An Old Gray Mare

Reader Contribution by Jenna Tyger
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I have an unusual barnyard pest that will take any chance she finds to break into our chicken coop.

Her name is Mercy, and she’s an old pony we keep as a companion for our younger horse, Cricket. She has a problem – like most ponies, she LOVES to eat. More than anything in the world. And she’ll eat whatever she can find. She doesn’t hurt the birds, but she does cost us money in wasted feed, could hurt herself, and could very well destroy our coop. The chickens aren’t generally thrilled about her presence in their home either.

She started this a couple years ago, and we’ve been trying to combat the problem ever since. When she gets into the coop, she manages to get the feed buckets open and eats all of the chicken feed. For those that don’t know much about a horse’s digestive system – this isn’t good. She’s generally an easy keeper, but horses (and ponies) will literally eat themselves to death if they’re allowed. They don’t have that signal that tells them to stop. And I’m sure chicken feed isn’t that great for them.

Since that photograph was taken, we added an enclosure around the pen. We actually added it because the chickens and guineas kept venturing into our neighbors’ yard, much to their dismay, but it has also served the purpose of keeping Mercy out of the coop. She’s barged through the coop door a few times, but not often.

Of all the pests to have in my coop, I’d say Mercy is probably the most preferable, but also one of the most unusual. I don’t have to worry about my chickens being killed with her around, I just have to worry about them starving when she eats all their food. I forgive her though … because look at that face!

What is the most unusual pest you’ve ever had in your barnyard or garden? What did you do to keep them away?

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