Are you considering Chickens as pets? They are great pets but they are not your average pet. There are special things to consider and issues to be aware of before you rush out and buy a bunch of cute little chicks!
Are Chickens good pets? Yes, when you know how to handle them. You can even keep them in the house for the first 6 weeks if you want. They are great with kids but they do need special attention until they are fully feathered. Until then they cannot keep warm by themselves.
That’s the short answer.
Let’s look at the question in more detail and answer some questions people often have about chicks and chickens. We will also look at the most common problems people encounter after they get chickens.
What supplies will I need?
You actually need quite a lot of stuff in order to keep Chickens.
First and foremost you need a good outdoor space in order to build a Chicken run once the little chicks grow bigger. Let’s take a look at the things you need in the beginning first and then move on to a list of things you will need eventually when they are fully feathered.
Things you need while the chicks are small (6-8 weeks):
- Heat lamp (to keep the little chicks warm while they do not have feathers. You should go for a lamp around 250-200 Watts, depending on how many chicks you have and how many lamps you have. You should always go for red light bulbs because in white light the chicks might start pecking on each other. In the red light, they cannot see as well and will not find little spots on each other.
- A Backup Heat Lamp (you will need a new one quickly in case the first one-stop working).
- Water Jar. The chicks will drink from a chick waterer. Make sure the water is very shallow (half an inch) to avoid drowning the little ones.
- Bedding. This can be torn newspapers or pine shavings. Straws or hay can also work just fine with the little fellas.
- Food. Get the right type of food from your local pet store. Don’t try to mix your own food. Chicks need the right stuff in order to grow and get fully feathered. They need vitamins and energy.
- Enough Space. They need space to move around and try out their new wings. So make sure the space is not too small. Round corners are a great thing as well because otherwise, one or two chicks might eventually choke.
- Patience. Lots of it. You will need to change the water, hay, food, etc. daily so it’s a good project to do with your kids to teach them patience. It’s easier than a puppy because you won’t have to clean up after them all over the house but they still need constant attention. Especially for the first couple of weeks.
It might sound like a lot of work and to some extent it is. But it’s also a GREAT experience to see these cute little yellow creatures grow up.
And it can teach kids a lot about animals.
5 Problems you may experience with Chickens
Why are the chicks being noisy?
Chicks are not that noisy but as they grow bigger you will quickly realize which ones are roosters.
The little chicks will only be noisy if they are getting too cold or too warm, which is a good thing. Other than that you can enjoy the little chicks for the first weeks without much noise. But as they grow bigger the noise also intensifies.
Pay attention to where they sit. If they get clustered around the lamp they are trying to get warmer and if they are placed in the outer ring they are probably too warm. They should spread out evenly.
That being said, you should expect a constant happy stream of chip chip chip chip chip chip 🙂 That’s a good sign. But they should not sound/look desperate.
The rooster can become aggressive
You want to make sure you don’t end up with a rooster inside the city area. It’s can be REALLY noisy and it can also be aggressive.
However, if you want to keep the rooster, here is a tip to help you tame him a bit.
You should never let the little chick’s rooster peck your hand when he is small. He needs to learn early on, that this is not okay. You should take him up and talk to him every time. He also needs to learn that he is not the master, you are. Approach him confidently and don’t back down when he tries a trick or two.
Fully-grown chickens can jump/fly over fences
You need to be able to contain the chickens. They can not run around freely outside your property.
There might also be local regulations regarding the size of your property to ensure that you can keep it from running away.
The thing with chickens is that they can’t really fly well. But they can jump up to 3 meters (8-9 feet) when they use their wings too. So as you can imagine, you will need a very high fence or you might need chicken wire all around them.
That’s why we mentioned (at the beginning of the article) that you will need enough space. You need to be able to dedicate a part of your garden to the chickens once they are fully grown. Otherwise, they will be all over the place and try to escape, and they will probably succeed!
Are your kids going to keep the interest after Easter has passed?
Most families get the idea about a pet chicken around Easter.
You need to talk to your kids seriously about how big their interest might be after Easter has passed. According to Wikipedia, animal shelters (that except chickens) often have a lot of chickens coming in after Easter.
The reason is that people think a lot about chickens when it’s Easter time and in the weeks after the kids often tend to lose interest.
How can watch them during vacation?
The last thing you need to consider here is what to do when you are traveling or going on vacation.
Not everybody can take care of chickens so you might need a good and well-educated friend to help you watch the chickens when you are away.
Make sure your friends have been around the chickens or chicks together with you.
Can I keep Chickens as indoor pets?
When the baby chicks are small they are fairly easy to keep inside. But after a while (6-8 weeks), they will grow rather big and you might want to build a chicken run or coop for it outside. This depends on the climate of your area.
However, there are many stories about people having chickens inside their home.
Normally people take the little baby chicks inside when they are newborn and after a while, they cannot get themselves to take them outside. Other times, a chicken would find its way into the home because it was injured.
So can you keep the chicken as an indoor pet?
Yes, you can. But you probably don’t want to.
Be aware that the chicken can live almost 10 years and at some point, you might want to get it outside. Now the chicken will be used to living in your house and it will probably be hard to keep it outside.
Chickens like to dig around the soil and wander around. But you will also find that most chickens like being stroked and petted if you start early. It can be very friendly and social around people.
Can I teach it NOT to poop everywhere?
Don’t bother trying.
So you only have two-three options. Either you want to clean up poop every hour of the day or you keep it in your bathroom or entrance.
The third option is a little wackier!
You can actually get special diapers for chickens(!). These are made for injured hens and show birds, and can be used indoors to make sure the poop never ends up on the floor.
But they are made of fabric and not disposable, so it takes a lot of work to use these.
When will the chick start laying eggs?
Yep, that’s another thing to consider.
After around 5-6 months the little chicks will be big enough to start laying eggs. Probably not something you want to happen around the house. So unless you are up for a major challenge, and you REALLY love chickens, you will take them outside at this point.
They will typically lay an egg every day but once in a while, it will skip a day due to its reproduction system cycle.
How long do chickens live?
The lifespan of a chicken is 6-10 years.
But often people will eat them long before that. Chickens are great for soups and lots of different dishes.
Which type of Chicken breed is best?
The two breeds: Silkie and Bantam are great breeds for families with kids. But there is a long list of great breeds for homes with kids:
- Plymouth Rock
They should be some of the most friendly types.