Photo by: Scott Woods-Fehr

Keeping Chickens as Pets

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It’s popular to keep chickens for eggs and for meat, but what about keeping a chicken as a pet? In some countries, this is actually quite popular. Cat, dog, or chicken? Any chicken can ideally be a pet if raised gently, but some breeds make much better pets than others. Keeping a chicken as a pet isn’t much different from regular chicken husbandry, but there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Start From the Beginning

There are few things quite as rewarding from raising a chicken from an egg, or at least a very young chick. One can purchase young chicks online or from their local farm supply store and must keep them in an incubator for the first several weeks. The more you handle them and the gentler you are with them, the more your chicks will trust you and respond well to human touch. Squat down to handle your chicks, don’t make fast motions, feed them from your hands, and make sure that small children don’t run around them or handle them roughly. Teach your children to handle them gently, to feed them, and to treat the birds well. This is an excellent chance to educate your children and sure to create a lasting relationship between your kids and your family’s new pets.

Some Breeds Are Better Choices Than Others

While all chickens can make decent pets, some are naturally better tempered than others. Hens are the best choice and quiet, gentle breeds make the best bets. Bantam chickens are much smaller than regular breeds, making them easier to hold. Looks, coloring, and size are all a matter of preference.

Silkie Chickens make excellent pets and their silk-like feathers make them appealing to hold as well. Docile, soft, and easy to carry, the Silkie Chicken is the ideal pet. They are friendly, especially if they’re been handled frequently from the time they were young. Silkie Chickens also make excellent mothers, so if you want to increase the size of your flock this breed may be just what you’re looking for.

Ameraucana chickens are also popular pets and an added perk is that they lay lovely, colorful eggs. They are known for their unique looks and their gentle temperament. They are not the best egg layers when it comes to quantity, but they are good with children, easy to care for, and even-tempered.

Other breeds that make excellent pets are Cochins, Mille Fleurs, Brahmas, Austerlorps, Sussex, Plymouth Rocks, and Buff Orpingtons. No matter which breed you choose, do your research! Each has distinct advantages and disadvantages.

Keeping Your Pets Safe

Before buying your first chicks, take account of the pets you already have. Dogs and chickens often don’t mix well. Certain breeds, like Jack Russell Terriers, have been bred to kill small creatures. A chasing, nipping dog can easily kill a chicken. Training a puppy to be gentle with chicks and chickens is much easier than training a full-grown dog to do the same things. Even when you have trained your dog, it’s never wise to leave your dog alone with your pet chickens. The results can be disastrous. The same can be said for cats. Keep in mind that many creatures prey on chickens and that you must take extra precautions to keep your pets from becoming another animal’s dinner.

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