoebe Henry & Millie
Can't They All Just Live Together?
(Guest Author - Phoebe Henry)
Lately I have been seeing many farm articles saying that goats and chickens should not live together.  In fact many goat owners say they should not be put in the same barn.  When I read this I was so surprised.  I have grown up with chickens, goats, horses, dogs, and sheep living in peace. But then I thought, I guess this makes sense.  That pesky chicken poop seems to be everywhere and lets face it, it’s smelly and hard to clean up.  
Chickens always seem to be in your way and the little clucking noise can get very annoying when you hear it every day. Or if you are a person like me and just gets creeped out by the look of the animal.  Still these are just small, annoying problems and I don’t understand what the big deal is about chickens and goats living together. If anything  I think that the relationship between the goat and chicken is helpful.
I was watching my chickens and goats and I just could not wrap my head around what the big deal was.  In fact I thought that maybe the chickens and goats shared the symbiotic relationship of commensalism.  The goats drop their grain everywhere and then the chickens come up and eat it.  So there you have it, a commensalistic relationship. The more I observed,  the two animals could share a mutualistic relationship.  The chickens eat the bugs that are buzzing around the goat's pen.  The goats are saved from mosquitos and flies and the chickens get a tasty snack. I think that chickens and goats should live together at the very least for companionship.  I know that my goats would be very lonely without their little chicken friend.  I don’t think the chickens are causing any real problems.  They are actually helping with the clean up by eating all the dropped grain.  And who doesn’t like having to do less clean up? I think that chickens should be able to live with goats. Whether as a companion or to help keep the amount of bugs around your goats down. The animals seem to make a good match.


  1. My father-in-law was very insistent that goats and chickens couldn't live together and he said it was for parasitic reasons. I think it's all hogwash. My goats and hens live together in perfect harmony. Well except for a strange rivalry between my goat herd queen and the hen at the top of the pecking order. They don't harm each other, just try to goad the other one into an altercation. Neither take the bait. It's weird.

  2. I think too much "city" has crept into farming rules. I know many MANY people who have goats and chickens in contact with each other. If you keep bed and nesting areas clean, and make sure your goats don't over eat, I don't see why they can't mix.

  3. I agree with Heidi.. that's hogwash! All of my chickens hang out with the goats - usually at feeding time. They clean up the dropped grains & when they're done, they're on their merry way. I've got a Silkie rooster & seeing that he can't fly to jump up on a safe place for the night, I've found him several times actually roosting on a goat - safely off the ground. Rachel is right.. too much city into farming rules!

  4. My chickens moved themselves into the goat shed after a predator got at them. We just made a couple of modifications to the shed and everyone is happy. The chickens and the goats hang out together at various times of day.

    1. Can I ask what the modifictions are? I have a large shed that I would like to house chickens and sheep, but not sure if I should make seperate 'rooms' or if I should just half the area so the sheep can only go so far, but the chickens can go wherever. I hope that makes sense. Any suggestions would be helpful.

  5. My grandmother said the same thing about chickens not being housed with other animals. She let her animals free range together, but they all had separate housing. I understood from a much younger person the reason for the separation was not so much parasites but something called 'the flue'. it seems that the flue originates from the chicken, then is evolved through the next host (like the pigs) into swine flue, and so on. I'm going to do the research to learn more, but I do recall that a decade or so ago there was a mass murder of chickens in China because of the flu. Hong Kong flue, I think. (I know that sounds like a joke, but not meant to be.) A call to the local County Extension Office should clear this up..or call a vet.

  6. OK. I talked to our county extension officer who said it's ok. Chickens do have some diseases that cross over, like salmonella which is in the poop. But if you keep your barn/shed cleaned birds and goats are ok. Personally, I will still keep my birds separate from the other live stock. But given the number of incidents that are in the news, I'm thinking it has not been a serious issue for anyone.

  7. I did not have trouble with Vibriosis until one of my chickens started staying in my sheep shed. I suspect that the bacteria
    Campylobacter jejuni was shed by the bird and eaten by my ewes, who then aborted. Goats are also affected by C. jejuni.
    I now vaccinate my ewes and keep my birds out of the shed where the hay is stored.

  8. I let my chickens out in barn during summer and its been a blessing last year NO FLIES!!! Yup the chickens keep down the flies and my Goats are happier for it:) No ticks in the fields either!! A win win situation there; but the downfall is the POOP. So this year I will put chickens up earlier so no roosting happens on hay rack or barn stalls:) Oh and lets not forget the egg laying in the barn stalls too :)

  9. Our chickens mingle with the goats as well. I love that the chickens clean up the spilled (potentially wasted) grain and eat the bugs. However, the birds do have their own coop which is a stall inside the barn where the goats are also housed. I put up plastic around the open walls of the coop. I have noticed there is a thick dander on the plastic inside the coop that is not on the outside. Our barn is also very open and airy. I have not experienced any issues in keeping the animals together in the 10 years we've had them, however, I personally would not keep our barn friends together inside of the barn if the structure was tightly closed and poorly ventilated having concern about respiratory issues in the goats relating to the chicken dander. I believe if everyone has plenty of roaming room in the fresh air the goats and chickens are ok mates.