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cats and chickens  RSS feed

 
pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
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I really really want to have free range chickens on my property but I have 3 killer cats..so far the largest birds I have seen them actually kill are like doves or blue jays..however..they will kill a rabbit. I like the fact that they are good hunters as they keep the riff raff off the property (rats, mice, voles) however..I'm very afraid that IF I GET CHICKENS..they'll be expensive cat food.

I was wondering about buying already grown chickens..I know most people get the babies and raise them, but with the cats everywhere here, I'm afraid that won't work for us..even if I do lock them in a pen or something..when they are still small..I want them to be able to free range as I have tons of bushes and trees that grow food great for chicken forage.

I really want to build a coop and get me some chickens next year..I'm on atkins and I eat tons of very expensive eggs that aren't worth buying..I'm thinking of only say 4 or 5 chickens and a rooster (for chicken protection)..do you think it can be done or am I wasting my time??

yes I'm aware of chicken tractors, fencing, etc..but that won't help them to be able to forage in the brush and bushes and woods where there are tons of berries and nuts
 
Author
Posts: 28
Location: Southwest Virginia
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With a good rooster, your flock might make it. I used to think our rooster was worthless until we started free ranging the hens in the winter, but now I think he's worth his weight in gold. I'm not sure even a tough cat could beat a good rooster.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
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Anna that is what I was thinking too, but might the 3 cats split them up ..would I need more than one rooster? Or will the girls stay close to their man?
 
Anna Hess
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Posts: 28
Location: Southwest Virginia
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Our girls sometimes split up, but we've got 10 of them. With just a few hens, I'd think they'd all stay together, especially if they don't feel entirely safe.

Usually, our hens split up for one of two reasons. Either someone needs to go back to the coop to lay an egg (which you could prevent by waiting to let them out until everyone has laid), or we have subflocks happening. Subflocks are never good, but are hard to prevent if you're trying to add new chickens to an existing flock --- they don't integrate right away. If you get all your chickens from the same place, they should be nice to each other and stick together.
 
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Keep an eye on Craig's List. As winter approaches, many people begin down sizing their flocks.

Locally, I have seen several of those ads. People offering 6-12 hens for $5-10 for the whole lot!
(Their freezers must already be full.)
 
Posts: 587
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Cats will stalk a standard breed of chicken but cannot often successfully harm one...maybe a scratch or two. My cat is a killer also and would make a game of stalking the chickens but right as he would make a dash for them and make them run, he'd suddenly lie down and just smile. At first the rooster would chase him off a little ways but the rooster finally got used to this game and paid him no mind.

Then along came some chicks. By that time the cat understood that these animals were mine and you can play with them but not harm and broody hens are fierce. Cat was a stone killer of birds and so was the dog..but those are wild birds and they seem to be able to tell the difference.

I once had a neighbor who had many feral cats hanging around their place and these would try to stalk the chickens...and right behind them was my GP mix dog stalking the cats. It was always funny to watch the cats creeping low...and the dog creeping and freezing right along behind them..and then the sudden burst of activity wherein the cat would make a dash at the chicken, realize he was being pursued while in mid chase, make a turn in mid-air and streak for the woods with the dog right behind it. Good times!

You need a good farm dog that guards those chickens because you really can't train all the cats in the woods. You can't count on a rooster to protect them...some roos will do it, some will not brave a cat fight.

If you can't get a dog, get a .22 rifle and practice. If the cats are your own, aversion therapy around chicks can sometimes work....just watch and wait. A nice air soft rifle and patience can go a long way towards training those cats off messing with smaller birds and chicks. Cats can be trained, it just takes opportunity and method.
 
steward
Posts: 2814
Location: Moved from south central WI to Portland, OR
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bee bike chicken food preservation hugelkultur urban
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I agree with the idea of getting some started hens rather than little chicks. Our own cat is a big barn tabby (over 15 lbs and not obese) who mostly kills voles and mice but has killed rabbits, however he has never even tried to kill a chicken. Now, this may be that from his kittenhood he had Java the wonder dog letting him know those were HER chickens (may she rest in peace) but she's been gone for years now and he still leaves them alone.

Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems that chickens are super vulnerable to dogs, fox, raccoons and raptors, but not so much to domestic cats. Are there chicken keepers out there that have lost hens to feral cats? We have had feral cats take up residence in our hangar from time to time, but have never suffered losses to them. Hawk, yes, fox--hell yes (not since we installed an automatic coop door) but not cats.

A rooster is a fine idea if you can handle the noise. Roosters are quite insane when it comes to defending their harem--that's their purpose, after all. (If a rooster dies, there are a half dozen lurking in the jungle ready to take over harem guarding duties.) It was a big barred rock rooster that helped teach Java that chickens were to be guarded, not eaten.

Definitely get some hens--they are oodles of fun. Later on maybe you can get some chicks because that's even more fun!
 
Julia Winter
steward
Posts: 2814
Location: Moved from south central WI to Portland, OR
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bee bike chicken food preservation hugelkultur urban
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Hey Jay--stupid question--what's an air soft rifle? I ask because my husband has an "air rifle" but the thing shoots lead pellets. Are there rifles that just shoot compressed air, somehow? I searched and searched for biodegradable pellets to put in our air rifle so I could scare squirrels away from our bird feeders. . .

