Are chickens good pets? If you want a pet that cares about you more than giving it food every day and a pet that likes physical attention. Then the answer is no.
But if you like animals and you want to have something to take care of but aren’t too concerned if you get to pick them up like a dog or a cat. Then yes they would make a good backyard pet.
Raising chickens are a great way to give you something to focus on but if you are not someone who wants a needy pet then keeping pet chickens outside is a great way to add to your life.
Chickens are farm animals and they do not make good house pets.
Number one is because they poop whenever and where ever they feel like it. They also pop while they are sleeping so you will have a pile underneath where they roost. Not a good attribute for a house pet. If you want to put chicken diapers on your flock I guess that’s your business but that is far from practical and I guarantee you that your chickens will have health issues if you do that.
They will jump up on anything they want to and knock anything that is in their way off the flat surface that is in their way. It is a good idea to have the chickens stay in the chicken coop with the occasional free range time IF you have the space. But I will talk about that later.
Chickens Are Naturally Flighty
There is a reason we have the derogatory term “are you chicken”. They are naturally a jumpy and skittish kind of critter and for good reason.
Chickens are at the bottom of the food chain and are also at the top of every wild predator’s favorite snack list. They really have no way to defend themself except to be careful and ready to move quickly when they have to.
Best Tips To Have The Best-Mannered Backyard Flock
If you know you are ready to be a chicken owner let’s go over some of the best tips to have a happy well-mannered flock.
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The Breed Is Everything
Not all chicken breeds are the same. Some are extremely bossy and have a tendency to get aggressive. I have a full post here on the best small chicken breeds for backyard flocks that you should check out.
There is a category called game birds which are the wildest and would be the worst breeds for beginners or having a smaller backyard flock.
The larger breeds that are dual-purpose tend to be more likely to be calm and less aggressive.
But here are my top recommendations for chickens if you care about personality and having great pets.
Cochin – Cochins are laid back but pretty curious. I have never had an aggressive one. They do have a tendency to go broody. Especially the blue splash Cochins.
Wyandotte – These are another calm breed that doesn’t get aggressive but they are agile enough to get out of a 5-foot fence.
Silkies – Very calm chickens and would make great family pets. They can be a little leary but if they trust you they will let you pick them up. However, they are not very hardy birds. They are not easy to raise as baby chicks and they need good protection from the elements.
Buff Orpingtons – Or any Orpington color would do find but they are also a great breed. They are very similar to the wyandottes in temperament and agility.
Black Astrolorp – These are a bit more flighty and tend to wander more than the above breeds. But they are a breed with their own personality and are very nosy. So if you are looking for a more entertaining breed then this would be a good choice
Easter eggers – These can be very well-mannered but they can also be less patent. I would recommend raising this breed from chicks yourself.
It is possible that you can have more than one rooster get along in a flock but you are going to have the best chances of a flock that gets along well if you just have one rooster.
Currently, we have 4 roosters in a flock of 16 chickens and one of them is defiantly the odd one out. The rest of the flock isn’t mean to him but he is off on his own most of the time and has no say in what goes on with the flock.
Do Not Tolerate Bad Behavior
This is an area where people get it wrong. We are tolerating bad behavior from kids and even other adults as well as our animals.
Other animals do not tolerate bad behavior or an animal stepping out of line. So why are we as humans going to tolerate it from our animals?
The Best Way You Can Fix A Chickens Behavior Is To Speak Their Language
Pay attention to how they communicate with each other. If they step out of line the other chickens don’t just say “oh that’s ok” you do you.
NO! they get a full-on reprimand on even a good head smack from the other chickens.
Look at roosters deciding who’s boss. They have an all-out battle with each other and you might very well have to do that with one of your roosters who has designed to see if he can boss you around or not.
A perfect example is when we were having our annual fall picnic at our small farm I had to have a teaching moment when one of my roosters. My young 10-year-old cousin had no idea what he was doing but the way he was leaning down on the picnic table bench the lead rooster took it as an offense.
I had to step in and push the rooster back with my body language to remind him that he was not going to challenge anyone and I was the boss that he had to abide by. There were some threats made by both of us (using our feet if you get my drift) and I stood my ground until he decided it wasn’t worth it and went back to the flock.
We haven’t had an issue since.
You may have to have a teaching lesson with your roosters and that’s ok. But if you don’t you will have a problem on your hands.
Know Your Line In The Sand
Whether or not you are having issues with a chicken think about what you would do if you had one that just would not straighten out no matter what you tried. You need to know if you are going to tolerate it, find it a new home, or just end it and be done with the mean little critter.
There is NO SHAME in adding a mean animal to the freezer. That is the country lifestyle and if you can stand the heat then get out of the kitchen. Sorry, not sorry.
A few years a go we had a neighbor who was moving away and they were needing to find a place for their chickens. So without much thought I agreed to take them…
… Well… First off they were Rhode Island Reds. First big red flag.
They had been penned up away from people their whole life and not thought manners how to interact with humans and by the time a chicken is over a year old that is going to be a big problem.
