If you own a farm or have experienced raising animals, you must come up with an idea to take care of two kinds of animals at the same time. This is because it saves time, land, effort and even can bring a lot of interesting things to your farm.
So can sheep and chickens be the right decision?
You may also like: 21 Best Chicken Keeping eBooks
Can sheep and chickens live together?
Of course, sheep and chickens can have the room to live together. Raising sheep and chickens can be a fresh and exciting idea if you get some notices as well as solutions to get started.
Chickens help to reduce insects for sheep
Chickens are animals that love walking around to look for their food. So it would be a great idea to let sheep and chickens in the same place since chickens will dig in any insects, bugs, slugs, etc that annoy sheep and make them form a kind of parasite called deer worm.
Sheep usually sleep on the hay which can be dirty with sheep droppings very quickly. Once getting messy, it will attract a bunch of flies and bugs and make sheep feel uncomfortable.
In that case, chickens will look for their rich protein food by pecking sheep’s excrement. So it not only supplements chickens’ protein content but also prevents sheep from being bitten. (Source)
Sheep can be good protectors
Chickens are usually prone to attack by dogs, hawks, foxes, etc and this problem can be improved if adding big size animals like sheep. Sheep can protect chicken flocks from both ground and air predators. Especially, sheep bleat at night, so their vibrato and loud bleating can scare predators to stalk chickens.
However, it is just right with some small predators so you still need to build a safe with some protective methods to protect both sheep and chickens from larger, fiercer predators.
Apart from some diseases which can’t be transmitted from chickens to sheep, we are more concerned about diseases that have an impact on both mammals and birds.
Firstly, there is a disease called Cryptosporidiosis. It can be carried by infected chickens then spread to sheep and vice-versa.
Another bacteria which is contained in chickens’ intestines named Salmonella can also spread out. As chickens can leave their excrement anywhere, female sheep will access dirty environments and be contaminated. As a result, their children can get Salmonella bacteria and even can die. (Source)
Sheep can injure chickens and chicken eggs accidentally
Sheep do not pay attention to where they will step, so they can injure chickens accidentally from time to time.
They are much larger than chickens, so if chickens do not run quickly enough, it will be dangerous for them when being trampled.
It is also the same with chicken eggs, that is why you need to watch carefully and do not let chicken eggs nearby the sheep’s area.
It is not good for sheep and chickens to eat each other’s feed
Sheep loves eating chickens’ feed, especially grains. However, grains can create good conditions for rumen bacteria to develop and lead to diarrhea and bloating issues for sheep. In the worst case, sheep can die if they are not treated timely.
Furthermore, chickens also need dietary food with high protein and calcium content. Sheep feed does not have a balanced nutrition rate, therefore it is not good and adequate enough as well for chickens to consume sheep’s feed.
In addition, like we said, chickens can leave their droppings anywhere. So if chickens’ excrement is spread out on sheep’s hay, they will not eat them which means you have to change other clean hay and waste money.
What should we notice when letting sheep and chickens live together?
Serving specific food
Since we know it will bring more disadvantages than benefits if sheep and chickens have the same diet, we need to separate their food.
You need to provide sheep and chickens with suitable diets to help them develop in the best way. Also, keeping in mind to allow them to access uncontaminated water sources as well.
You should divide their house
It is totally fine to let sheep and chickens interact during the day, however, it would be better if you give them separate houses.
In fact, sheep and chickens can live in harmony since it is not any serious problem between them, but both of them have their distinctive features which require different places.
To be more specific, chickens need a warmer place than sheep. And another reason is that sheep require an enclosure without chickens because chickens can roost and leave their feces on sheep’s beds.
So, giving them their own spaces is a good way to help them live together for a long time comfortably.
Keeping their living environment as clean as possible
This is the best method to reduce disease appearance. Once a disease comes out, it is really hard to control and can lead to heavy losses. Therefore, it is always necessary and vital to let sheep and chickens live in a fresh and clean environment.
In conclusion, it certainly has a chance for sheep and chickens to live together. Letting them live together has both advantages and disadvantages, however, it will be fine if you know some essential caution and are equipped with proper solutions to deal with it.