So, Can Emus and Chickens Live Together? 

Emus are turning into something of a hot commodity here in the United States. Yes, they are very trendy thanks to their rise on social media, but these big, ancient birds are also very valuable, as are their products.

headshot of an emu bird
headshot of an emu bird

Aside from their huge size, taking care of them is a lot like taking care of other poultry, like chickens. Some chicken keepers are even taking the plunge with emus of their own.

But this raises a very important question: Can emus and chickens live together?

Yes, but with serious reservations. Emus and chickens can live together if the emus grew up alongside the chickens, but they are territorial and powerful, and can easily kill smaller birds when provoked.

Obviously, there’s a huge disparity between the size of chickens and emus, and I’m not just talking about the eggs. While they can get along and cohabitate peacefully, emus are easily set off and triggered by any new additions to their surroundings…

Obviously, even a minor tiff between an emu and a chicken will usually end up with the latter severely injured or dead. There’s a lot more that you’ll need to know before you even think of keeping these two species in the same space, so keep reading…

5 Things You NEED TO KNOW About Emus

Emus are Huge, Powerful Birds

In case you’re unfamiliar with them, I want to emphasize just how big emus are, and the difference between them and their smaller cousins.

On average adult emus will stand about 6 feet tall and weigh at least 100 pounds, with many closer to 130 pounds. Compared to chickens, they are titanic. Any emu that gets upset can deliver ferociously powerful kicks with their stout, heavily clawed feet.

The bottom line is that these birds are huge, and anytime you have such a difference in size between species letting them cohabitate always entails a certain amount of risk, even concerning simple accidents. But accidents are the least of your worries with emus…

Emus are Territorial and Twitchy…

The number one thing you need to know about emus concerning their behavior is that they’re very territorial. They might be fine with other emus that they know and trust, but any other animal that encroaches on their personal space or their self-defined territory is going to be confronted.

This means a person, a dog, a cat, and, yes, even chickens. Even a little baby chick… Emus don’t mess around when it comes to dealing with intruders, annoyances, or perceived threats; they know how big and strong they are, and are more than willing to resort to violence to solve problems.

Emus Will Easily Injure or Kill Chickens when Attacking

It shouldn’t take much in the way of imagination to think of what will happen if an emu decides that it doesn’t want a chicken around anymore.

They can and will stomp a chicken flat, easily, and they also tend to throw them up in the air with kicks or by lifting them with their beaks. Chickens are just not fast enough to get away from emus, which can run at 30+ miles per hour.

And yes, it’s nice to see them getting along with chickens that they grew up with, but emus can be set off by any number of things, from loud sounds to shiny objects or even just hormones during the mating season.

An emu that you raised from a chick might turn into an unholy terror without warning, and if chickens and their chicks are around, they will be the ones to pay the price.

Stories abound on the internet, if you care to look for them, of disasters like this occurring with emu owners that decided to leave their chickens in the same enclosure.

Likewise, new owners that foolishly put unfamiliar animals together with each other, too soon, have come back outside to witness the aftermath of horrible carnage.

Only Keep Both Together if they Grow Up Alongside Each Other

The only time you should even attempt to let emus and chickens cohabitate with each other is if you raise the emu from a chick right alongside and with the chickens.

I mean to say that you have a young emu chick, either one that you hatched yourself or is no more than a few days old, cohabitating with adult chickens or chicks.

Emus, like most birds, bond with other creatures that are around while they are very young, and these bonds typically persist into adulthood- though they are not unbreakable! Emus raised in this way will usually get along for the most part with chickens or other animals.

If for whatever reason you could not or would not raise the emu alongside your chickens, then I strongly recommend you avoid housing them together: disaster is all but inevitable in such a case.

New Additions to the Flock and Even Chicks are Suspect

Unfortunately, the bad news keeps coming…

Even if you’ve successfully raised the bigger bird alongside your smaller flock, and they have been getting along famously well, that’s only going to last until you have a new addition to your flock of chickens, or your chickens hatch their own chicks.

As terrible as it sounds, count on emus being spooked by chicks. When that happens, they will bite them, flip them, or stomp them with invariably lethal results. Emus might even eat your chicks! Never, ever trust an adult emu around any chicken chicks for any reason.

How Can You Keep Emus and Chickens?

The best way to keep emus and chickens together is to simply keep them in separate parts of your run or homestead. Your chickens need to have a run or space to themselves and the same for the emus. The emus shouldn’t be allowed to reach the chickens, even through a fence.

You should know that emus can jump very high and are surprisingly good climbers, meaning that a short split rail fence or something similar is not going to be sufficient to keep the two apart.

Also, even if you’ve raised the two species together and they seem to get along, your chickens must still have a place to retreat to in case the emus get upset. This could be a coop that the emus can’t fit inside or a short but sturdy covered stretch of run that the chickens can run to and hide under.

Remember: as tame as your emu seems and as much as you might trust it, remember that they are a bit neurotic and might flip out on the chickens for seemingly no reason at all.

Is There Any Way to Socialize Adult Emus with Chickens?

Not that I’m aware of, or at least not a reliable way.

I’ve heard some folks report success by keeping chickens in a strong and secure covered run that is adjacent to the emu enclosure, allowing the emus to see and get comfortable with the chickens while protecting the chickens from harm. That might be worth looking into…

But while some keepers reported a happy family in the end, others said that their emus were still wary or even plumb hostile to the chickens many months later, and would not risk putting them together.

So, again, the only likely solution is to raise an emu chick with chickens, and even this is not guaranteed.

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