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Keeping chickens as pets

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Keeping Chickens as Pets: Is it Good for You?

They aren’t your standard household pet or small fury animal you can watch running around a wheel, keeping chickens as pets can make a great alternative for both young and old. But as with any animal you are considering taking on, you should ensure you can provide them with the adequate space, housing and food and have the time to care for them properly.

What space do you have?

Chickens come in all shapes and sizes and can range from cheap common or garden breeds to more exotic specimens. They can also vary greatly in size from small bantams such as Pekins which are around 20-30cm tall to large breeds such as Cochin or Jersey Giants which can grow up to 60-70cms! You should take into consideration the room you have in your garden before deciding what kind of breed to go for as chickens will need a large run or area in which to roam and scratch about in. Their outdoor space will need to be secured to stop them escaping or predators gaining entry. Chickens like scratching about and foraging for food so if you are planning on letting them have the run of the garden, don’t expect your prized flowers or plants to escape their beak or feet!

As well as a large outdoor space, chickens need a covered, ventilated area which should have a dry floor covering such as wood shavings for them to dust bathe. They need access to clean water and food daily, usually corn or grain. Their housing will also need sectioning off to provide a specific, enclosed, draft free area for laying eggs (usually 1 per hen, per day) which will need hay or straw bedding and chickens also need a perch on which to roost at night and rest in the day. The perches should be rounded and long enough to allow all your chickens to roost on there at once and set at a suitable height for them to be able to jump onto comfortably.

The house should be secured well with chicken wire or other form of strong covering and set into the ground to prevent dogs or foxes from digging under. Whether you have your chickens in a suburban garden or roaming in a large field, foxes are bound to be their main predator and they will go to extreme lengths to gain entry to their coup. You might also want to consider locking them in their indoor section at night time and then let them out on a daily basis. Their housing overall should be big enough to allow plenty of space for roaming about, stretching their wings and other natural behaviours. 12 square metres is usually enough for up to 30 birds, so buy or build your chicken house accordingly.

keeping chickens as pets


If you are considering introducing a cockerel to the mix, consider how this may affect the dynamics among the hens. Cockerels may take a dislike to certain hens and have their favourites, leading to bullying and pecking amongst them. Cockerels will also fertilise the eggs laid by then hens and at some point, hens will get broody and want to sit on their eggs until they hatch. If this happens, you might want to take the eggs away and replace them with fake eggs for the hen to sit on or if you are happy for little chicks to join the brood then consider how they will fit into the group once they are older – cockerels don’t like other cockerels and become aggressive toward them so you may need to find a new home for any male chicks born. If you have neighbours, then consider them before getting a cockerel. You might be up at the crack of dawn but your neighbours might not appreciate a noisy chicken cock-a-doodle-doing at 5am! In some cases, it has lead to councils becoming involved and chicken owners facing charges of noise pollution.

Dogs and cats can often get fleas and ticks and in the chicken world, you should look out for lice and red mites which can be found over the body and under the wings. Check your chickens are healthy and happy; those who are reluctant to move, hide in the corner, fluff out their feathers or tuck their head under their wings may be showing signs of illness and should be monitored or taken to a vet.

Chickens are a great way of getting you out of the house and can help you enjoy your garden in a whole new way! They are relaxing to watch and will develop their own personalities and habits as you get to know them. So if you have the space and commitment, why not consider chickens as pets and have the added bonus of free eggs every week?!




About Rebecca Robinson

About Rebecca Robinson

After spending the last 8 years juggling life as a mum of two, wife and working full time as a Project Manager for a global telecommunications company, Rebecca Robinson made the decision to follow her love of writing and took the plunge; turning her passion into a full time career. Since becoming a full time writer, Rebecca has worked with various media and copy-writing companies and with the ability to make any topic relevant and interesting to the reader, now contributes to The Working Parent on articles ranging from credit cards to teenage relationships. Ever the optimist, Rebecca's dreams for the future include a house in the country filled with children, dogs and horses in the field!

Website: Rebecca Robinson

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