The next morning after moving the new flock over to ours I had left them loose in the yard. The new rooster had the guts to attack my 115-pound dog!!!
You Need To Have An Air Of Confidence
Just like I said before with having to reprimand them and be bold on occasion you are going to have to have a bold presence when you go out to the chicken area. Chickens have a pecking order. In other words, there is one flock leader and some that are higher ranking then others. There are some chickens that are very low on the proverbial totem poll and that’s just facts.
If you don’t keep a bold confident presence, your own backyard chickens will try to boss you. Act confident and walk swiftly when you are around them. Hold your head high. Do not retract when they come walking up to you.
Three to Six Birds Is A Good Size Flock
If you are going to raise chickens in a smaller backyard then 3-6 is a good number. Chickens are flock animals so they do need to have some feathered friends to hang out with. But three would do it if you are limited.
If you want to be well supplied in eggs then having one good laying chicken per family member plus 2-3 more if you like to bake at least one thing every week.
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Have Large Birds That Can’t Jump Or Fly
I LOVE my Cochins and the reason is that they are too large to fly or even jump over a fence. This means they will stay where I put them and they won’t be all over the backyard getting into my plants.
There are lots of breeds that don’t really “fly” but they can jump over a 5-foot chain link fence. and there is nothing more annoying than having to herd your chicken back into your yard and keep them out of the neighbor’s flower bed.
If you are wanting to have a large breed then the general rule would be large wide bodies will keep your flock grounded.
Are Chickens Hard To Keep As Pets
Chicken keeping is a pretty easy project to start if you want to get into the country lifestyle whether you live in the city limits or you are out in the country. If you keep your chickens outside in a hen house adult chickens are pretty easy to care for. Here are the basics you would need to have to care for your chickens.
Like any animal, they need access to fresh water.
I will give you a heads-up that chickens can be pretty nasty when it comes to their water bowls. You have to remember that they peck and scratch at the dirt so their water is going to get dirty pretty quickly. Just dump the waterer out once a day and add clean water and don’t stress over it. They will oftentimes choose to drink out of a nasty mud puddle even though they have access to fresh water.
Large Ruber Bowls
These bowls are awesome because they are easily turned over and the ice broke out of them in the winter AND they last longer than any plastic feeder you will have. Check them out on Amazon!
Feed Them Layer Pellets Once A Day
One large standard chicken will eat about 1/4th pound of feed per day if you are not feeding anything else like table scraps or they are not grazing around the yard eating bugs and grass. If you are keeping chickens for egg production you want to be feeding them the layer pellets because this gives them the nutrition they need to keep laying. If they don’t get their nutritional needs meet to produce the eggs the egg count will drop drastically.
There are a few reasons I recommend feeding your chickens what they can clean up once a day. This will help reduce feed waste but here is the biggest reason. If your feeder is easily accessed by wild birds you could end up feeding all the nearby wildlife too. Which might not sound like a big deal. But the wild birds will quickly bring with them mites and other health problems that will make your birds sick.
I was feeding our adult birds with a 5-gallon bucket feeder for a while until one summer we battled mites all summer and that was the end of that. We had to spread diatomaceous earth all over the yard and keep dusting the birds once a week until they were all gone.
So now I just feed them the amount they will clean up once a day and that works well.
This is something that people have a really hard time grasping or think they are going to avoid. Chickens are going to be eaten by something at some point. Do the best you and be ok with that. You can’t ride the emotional rollercoaster of the loss of animals and expect to stick with it.
With that said you can have a chicken run which is an area that is fenced in either with chain-link or chicken wire. It will be even better if the top is also covered with wire to keep predators out. But this is not realistic for most people. Dawn and dusk are the most likely times they will be attacked so making sure they have a secure chicken coop to sleep in that has a CLOSED DOOR a night is going to help a lot.
We used to open and close the chicken coop door. Every….. single…. night…. and let me tell you it was a pain. Until we got an automatic chicken coop door which has been a God send.
Automatic Coop Door
This one is very similar to the door we have BUT they have an app to change the time you want the coop door to open and close!!! This is a feature I wish we had. Check it out on amazon!
Do Chickens Like To Be Petted
The short answer is no.
Those videos where the chickens are being held by small children are so few and far between. Chickens like I said earlier are very flighty. There is a reason the term “are you chicken” is not meant in a good way. Chickens are social animals with other chickens because there is safety in numbers. However, they are not naturally affectionate towards people. They will come up and watch you for a second if you are out in the yard but they are not like dogs where they need your touch to feel affection.
Do Chickens Make Good House Pets
Definitely not. They poop all the time and have no manners and there is no training that into them. They will be constantly jumping on things and they also shed feathers so there’s that too.
Benefits Of Having A Small Backyard Flock
There are lots of good reasons to start raising chickens.
- You have farm-fresh eggs at your fingertips.
- Watching chickens click around in the backyard is very calming.
- Having something to nurture and care for is a healthy thing for humans.
I hope this helps you decide if chickens are right for you. I have covered everything that could be a desition making factor in whether or not you should start raising your own chickens. Start with a small flock and add different breeds of chickens as you find your groove.