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iLLt3cK

Herding chickens?

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My dream of owning a ranch is still out of reach but I've considered raising chickens to herd in the mean time. Does anyone else have experience?

I'd plan on keeping 4 chickens and and allowing them to explore the backyard during the day (I work from home). My plan would be to have the dogs move the chickens around the backyard gently as well as encourage them into their coop at night. My border collies have worked sheep and a little bit of cattle, know their manners around livestock, etc.

If this is a good idea - is there a preferred breed of chicken?

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Chickens don't flock like some animals and that puts some dogs off.

My experience with backyard chickens varied. One dog was amazing with chickens, and he worked them much more gently than he did sheep. That made it easy to fine tune his work and teach him new things because he was very keen but could also be tough and if he'd get frustrated with the sheep would have a tendency to grip. We had 5 hens and 1 rooster, who was the devil incarnate. He'd attack anything and everything. Mirk didn't put up with much from the sheep but would allow the rooster to attack him exactly 4 times without disciplining him. The 5th time though he'd grab the rooster and gently mouth him, never causing the least harm except perhaps the the rooster's ego.

Another dog, who was far easier to work on sheep, tried the chickens a time or 2. When they didn't react like the sheep did and just scattered rather than flocking she'd stand in the middle of them, turn and give me a very distinct WTF look and walk away. Couldn't convince her they were worth her time.

I don't think it was simply a matter of power; although different, neither dog had any difficulty controlling sheep. But one was respected by the chickens and would move wherever the dog wanted them to go while they really didn't pay much attention to the other.  

I've only had Rhode Island reds so have no insight into whether there'd be a difference.

Border collies are often used to herd ducks, geese and even turkeys, though I have no experience with these. Got either some ducklings or goslings (I think the latter) with the intention of using them for some backyard training but got rid of them after 3 days or so. Filthy things that I really didn't want to raise in my smallish back yard and they'd have been fox bait at the pasture.

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Gentle Lake,

Thanks for the feedback, greatly appreciated.

I've heard the same about ducks and have avoided researching further based upon similar feedback.

Another option I'm considering is guinea hens although I've heard they are loud and may not be suitable for a neighborhood although they mow through bugs and flock well like sheep.

Has anyone raised guinea hens?

I laughed out loud at your description of your rooster. I don't plan on raising further chickens would like to avoid the hassle of a rooster where possible!

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Chickens don't herd well. If they don't feel like going and they can't out maneuver the dog, they will fly. If they want to go to a certain place but just need a little help going far enough to find the edge of the fence and get around the corner, a dog works great. 

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