Dogs are highly regarded as man’s best friend. Cats, although sometimes elusive, are also widely considered desirable companions. Birds, guinea pigs, lizards, and even micro pigs have each had a season of being seen as a popular pet to own. Recently, however, there is a new animal as queen of the coop. Chickens!
Yes, chickens are often considered quite the feathered novelty for one’s farm. There are several different reasons for their popularity. However, it is vital to ensure backyard poultry have the same veterinary care that other animals have for a successful experience. Although undoubtedly useful, the question remains: are chickens good pets?
Why Would You Want Pet Chickens?
One benefit to chickens is, of course, their ability to contribute to the nourishment of a household. By laying eggs daily or weekly, they can help you skip that item on your grocery list. Did you know that if you wait to wash or refrigerate chicken eggs, they can last weeks longer than store-bought eggs? It’s true!
Additionally, fresh chicken eggs are much better for you than factory-farmed chicken eggs. You’ll notice a difference in the yolk color (bright orange for farm eggs vs. pale yellow for factory eggs.) This also visibly represents the higher nutrient content of farm eggs. Farm eggs have higher omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, and Vitamin E levels. Even better- they’re lower in both saturated fat and cholesterol!
Chickens provide food, but they can also help you get rid of food too. Chickens can eat just about any leftovers, whether it be vegetables, fruits, or even meat. You only want to avoid feeding chickens are uncooked eggs, chocolate, moldy foods, or something too sweet. Additionally, they can dig through your compost bins while searching for a variety of food, already saving you an extra chore!
Not only are chickens great for providing eggs, but they also can add to the sustainability and success of your outdoor environment. When allowed to roam, chickens will often eat the pesky garden pets that might be helping themselves to your delicious garden grows. Earwigs, beetles, grubs, worms, grasshoppers, ticks, and even small rodents are all dinner options for chickens.
They’ll also even mow down your grass! Not to mention that chickens provide a great resource of all-natural fertilizer after they dine! Although it is wise to be mindful of how much chicken manure you spread, it is a safe, all-natural method for fertilizing your plants.
Another reason chickens make valuable pets is that they can be great for teaching children responsibility. While a reasonably low-maintenance pet, they still require love and care. Hard work is needed to collect the eggs, feed the chickens, and tend to their needs.
If you’re feeling ambitions in the chicken-owning sphere, you can take on the challenge of training your chickens. Believe it or not, studies have shown that chickens are intelligent creatures. They can do tricks and even be trained to recall! As long as you set yourself up with lots of patience and a few treats, you may find that you have a new act!
What Chicken Breeds Are Good for Beginners?
Chickens are one of the most inexpensive, most uncomplicated, and self-sufficient pets to have. Children can watch them mature from chicks into adults and quite literally reap the reward of their adulthood. As a parent, you’ll be thrilled that you don’t need to walk, groom, feed multiple times, or even take these pets to the vet.
If you plan on raising chickens, the first thing to consider is the type of breed.
Here are a few recommendations to help you narrow down your choices:
Barred Plymouth Rocks
Excellent egg layers and also very friendly and calm birds.
Wonderful egg layers which also love to be held and do well in backyards.
Another great egg-laying breed. This time with a glossy black sheen.
Not great at laying eggs, but an excellent pet to have as they are quite affectionate!
A small, low-maintenance chicken breed that does well in confinement.
Very gentle with an ability to do well in confinement as well.
Once you have your chicken breed selected, be sure to research the following things. First, make sure that you have proper housing set up for them. You will want a solid and well-constructed coop that protects against predators. Each chicken needs at least 4 square feet of space, and you will also need to consider places for them to roost, nest, eat, and drink. Additionally, you will want a way to secure the chickens inside the coop each night safely.
Along with proper housing, your chickens will also need adequate nutrition. Depending on the age and type of bird, you will need to provide different levels of protein and calcium. Your local feed store can help with this. Finally, you will want to have a plan for interaction with your chickens and keep their areas clean. If you are up to these tasks, chickens might be the perfect pet for you!