Dogs and Chickens

Discussion in 'Working and Companion Animals' started by HeatherDriskill, Jan 4, 2007.

  1. HeatherDriskill

    HeatherDriskill Well-Known Member

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    Hi, everyone! I am preparing to enter my second go 'round of Chicken raising as I am down to none right now but will start over once the weather is nicer.

    I have a severe predator problem in my neck of the woods. I have determined through trial and error that my best bet is to have a dog roaming around the yard (which is not fenced in) at all times. I have a lab who stays outside during the day but he comes in at night and goes with us if we are gone over night. I am planning to get a new dog to be the farm yard guardian since the sheer presence of a dog will repel almost all predators.

    Has anyone had luck with any specific breed not bothering chickens? My lab is fine around them but I know all labs are not. I'm inclined to think it just depends on the specific dog and their level of training. I feel like some dogs are going to kill chickens no matter what their training. I don't want to end up getting a dog and then having to try to get rid of it when it starts killing the chickens. Penning the dog up is not an option because I don't want to worry that if the dog happens to get out that he will head straight to the chicken coop to massacre the chickens. I would rather just have a dog that I don't have to worry about with them.

    I was thinking about getting a puppy and raising it with the birds but I also considered getting an older dog in hopes it would be too lazy to feel like chasing birds around.

    I will be free ranging the birds when I am home. When the guineas get to be about 4 months or so, they will start roosting out in the trees and will pretty much be self-reliant.

    Sorry this is so long, I will also post in the poultry forum. Thanks in advance for any help!
     
  2. Willowynd

    Willowynd Well-Known Member

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    I can tell you a dog is not going to keep all predators from getting your chickens. I recently had a weasel get one of my ducks and during the time of the attack there was pups in a pen 5 ft from where it was killed and an adult close to the area too. Even if they had been running free- it would not have helped. Also dogs who kill small predators (like rats and such) will kill the chickens too. Not to mention if a pack of dogs comes looking for a meal- a single dog will not be able to keep them from getting the chickens and may wind up dead. You do not mention how much property (assuming small since you said unfenced yard ) or about roads either- you may wind up losing the dog if it roams off your property or continues a chase off your property or you may wind up with a dog that is a nusiance to your neighbors.
    Your best defense is to make a secure pen for your chickens and cover it with netting. Make your coop predator proof and lock the chickens in at night. Let them free range only when you can watch. I have not lost a chicken to a predator since doing this. On the other hand, I have lost several ducks to predators since they free range all the time and wander off the property.
     

  3. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If your predators are nighttime prowlers, having them behind electric wire is the safest thing for them. None of our ducks or chickens were killed at night if they were fenced in- gotta be electric. During the day, my birds free range and are never bothered by predators, even the hawks don't bother them.

    The presence of a dog will deter most predators, but a raccoon can be eating your duck while your dog is on the other side of the house barking at a squirrel.

    I have a border collie who would love to chase the chickens, but he is not allowed to. Most dogs who would go after a raccoon will be happy to chase the chickens. You have to train your dog to leave the birds alone. This can be accomplished by teaching him the "leave it" command. Do not let your new dog near the birds until he has learned this command, and you have him on a long leash so you can teach him to leave the birds alone. You also need to have a good recall on the dog.
     
  4. HeatherDriskill

    HeatherDriskill Well-Known Member

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    My lab is awesome. He's been through basic obedience and has a genuine desire to please me. He's able to learn what he can chase and what he can't and he doesn't run all over the country. Maybe I should just get another lab.

    Just thinking over my options. I live in the country on 10 acres which are partly wooded. I have neighbors but none right up against us and the ones I do have all have dogs of their own so we all help each other out. I live down a dead end dirt road which only has two other houses on it (one being my great aunt and uncle's place on 110 acres) and the other's drive way is right near the intersection. So, traffic is a non-issue.

    I forgot to mention that I am putting hot wire around the chicken coop. I just MUST have a dog to hang around the house/yard 24/7. Many of the animals I have coming on the property will learn there is a dog on the premises and will keep their distance.
     
  5. Mountaineer

    Mountaineer Well-Known Member

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    How about fencing in a smaller area- say 1/2 to 1 acre, for the poultry/dog?
     
  6. sullen

    sullen Question Answerer

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    Any dog that will take what you say as law would be a good poultry dog. Depends on the individual dog.
    a non fixed dog spreads smell around that will deter predators, no matter how big the dog is. But for nighttime security without a LGD, get a fence. I get bloody hens once a year even with my dog. (he is not out at night) I sealed up the eaves, now, shouldn't get bloody heads anymore.
     
  7. Bearfootfarm

    Bearfootfarm Hello, hello....is there anybody in there.....? Supporter

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    Here's my "Chicken Hound": He came from a shelter

    [​IMG]
     
  8. HeatherDriskill

    HeatherDriskill Well-Known Member

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    I was thinking about a shelter dog, too. I think they will let you bring them home for a few days to make sure they work out. I could test it on the chickens. I basically just want a medium to large sized dog just to lay around the house.
     
  9. beorning

    beorning Well-Known Member

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    I think it has more to do with training than breed, and then again, more to do with the individual dog than anything else. When I had poultry, I used to send my border out to the mobile chicken coop at dusk to herd all the birds into the coop. He'd go down there a few times at night to check on them, occasionally he'd bring up a possum or racoon he killed on a trip. He'll still go out and patrol the yard when you tell him "get the possum".Never showed any inclination at all to hurt a bird. There was another border on the farm that had to be penned up when he wasn't supervised because he was such an incorrigible chicken killer.

    I agree with fencing and secure coop construction. The only predator I ever found in our coop was a black rat snake that took a shine to eggs. Never could figure out how he got in there, as there wasn't a hole in the coop bigger than 1/2 an inch. At least not that I could find.Wherever it was, the snake couldn't get out when he was full of eggs.