Chickens roaming around in the house, you say! Impossible!
But it’s very possible. In fact chickens make fine indoor pets for your children. They take up little room, they cost only “chicken feed” to maintain and they provide endless hours of entertainment for your kids and their friends. You can even choose a bantum or small breed, about a quarter to half the size of a standard chicken, to save space.
There are a few simple requirements for keeping pet chickens successfully.
Obviously, chickens can’t be housebroken. Many fond chicken owners say that any mess the chicken makes is easily cleaned up and they don’t mind. You can keep your home really pristine by putting your indoor chickens into diapers. This is not as bizarre as it seems. Practical, attractive diapers for chickens are available via the Internet. Chicken get used to wearing them quickly. Search for “chicken diapers” and you will find suppliers. You can also keep your chicken confined to certain areas of the house where you don’t mind doing a little wiping up. Children can be given this responsibility.
2.) Protection from other pets.
Your dog may want to chase your chickens so you will have to train it to leave the birds alone. Do this by keeping your dog on a leash and reprimanding it sharply each time it shows aggression toward the chickens until you feel you can rely on it to share space peacefully. Cats will generally leave adult chickens alone but can’t be trusted around baby chicks. On the other hand, chickens will bravely peck any pushy pet on it’s sensitive nose and will even gang up if necessary. After a few painful beak jabs, even a large dog or cat will steer clear.
3.) Safe shelter at night.
Never leave your chickens outdoors in the yard after dark. They must either have a safe coop or stay in the house. Otherwise predators such as raccoon, foxes, weasels, skunks, cats, etc. will soon make off with them. A roomy cage inside the house will keep your chickens out of trouble when you are not around. A pet carrier will do fine for a chicken to sleep in at night.
4.) Keep only hens.
Roosters, though very handsome, are noisy, territorial and will keep trying to mate with the hens. Roosters really do get up with the sun and, when they do, they crow at the top of their lungs to declare they own your house. A rooster is not likely to be happy indoors.
5.) Raise your pet chicken from a chick.
Your chick will be socialized from the start and be easily handled. It will follow your children about and sit in their laps. It only takes a few weeks for the chick to become a full sized chicken so the time goes fast.
6.) Your kids can train their pet chickens.
Chickens can be trained to do simple tricks, like come when called or peck at a given target. All it takes is a little patience and lots of food treats. Kids love thinking up new tricks and teaching their chickens to perform. Only kindness and food rewards work, never anger or punishment.
So if you don’t want to take on a dog or a cat, but want a low-cost, easy-to-keep pet that will interact with your children, then pet chickens might just be right for your family.
Copyright Maggie Kerr 2009