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Chickens as pets for horses?

Hi guys,
I have a horse who has been on stall rest (with hand walking) for 6 months. He is going crazy, but has a few months left before he can start work/turnout again.

I was thinking of getting him a “friend” for in his stall and I think i remember someone mentioning that TBs sometimes have a pet chicken in their stall. Then today I get a call from a farmer friend who has a chicken that she needs to rehome as the other chickens are mean to her.

So my question: do you know any horses with pet chickens? How does one encourage a horse to adopt a chicken? does it ever end up really bad for the horse/chicken? Should I take down the partition between stalls and give them a bigger area (12x14 stalls so 2 would make a 12x28 stall). Do I need to build the chicken a safe area in the stall that Sox can’t get to? Is this the dumbest idea ever? Stop laughing, I’m serious!!! :wink:


Well, I have chickens and the horses aren’t bothered by them at all, usually. If your horse is not accustomed to chickens and vice versa it could end badly. I don’t think I would just throw a chicken into the stall with the horse without giving the chicken an escape route. I have an old mare that will chase the chickens out of her stall at dinner time…she is a real grump at dinner time though, she even chased her own foal out!

Try a goat, or better a mini.

We put one of our reject roosters in with my grandmother’s broodmare one winter. The chicken will need a place to roost. Otherwise it will roost on the edge of the feed bucket, and you really don’t want that :uhoh:

I’d suggest getting them used to each other with a stall guard or similar set up so the chicken could come and go from the stall. They will need to get acclimated to each other. Right now I’m picturing what my own horse would do the first time a chicken flew up to roost in his stall :eek:

Yes, I’d take down the partition, probably only half way at first so the chicken could fly over and the horse couldn’t ;). Actually, start with the chicken in the next stall. Can you remove boards one at a time so you gradually lower the wall?

Birds carry a lot of diseases…I would avoid any avian critter.

I’d be worried about salmonella and other germs birds can carry in their droppings.

A couple of years ago we had a pet Chicken named Henny Penny. She would sleep on my gelding and ride my mare around. They never minded her. She choose them.

Yes, birds carry disease, which is why you want to keep your barnyard fowl clear of “wild” birds. Really, a well cared for domestic chicken isn’t going to make a horse sick. The chicken would likely succumb before the horse was even exposed. I think the most common worry would actually be chicken lice. But again, simple bird care will do the trick. And the chicken will clean up extra grain and bugs. They’re good on fly control! They used to pick flies right off the backs of our dairy cows.

Try a goat, or better a mini.[/QUOTE]

Agree with the mini. And agree with Dick! The last time I had a horse with chicken, there was a lice issue… never again!!! They are filthy. Of course that is my humble opinion.

Thanks for the replies everyone. I didn’t know about chicken lice :open_mouth:
Maybe an old, small pony who can double as a leadliner for my daughter…
Cheers :wink:

I had a rooster who spent a lot of time with a crippled mare I had. They did get along well, enjoyed each other’s company. It wasn’t something that I planned, it just happened. No problems with lice or illness. The rooster also associated with other horses as well, and several of them liked him. Some didn’t, and he knew which ones to stay away from. He roosted on the stall door, but would also lay down with the horse. The horses would tickle him on the comb and on the top of his little pecker-head with their prehensile upper lip, and ruffle his tail feathers. When he became old and decrepid, he had to be lifted up onto the stall door in the evening. Eventually, there was an accident in the night when a horse “had to leave the stall and charge out into the paddock for a run” (stalls with run in paddock situation), and he was trampled by one of his favourate horses. Death was instant. He was an adequate pet for an equine, but I think it would be hard to arrange this relationship on purpose, I think it either happens or it doesn’t. We’ve had the occasional other chicken around the barn over the years, and a relationship like this has never happened before this rooster came along.

Just a little story about our rooster. When my grandmother would go to the barn for bed check and turn on the light, she would wake up the rooster, and he’d hop down to visit. Of course she didn’t want to go off and leave him on the floor, so she would flip the light switch on and off as a warning, and he’d go back to roost. :cool:

I’d go with a goat rather than a chicken. I always see way more goats around horses, and they get along very well

The people next door had chickens that were in my barn constantly. For the most part, my horses didn’t mind. But one rooster met an unhappy ending under one of our mare’s feet. I really don’t think she did it on purpose. I am sure she didn’t notice him and stepped on the poor thing…and then probably spooked and trampled when it made noise :frowning: Not good. We do have a mini that works well as a companion for anybody on stall rest and a stall set up with a lower partition so they can sniff noses but can’t get in with each other. I am not too worried about the mini. She is evil concentrated :winkgrin: She actually almost put an end to one of our barn cats this morning :eek: But she seems to be great company for the mare that can’t be left alone.

We have a chicken a rooster and a goat in our shed row. Under no circumstance give your horse a goat (unless it is a nervous wreck and has to have it) you will have to literally wean it later. We have never had any problems with the birds other then some droppings where they roost, and they are great for bug control they eat them all. The eggs are a bonus.

Goat v. mini…
I love goats. BUT I have heard rumor that they chew tails… I object to that. Fact or fiction?
Would a mini be inclined to chew tails out of boredom? Or if ways are found to keep them busy are tails safe? I love a big full tail…

We have a miniature stallion we use as a teaser (poor guy) for our large Oldenburg, Brandenburg and Dutch Warmblood mares. He has 3 pet chickens (2 hens and a rooster) that share his stall and paddock with him. They are very happy together and it keeps him from being lonesome since he is in a separate barn from the mares & foals.

I think as for goats it really depends on the horse. I have five goats and at night all but one have their separate areas away from the horse. My little Nigerian Pygmy wether chose on his own to stay in with my Thoroughbred at night.

My horse is very gentle with the goats, and they respect him so there is no tail chewing by the goats or mauling of the goats by the horse. Recently I brought in a pony mule for my horse and he’s obviously happier with her as a pasture and barn companion, although he still really enjoys the company of his little buddy goat at night.

My chickens are separate from the hooved animals and up at the house for chicken-safety reasons mostly. I don’t want the varmints to get the chickens and I didn’t want chicken poop on my hay. My chickens are as clean as chickens are as long as I keep their coop deeply bedded and clean and their run raked and supply them with fresh greens. No lice, thank goodness.