Answers to your questions about gardening, energy, homesteading and other sustainable living topics.
How can you protect your chickens from dogs, or raise the two kinds of animals together harmoniously? We turned to our Facebook community for ideas on keeping Fido from frightening the flock.
I have a pit bull, Boston Terriers and a Chihuahua. When I got our first chicks, I kept them indoors in a wire crate under a heat lamp. Whenever the dogs came up to the crate, I would say, “Easy,” and gently put their paws into the cage and let the chicks nibble on them. As the dogs got used to the chicks, they would lie near the cage, and I would take the chicks into my hand, cover their bodies, and let the dogs sniff and lick them. By the time the chicks could go outside and free-range, the dogs knew they were part of our family, and either played with them or paid them no attention at all. (The Chihuahua had even killed two chickens before he came to live with me!) — Jodi Skoien-Tucker
One quick zap was all it took! When we built a chicken tractor, we put a low-voltage wire at ground level around the outer edge of the tractor and turned it on at night to deter raccoons, opossums and other pests. At first, our dogs behaved poorly. When we turned it on during the day, the dogs ran into it nose-first — once. A few weeks later, we let the birds out of the tractor. Initially, the dogs kept their distance, as though the birds had zapped their noses. Two years later, we have the best protector anyone could ask for in our mixed-breed bulldog, Butler. Whenever our ducks waddle to the frog pond, Butler follows close behind, waits, and then walks them back to the duck pen. — Judith Legare
Our cattle dogs and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel are especially gentle and protective of our birds. When the chickens were first introduced, we carefully observed the dogs and immediately corrected aggressive behavior. Since Duchess (our Australian Cattle Dog/Australian Shepherd mix) has started spending all of her time outdoors with the chickens during the day, we haven’t lost any birds to predators. Set limits, praise good behavior, and let your dogs know those birds belong to you. — Tom and Laurie Bartlett
Choose pups from gentle parents and breeds, and keep dogs with a high prey drive separated from your birds. Don’t be angry at a dog that instinctively responds to fluttering or running chickens. — Linda Hindman
I have Akitas and an Afghan Hound. They have a strong prey drive and would love a chicken snack, no matter how much training they receive. Our chicken pen is attached to our yard with a 6-foot chain-link fence, and I’ve added hardware cloth around the bottom. I also made sure to get chicken breeds that aren’t flyers. The dogs got used to the chickens and will occasionally run along the fence, but, so far, I’ve not lost a chicken to a dog. — Jennifer Kassay Phelps
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