Horses & Chickens — A Perfect Pair

Horses and chickens – it turns out that they complement each other well, according to Twain Lockhart, a poultry specialist with Nutrena. His industry experience has earned him the nickname “Mr. Cluck.” He speaks at animal agriculture events about how chickens coexist with other livestock.

He says chickens love living with horses and being around a big animal that doesn’t eat meat. They feel safe. In turn, chickens keep horses company.

Chickens will eat ticks, reducing the risk of disease in horses, explains Lockhart. Chickens also eat larvae out of horse manure, reducing the fly population. And they spread the manure to reduce the fly population.

If your horses are around chickens, it desensitizes them to flappy, squawky birds. This could make trail riding a more enjoyable experience when your horse no longer gets spooked by birds, Lockhart jokes.

Chickens can also reduce sand colic because they’ll eat the grain that falls on the ground before the horse can eat off the ground. Sand colic is abdominal pain due to the ingestion of sand.

When you merge horses and chickens together, make sure the chickens are fully feathered before they go outside, reminds Lockhart. They also need a place to stay that is predator-proof — raccoons are public enemy No. 1. Some people put a “chicken coop” in an old horse stall. The coop doesn’t need to be heated.

If you want healthy, egg-producing chickens, they can’t just rely on scraps from the horses. They’ll need a balanced laying ration, Lockhart says.