You might have noticed that the urban chicken business has exploded this past decade. Many people raise chickens for fresh meat and eggs. But did you know there is an expanding market of people looking for pet chickens? You might be thinking this is impossible. They are large birds, after all. But a part of you is wondering, do chickens make good pets? Keep reading to be persuaded into your own small flock.
Do Chickens Make Good Pets?
We might be biased, but we think chickens make fabulous pets. They might be a lot of work at first, but the payout is remarkable. Even though they are birds, they have huge personalities. Many people enjoy sitting and watching them scratch around the yard. Some chickens will even grow to have affection for you and your children.
That’s right. Chickens are a fantastic pet for kids. It’s an excellent way for kids to learn responsibility and how to be self-reliant. Your kids will love learning about eggs, where they come from, and possibly how to raise chicks. It’s a fantastic learning process for you both. However, you shouldn’t take the job lightly. Let’s look at a few pros and cons of owning chickens.
Pros Of Owning Chickens
The first thing we will look at is all the reasons people love chickens. Some of these might be topics you have already thought of, and some might be shocking.
Chickens have a terrible reputation for being dumb animals, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. They are intelligent birds that actually get into a lot of trouble at times. You will love watching your hens peck around the yard and interacting with each other.
While chickens might have a docile nature, each one is entirely unique. They all have different likes and dislikes. One hen might like following you around the yard while another prefers to do their own thing. There are even some chickens that love to cuddle and sit in your lap. You can have a sassy hen and one that is an obvious mother hen. And this variety of personality makes them fun to have.
Variety Of Breeds
Another great thing about chickens is that there are so many different breeds. They come in all different colors and sizes, and some even lay a variety of colored eggs. You could have a beautiful mixed flock and never get bored.
Let’s not forget the pro on everyone’s mind, EGGS! When you have pet chickens, you also have bountiful farm fresh eggs. And right from your own backyard. Some hens will even lay an egg a day. They are a pet that earns their keep.
If you have a vegetable garden, you will love chickens. Chicken manure is high in nitrogen, which vegetables thrive in. You can compost all of the bedding and feces from the coop and create a rich fertilizer.
Chickens are excellent bug killers. If there are any beetles, slugs, or snails in the yard, your hens will get them. These creepy crawlies are a staple for any chicken diet, and you should encourage them to forage for it every chance they get. Say bye-bye to any bug infestations under your flock’s watch.
Our next pro is how long chickens live. While they don’t lay eggs their whole lives, they do live about 8-10 years. So you can keep your beloved pets around for years to come.
Cons Of Owning Chickens
As you can guess, taking care of chickens is no easy task. They are a lot of hard work, and not all of it is fun. But if you can get through this list of cons, chickens will be a terrific pet for you.
One of the biggest obstacles you might face is the law. Chickens aren’t legal everywhere, especially within city limits. Some counties require you to have so much land to qualify for chickens. And in other states, the county laws and city laws might be different. Before you get too far into pet chickens, you should investigate the stipulations.
Another big complaint that chicken owners have is that they are loud. Your hens will start squawking at the first morning light to get out of the coop. And if you have neighbors close by, they might complain too. And that’s just the every day chatter of the flock. There are times when your flock’s dynamics are upset, and they could fight. This can get rather loud and might take days to settle the girls back down.
Chickens are naturally very social birds, and they need to have friends. Your little pet flock should have at least two hens. But the more, the merrier with these birds. Of course, that means you will need space, food, and supplies for multiple chickens.
Now, let’s talk about the space you will need for your hens. Because even though these hens are small, they need a lot of room. Your coop will need at least 3 sqft per hen along with a safe run of 10 sqft per bird. That’s a lot of space, so they aren’t great for small yards. And the more you have, the larger coop and run you need.
In most cities, roosters are illegal in urban settings. That is because they are loud and crow all the time, not just in the morning. But there are other reasons to avoid roosters. Roos are protective boys that stand watch over their ladies, and that’s a task they don’t take lightly. Most of them aren’t fond of people and might protect the flock from humans. And they are especially not safe around kids.
Chickens poop a lot. You will need to take time to clean the coop and run regularly. But it doesn’t stop there. You will also have to clean the water dishes, food pans, treat pans, and walkways. So be prepared for the commitment when you bring pet chickens into your life.
And finally, chickens are fantastic pets, but they are hard on the lawn. Chickens love to run around to look for food. And in the process, they tend to destroy your property. But it’s not impossible to keep up maintenance if you put in a little extra work. Special herb gardens, planted chicken runs, and enrichment treats will all deter chickens from your grass.
So do you think chickens are for you? Fantastic! Now let’s talk a little about what all you need to start keeping chickens.
Chickens need a coop to keep them safe from the elements. Coops always have a roosting bar for them to sleep at night and nesting boxes for laying eggs. Most pre-fab coops on the market are too small, though. Before buying anything, you will need to make sure that the coop has 3 sqft of space per chicken. And the roost needs 10 inches of space for sleeping.
Pet chickens are some of the easiest things to feed. For each stage of a hen’s life, there is a commercial feed for them. There is a chick starter feed, grower feed for the “teen” years, and layer feed for egg-laying hens. Each feed is designed to give them everything they need for the best health. The only other things your hens will need are crushed oyster shells for calcium and grit for digestion.
Chickens don’t need a walk around the block, but they do need room to roam. You have to make your chickens work for their food. Let them run and explore the yard to burn off calories. If chickens don’t have this roaming time, they become overweight quickly. And that means that your hens could experience a few health problems.
Thanks to modern breeding and vaccinations, there aren’t too many things you have to worry about with your hens. They are hardy birds that withstand disease well. With proper diets, you won’t have to worry too much about conditions. You will have to deworm your hens at least twice a year and regularly treat them for mites. Other than that, they are fit as a fiddle.
The Best Breeds
If you want to keep hens as pets, some breeds are better than others. Here are a few of the best pet chickens out there.
- Silkies- These birds are as fun as they are entertaining. Silkies are known as some of the gentlest chicken breeds. They even love cuddling and spending time with their people.
- Australorp- No chicken is as sturdy as the Australorp. They are docile birds that love everybody. They are also handy to have in your flock for winter eggs.
- Orpingtons- And finally, we have some of the quietest chickens there are. Orpingtons lay amazing eggs, have docile temperaments and are unusually quiet for a chicken.
What’s Your Verdict?
Do chickens make good pets for you? While they aren’t the easiest pets to take care of, they can be some of the most rewarding.