I have kept pigs and chickens in the same paddock with success, but each one had its own shelter - the chickens have a portable chicken tractor and the pigs slept in a calf hutch (when they wanted to). But, when it came time to move them, I had to move each shelter separately. Being the lazy SOB that I am, I'm wondering if I can have one shelter for both - open to ground with deep straw bedding, pigs sleep on the bottom with roosts above for the chickens? This would be true 'function stacking' with the shelter only needing to be a foot or 2 higher than the current ones are. I understood that Sepp does this, but from what I saw the buildings looked rather large with only a few pigs and chickens in them (at least when I was there), and I am thinking a full house of chickens on perches at night. Has anyone had success with this?
- Will pigs get covered in chicken manure?
- As deep bedding accumulates chicken manure, will pigs refuse to sleep in it? (may be a function of how long they stay in one spot)
- It would be more difficult to secure the chickens at night, would the pigs keep predators - raccoon, foxes, etc away, just by their presence?
- I would lose the ability to have the chickens follow behind pigs, but I don't know if it is that critical.
- Good ventilation would be important
- Would pigs be annoyed if I kept a light on a few hours a night for the chickens?
I've not had a large number of chickens sharing with the pigs, but a lot of my pig groups have a handful of chickens with them and they work it out. It's pretty common to see the chickens roosting on the pigs themselves. In that kind of scenario, I assume the pigs are going to be getting the eggs instead of me.
Keeping chickens with pigs is at least as good and probably better than following them.
I don't lock my chickens up - the dogs and pigs are both pretty good at keeping predators away.
Questions and thoughts: How do you move your shelters? What about doing a single shelter with a chicken side and a pig side? Make the chicken side so the pigs cannot get in and put nest boxes in there, assuming you want eggs, rather than the pigs cleaning them up. Then the chickens could choose to hang with the hogs or sleep in their own pad.
posted 4 years ago
Here is my current set up. It works, but I'm also continuing my quest to be even lazier. I built the coop on a harbor freight trailer and I hook it up to my truck or my electric golf cart. For the pigs and goats I used a calf hutch with a home built door. The idea was to protect them from predators at night - but I'm sure a mountain lion could have got under it if it really wanted to. Now I have LGDs (Maremmas) so it may be less of an issue. The calf hutches are pushing about 100lbs - I get inside 'stand up' and move it, but it's a bit of a b***ch and comical to anyone watching. I'm in Nor Cal so for the pigs the shelter is mostly about keeping them dry and out of the wind in the winter storms, not insulated as much from the cold. If I had a little taller coop (bigger wheels), with some sort of skirt, the pigs may be quite happy underneath it. As for a 'gen 1' set up, it worked well enough for 20+ chickens and 2 sets of 2 pigs, but as I grow with more chickens and pigs in the future, I want to continue to streamline. I'm curious how other people have solved this issue. Thanks for the feedback.
posted 4 years ago
A few more photos while I'm posting. For the coop originally I had 1/2" aperture welded wire mesh, but the poop seemed to catch on it and make a big mess. I covered it with plywood with straw on top for a 'deep bedding' technique, but no matter how much I seem to put in, it gets matted down quickly. I'm emulating Geoff Lawton's Chicken Tractor on Steroids Video with kitchen scraps. The dogs are currently in a "U" shaped run around the chickens to create a 3-sided dog 'moat', but also to keep them out of the chicken pen. They are still to young understand their role to protect chickens and I haven't spent the time to train them. It works well, but it's a b***ch to set up which means I'm not moving it as often as I should - I have a new set up I'll be working on to give the dogs more space to roam without leaving the property.
We keep chickens and pigs together just fine. It is a beneficial arrangement. In the cold weather the pigs provide heat - the chickens like to roost on them. In the summer the chickens provide organic pest control. Year round our hens provide tens of thousands of eggs which we feed cooked towards the younger pigs to get the most nutritional leverage. During the winter months we feed our pigs to the chickens - butcher scraps of meat. Grind or cook for maximum consumption. We have chicken feeders and egg boxes plus rafter roosts up in places away from the pigs - there's calcium and grit up there too.
@P. Freeburger: "I am thinking a full house of chickens on perches at night. Has anyone had success with this?" yes
- Will pigs get covered in chicken manure?>> Our pigs are in shelters within a large out-building. Shelters are made of 2X4 with plywood siding. If you place tarps on top of such shelters, the tarps can be removed of the droppings and cleaned during warm periods. The chickens just roost in the rafters.
- As deep bedding accumulates chicken manure, will pigs refuse to sleep in it? (may be a function of how long they stay in one spot)>> Would not advise this but would depend on how many of each animal.
- It would be more difficult to secure the chickens at night, would the pigs keep predators - raccoon, foxes, etc away, just by their presence?>> In our experience no, ......but you have the Maremmas which may take care of that problem. We've had racoon, mink, and fox come right past the pigs during the night to get chickens. None in the past few years due to added Anatolians on the property.
- I would lose the ability to have the chickens follow behind pigs, but I don't know if it is that critical.>> Our chickens and pigs just intermix in space and time.
- Good ventilation would be important>> Always good for everything.
- Would pigs be annoyed if I kept a light on a few hours a night for the chickens?>> No. Pigs will sleep through much non-threatening commotion. Our house pig sleeps near the TV and has slept right through a marathon of action movies....
“The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.”― Albert Einstein
posted 4 years ago
Walter, John, Thanks for feedback. Do either of you have pics of your shelters you can share? Yes, the Maremmas have done a good job (knock on wood) of keeping predators away.
Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
posted 4 years ago
Ours vary from our open sheds to hoop houses. Some photos here:
There are many different places the chickens roost. Over the winter they are in the more protected open sheds and hoops. During the summers they often roost out in the trees. Year round a few of them insist that fence lines are the best spots even in snow storms. They have choices so I don't argue.
Walter, Thanks I am a big fan of your blog and I used it before getting my LGDs. John, thanks for the tarp idea I will try that. I will build some cheap hoop houses as well and see how the animals do. I will keep you posted.
Okay. Here is my first post. Patrick, how do you do. I found this forum. I live in Los Altos. I have been practicing / learning permaculture since 1995. I spent 6 years in the desert (Henderson/Boulder City Nevada) and learned amazing things can grow there with permaculture. I'm currently looking for a property since we came back to the South Bay. I have my dwarf fruit trees in containers and am ready to set up a new design. My experience with bantam hens was a great coop and tractor range cage that I was able to move around the yard. Then a racoon literally ripped off the wooden nest box that was well attached to the night house. The birds were gone in one night. I couldn't believe how strong they were. Now I know why my friends cage them in the garage with chain link fence for their run.