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Running laying hens with cows

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tncattle

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Does anyone do this? If so how do you do it? Please be as specific as possible.
 

Rafter S

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We've had chickens off and on, and would always let them out in the afternoons where they could catch bugs, scratch through the cattle manure, etc. What more do you need to know?
 
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tncattle

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Rafter S":1odh364z said:
We've had chickens off and on, and would always let them out in the afternoons where they could catch bugs, scratch through the cattle manure, etc. What more do you need to know?
We have 50 acres of river bottom pasture divided into 4 lots. I was thinking of running more electric fencing and dividing into 8 lots and moving cattle more often and letting chickens go behind them? Or should they just be right in there where the cows are at the same time?
 

slick4591

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The chickens will do their own thing and not necessarily follow the cows. I take unwanted cockerels out to the farm all the time and they are seldom with the cows.
 

farmerjan

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If you are wanting to run the chickens behind the cattle as "fly control" then you need for the cow to be ahead of the chickens 48 hours or more. Depending on the weather and such. Most that I have heard and done is about 3-4 days behind the cows. Research the life cycle of the flies that are your biggest problem and follow with the chickens accordingly. Once you get the fly population down, then being with them or near them will keep the manure piles spread out and the flies will not have many places to lay the eggs and there will be little larvae hatching for them to eat. If you want them to simply free range and eat the bugs in general, then they can run together. One thing, if the chickens have lice, the cows can get it from them. Lice can be a "multi-species" pest as opposed to some things being species specific. On pasture it isn't much of a problem, but chickens in the same barn can be.

One thing, if you are thinking something like a mobile chicken coop then I would run them in a separate field. One thing that we found is that the cows will be trying to get into the coops for the feed, and they will try to get their heads in the little "trap door" that the chickens come out and can start to tear it up. They will also try to get to where they can reach in and eat the poultry manure if the birds have a roost pole(s) for night time roosting. We used smaller camper trailers and retrofitted them for the chickens as mobile coops for about 100 birds in each. Feed and water in the coops, roosting poles for the night. I let them out free range days, then locked them in at night. The cows would practically stand on their heads thinking there was something in there that they needed to have to eat, trying to reach in the little trap doors. If I opened the big door in the summer, I had 2 2x4 "bars across the doorway so the cows couldn't go in. And yes, had calves that would hop up in there. This is FUN!!!!! But they would reach their heads in there, try to get into the feeders, knock the 5 gal automatic water fountains over, and try to get whatever they thought they ought to have. And I am talking summertime, with pasture up to their knees. PITA nosy cows!!!!
 

jkwilson

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Unless you have mobile coop like a chicken tractor, you are going to spend a lot of time chasing chickens and the coyotes will be well fed.
 
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tncattle

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jkwilson":17sdajte said:
Unless you have mobile coop like a chicken tractor, you are going to spend a lot of time chasing chickens and the coyotes will be well fed.
Yes, I'll have a mobile coop
 

Sniper338

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I got chickens but that would be a PITA to move birds around like that. Guineas do better job of catching bugs, but chickens try hard for them too.

Chicken predators seems like they would have a hay day
 
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tncattle

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Sniper338":275v9awt said:
I got chickens but that would be a PITA to move birds around like that. Guineas do better job of catching bugs, but chickens try hard for them too.

Chicken predators seems like they would have a hay day
Takes about 15 minutes to move them each day or two.
 

Sniper338

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Hmm. Well that sounds interesting... new one to me. We always just let out chicken out around the house and they go where they go haha
 

pdfangus

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predation is the key....
some folks can get away with loose chickens but it seems to me that eventually the predators find them and then the decimation is daily and rapid.

I even had an owl discover my guineas and he took one about every other night until they were all gone. I saw him with the next to the last one, but I was in my night clothes and unarmed at the time
 

Stocker Steve

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We brought home about 20 production red hens that had been keep in a closed barn, and set them up in an open top pen in the hay shed. All were dead the next morning. They had piled up in a corner and gotten ripped one by one. Sick... Set a trap and caught the dirty bird that night.
Then we brought home a batch of free range rescue hens. They roost 16' up in the hay shed rafters and no one has ever bothered them. They run with the bulls, raise a couple small clutchs per year, and maintain their numbers.
Some chickens have a lot more situational awareness than others.
 
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