My current solution is to have a water weeder that shoots a good skinny stream, but the temps are plunging tonight so I'll have to put away all my hoses.
 
Posts: 1124
Location: Central Wyoming -zone 4
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chicken dog hugelkultur
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^ an airsoft rifle is a gun that uses either compressed CO2 or a spring to propel plastic BB's, i believe they sell biodegradable ones now but i wouldn't personally buy any that aren't, shooting plastic pellets to slowly chemicalize(no proof they do that that i have seen but it seems right to me) the soil just doesnt sound like my cup of tea
 
Jay Green
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Julia Winter wrote:Hey Jay--stupid question--what's an air soft rifle? I ask because my husband has an "air rifle" but the thing shoots lead pellets. Are there rifles that just shoot compressed air, somehow? I searched and searched for biodegradable pellets to put in our air rifle so I could scare squirrels away from our bird feeders. . .

My current solution is to have a water weeder that shoots a good skinny stream, but the temps are plunging tonight so I'll have to put away all my hoses.



They shoot a plastic pellet that won't penetrate but will sting. They are brightly colored and so can be easily picked up after you are done and then reused. They are remarkably accurate for some distance.

The few pellets one would have to use would never do anything to the soils...certainly not more than any cars passing by your place depositing pollution there would do~including your own. It's a few plastic pellets...it won't taint yer groundwater, believe me.
 
Posts: 73
Location: Central Valley California
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I agree that cats can sense our ownership of the chickens and see them as creatures that are off the menu. We have four cats who still enjoy lurking around the pen and actually go inside the pen, squirming under the holes in the fence, but they leave the chickens along. We even have a stray cat that comes in and eats the chicken food, weird.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
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thanks everyone for all the info..it has turned winter here and I have no coop so I'll have to wait until I can build a coop..but I'm going to plan on going for some chickens next year for sure..wish I had a coop now as I really could use some fresh eggs !!
 
Posts: 9
Location: Phu Quoc, Vietnam
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about shooting with plastic pellets at cats, my husband did that and one of my cats did get a bleeding injury on her leg from it. i was not amused. a water sprayer works just as fine (shorter distance of course).

well where i live it is common that most animals are allowed to roam freely. people don't seem to have issues with cats and chickens since they do keep mother hens who can guard her young ones very well. cat gets scared and learns its lesson.
also a nice little story, at one point i had 6 cats and the day came we wanted to start breeding ducks. our neighbor, a local farmer who knows her stuff helped us setting things up the way people do it here. she build a cage kind of thing on the lawn that was not completely closed on top (! i knew it wouldn't end well), and all my cats but one were at home and present when the 10 ducklings arrived and got placed in their temporary cage. of course the cats were curious but i think they understood by observing that those ducks were mine (i sat by the ducks all day lol)
the next morning however all ducklings were gone , i could find 2 and a half dead ones. the half dead one was lying under the open window of the empty room in which the cat that had't seen us placing the ducks in the cage slept. her belly was round like ready to burst lol! yep, i think she had a nice night meal of 7 and a half ducklings she mistook as accidentally being trapped in our garden. what i want to say is, that i think that cats , if they are sort of smart and close to you will understand not to touch your chickens (as others have said as well)
 
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From what I have seen with our very murderous, killer cats, chicks are in danger, but once they get about 1/2 grown, the tables turn!

Now my wife has to protect the cats from the chickens. We cannot feed the cats in the daytime, or the chickens will administer a beat-down on the cats and take their food. Now, the cats just run.

But the cats still kill everything else. Brought us a beautiful flying squirrel recently. Angered me that they killed it, as I'd never seen a real one before.

-TH
 
Posts: 13
Location: Sacramento, CA
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Cats and chickens can get along, but cats usually have to be taught to respect the chickens.

I bought my cat (kitten) from an organic farm where all the animals (chickens, cats, dogs, goats, maybe more ...) free-ranged together with absolutely no problems. Since my cat was raised that way, when we got baby chicks of our own, he wanted nothing to do with them, and would actually run out of the room when we tried to introduce them. Once they got bigger, he started "playing" with the chickens by chasing them around the yard a bit, but never with any intention of actually touching them, and would usually get chased off by the roosters pretty quickly. My cat does stalk other small game (mice, rats, birds) and keeps the neighborhood cats well away from our yard. But he certainly draws the line at chickens.

When dealing with cats not under your control, it can be helpful to have a guard dog. They are one of the best protections from predators that you can have in a free-range situation.

Good luck with your animals!
 
pollinator
Posts: 1453
Location: northern California
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A couple of geese or guinea fowl together with the chickens would be a good alarm and deterrent against all kinds of critters….both of these are more watchful, more noisy, and more aggressive than most chickens. I can't imagine any cat, and hardly any dog, coming around several together. The big problem will be to get them to get along with and hang out nearby the chickens themselves, but I have succeeded at this by raising them all from babies together. Guineas will fly off and become feral themselves given half a chance…..
 
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