Monday, December 8, 2008

mail call: what of chickens and dog poo?

Got a nice piece of email from a prospective urban chicken farmer who's looking to do the right thing introducing chickens into the backyard that's shared by three dogs. I'm sharing the question here (and my response) in hopes that someone who knows differently can chime in and set us all straight. (See my post on cleaning eggs and the follow-up to show the wisdom of this crowd).

Here's the question:
Do you have any information regarding the hazards of exposure to canine feces on chickens? We have three sighthounds that, in addition to running around in, also poo and pee in our 1/2 acre backyard. We plan on purchasing an Eglu for the chickens. But in the event that I would let the chickens free-range, I wanted to know if I should start planning a designated corner of our backyard that the dogs can never enter, and subsequently, poop in.
And my response:
We let our chickens and our Great Dane, Argus, share the same backyard for the 15 months they overlapped, and we never had a problem with the chickens getting near the dog poop or the spots where he'd peed. We let Argus pretty much go wherever he wanted, so we had no control over where the poop or pee my show up, and the chickens seemed to be pretty good at staying away from it. Granted, we only had a single dog, and we were pretty good at not letting the piles accumulate, but unless you get really far behind cleaning up after the dogs, I don't think there'd be a problem.

From what I've seen, it's the birds that actually do more pooping on the lawn than the dog... they just spread it out all over instead of leaving it in one place.

We're training our new puppy, Kairos, to only go on the mulch, not the grass, so I'm hoping that helps keep the grass clear for the chooks to do their own defacating.

Our vet, at first, wasn't sure it was appropriate for Kairos to be in the backyard with the chooks until he had all his shots, just in case there was some disease that the birds might transmit. She did some research and concluded nothing the chickens might have could jump to canines, so now he's having fun in the backyard along with the chooks, stepping on lots of chicken poop hidden in the grass, I'm sure.
Anyone know any different about exposing your chickens to dog poop? (or vice versa) Please let us know!


Linda said...

I have 2 dogs, but I've never let them get close to the chickens. I was worried they may hurt the chickens, as both have shown strong hunting instincts. My main issue has been keeping the dogs away from the chicken droppings. When I cleaning the Eglus I have to be careful with the droppings tray so the dogs don't get to it as I'm taking it to the compost bin. And, if I track some droppings out of the coop into the rest of the yard or if any gets stuck on my shoe, the dogs will try to eat it. A thoroughly disgusting habit, but one that's really hard to break a dog of!

Grauhaus said...

Thanks for posting my question. I never considered that the dogs might be attracted to chicken poo! I think I will create a fenced, free-range corner for the chickens after all (outside of their Eglu run). I hate the idea of the dogs dragging chicken poo in the house... We can't wait for Spring!

Alys said...

I have no information about whether close contact with dog poo would be bad for chickens but my (unsubstantiated) feeling is that it might be. If you're concerned about that and if your chickens and dogs have access to the same ground, then make sure that your dog is not eating the chicken's grain. My dog LOVES their grain and will eat any that gets spilled on the ground. However she can't digest it and it comes out in her poo looking exactly the same as when it went in - brown dog poo with brightly coloured grains is a sight to be seen. :) If my hens found such poo, they might eat the grains, and heaven knows what else they'd pick up from it. I keep my hens and my dog in different parts of the yard.

And in case it helps anyone, this netting is great for keeping chickens enclosed:
(not affiliated with the website; I've just bought from them)


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