Chickens are good for more than just eggs and meat—they also make fantastic family pets. From their bold personalities to their entertaining curiosity, a flock of feathery pals can be the perfect addition to any backyard.
Like all pets, though, it takes dedication, research, and care to keep chickens happy and healthy. Create a suitable home for your flock with this beginner’s guide on how to keep chickens as family pets.
Know What You’re Buying
Not all chickens are the same. Before you jump into the life of a chicken keeper, you’ll need to decide which breed you want and when you want it. When looking at the different chicken breeds, consider details like size, hardiness, egg production, and temperament. Breeds that are more prone to gentle personalities—like Silkies or Rhode Island Reds—are great options for family pets, especially when you have young kids.
Once you’ve figured out the breed you want, you should also think about what age you want to get for your chicken. Hatching your own eggs means more work and equipment, but you get the benefit of adorable, fluffy, chirping chicks in your home.
Alternatively, rescue chickens—hens that come from commercial farms when they no longer lay a lot of eggs—are a popular choice for families looking strictly for a pet chicken. No matter what age you want, follow this link to read up on the different developmental stages of chickens so that you know exactly what to expect from your pet.
Figure Out Housing
Comfort and security are the keys to keeping happy chickens. That’s why you’ll need a sturdy coop for your birds to stay at night. If your chickens aren’t free-range, you should also make a secure run for them to roam around in. Your birds need a safe place to explore and play.
Coops and runs come in many styles, but there are a few general rules to keep in mind. Make sure your chickens’ home is big enough to fit everyone without squabbling. Secure fencing to keep out predators—including burrowing rodents—is also vital. Finally, make sure your coop stays dry to help keep the area clean and prevent the spread of diseases through your flock.
Prepare for Eggs Galore
One of the greatest benefits of pet chickens is the farm-fresh eggs. If you have multiple egg-laying hens, though, you might get more than you asked for. When figuring out how to keep chickens as family pets, make sure you know what you want to do with all the eggs your new pets provide.
You can get a license to sell at your local farmers market or share with your neighbors and friends. Just make sure you have a plan so that you don’t have to worry about an overflow of eggs in your home.
Once you’re past the initial uncertainty, keeping chickens is surprisingly easy—and a whole lot of fun. With these tips, the right equipment, and a love for your new flock, you can successfully make these feathery friends a welcome addition to the family.