Tick Patrol

Flora, Fauna, and Merriweather reporting for duty!

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Did I mention we have a tick problem? The goat-boys have been covered with them. They don’t seem to be biting, but the boys love to climb all over us, which means the ticks are soon climbing all over us too. Disgusting. Must be stopped.

I took to the interwebs to find a solution. We cannot be the only people with this problem. As you know, seeking advice from the interwebs always involves sifting through a lot of crackpots and garbage, but if you look long enough, eventually a consensus will start to form. The tick issue was no different. Lots of people with home remedies, scary ideas (cover your dairy goat in poison!), and even the hopeless souls proclaiming there is no answer. But a lot of people suggested a simple, harmless, and in my case, totally doable solution: let your chickens in the goat pen and they will eat the ticks.

Yes! I wanted to do this anyway. My poor girls have been cooped up (literally) all winter in a tiny run and henhouse. We had an incident in the fall with first a bobcat and then a neighbor’s dog, and our little flock was reduced from 5 to 3. Actually 5 to 1, and then we brought in some replacements.

An aside about the chickens: They are actually rescued chickens. We have a Buff Orpington (Flora), a Barred Rock (Fauna) and an Ameraucana (Merriweather). We got them from an organic farm outside Sacramento that was purging their flock. Most of them were destined for the soup pot, so we took a few. I have no idea how old they are, and only Flora and Merriweather actually lay eggs, but they are our girls and we love them.

We’re planning a major run-expansion and then we’ll get more hens. I’m a little stumped on what breeds to add. Usually mixed flocks don’t do so well – they can start to gang up on each other. Our girls get along great, but then, there’s no majority rule.  So maybe I should get three more of three different breeds? Any advice on that score?

6 thoughts on “Tick Patrol

  1. They had a ball in the goat pen today! Although it was hard to see if they were eating ticks, they were scratching and clucking and one girl just sat down and laid her egg right there in the grass. Too cute.

  2. I have cochins and ameraucanas and i would recommend the cochins they are tame and tick eaters extraordinares. They also love to go broody so you will have more and more chickens as time goes on with little effort on your part. I should add they eat very little and love to free range. hope that helps

  3. Thanks! I’ve never had Cochins before, but I like tame chickens. My Ameraucana is a good layer but she is not tame. It makes it hard to herd them, because she just completely freaks out.

  4. Have you considered diatomaceous earth for tick control? I know it can be used on dogs, but not sure about goats. It is supposed to be safe. It has to be food grade (not the kind used in swimming pools). Of course, the chicken eating idea is best, if it works.

  5. We actually have diatomaceous earth out there right now. We were using it around their sleeping area but I never thought of putting it right on them. That’s a good idea!

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