Frenemies are described as those whom one is friendly with, despite a fundamental dislike or rivalry. Sometimes in life, we all must associate with others we normally wouldn’t choose to. Whether it’s simply being in the same space at the same time, or you require something from one another, we all learn to deal with others we would prefer not to. Our chickens also have to adapt to interacting with those whom I’m pretty sure they would classify as frenemies on a rather normal basis.
Our trio of kitties (Mo, Ollie, and Baby Kitty) can be found roaming the property, barns, and garages at all times. They protect the chickens from critters of all types. I’ve seen the cats protect chickens from snakes, squirrels, predator birds, and stray cats amongst others. So, when Baby Kitty was spotted running across the yard with a Silky chick in his mouth, we were shocked. Our other cats had never gone after our chicks. Since he’s now banned from the brooder area, Baby Kitty has a lot of trust to rebuild. When he gets older and used to the farm, I believe he will outgrow his chick obsession.
I have two bulldogs who like to protect the chickens in the summer and hang out with them in the barn in the winter, or at least say “hi”. The dogs also love to glare out the window watching “Peep TV”. Our male dog (Tank) likes to chase and play with them a bit, but only until he scares the poop out of them. Then he has acquired his favorite snack: “YUCK!” He loves chicken poop. Lou Bug, our female dog, likes to lay down and watch the chickens as they free-range around the property. Unless it’s a Silky, then the chicken will be held down and licked till it’s soaking and wet. What is it about Silkies? On a positive note though the dogs have chased off hawks, falcons, coons, and even an opossum to protect the chickens.
The cows provide extra food and warmth in the winter. In the summer they tend to keep critters out of the pasture, which may otherwise harm the chickens. Now cows are not majestic animals, they are big clumsy goofballs, which tends to lead to chickens getting under hoof. One broken chicken leg and a few minor injuries have occurred. Other than accidentally, our cows would never hurt them on purpose. They are simply big oversized babies who love to snuggle.
Goats seem to be more entertainment for the chickens than anything. They do help keep away the raccoons, skunks, and opossums from the chickens. They also enjoy chasing the chickens, so not really sure what the chickens think of them. Friend or foe? Maybe a little of both, making them a perfect example of a frenemy. On a bitterly cold day, you will find a few chickens snuggled right up with the goats. You will find others cleaning any leftover grain from the goat feeders.
So, when it comes to frenemies, I suppose chickens have many. I believe if you stick any two species together, the outcome can go either way. My animals are pretty good to each other, but that does not take away from the possibility that a strange dog could run onto the property and devastate our flock, or that a stray cat could get in the brooder and take out the spring chicks. Like us, each animal has its own personality. Watch each new addition to your farm carefully to ensure a good fit.