If you have dreamed of having a pet chicken but do not have a garden, keeping one as an indoor house pet may have crossed your mind. Keeping a chicken indoors is possible, but it is not as easy as keeping a more conventional pet in your home, like a cat or dog.
Raising an indoor pet chicken is challenging, but it can be very rewarding. You get to bond with the chicken in a unique way. However, before bringing backyard chickens into your home, you must understand what keeping a chicken indoors requires. Be prepared for a major commitment!
Can You Keep Chickens Indoors?
Chickens are generally outdoor animals. They love to forage around for food, dustbathe, lie in the sun, and poop wherever their little hearts desire. But what about keeping a chicken indoors? Is it possible? Can you keep a chicken inside?
Considering the growing number of Facebook pages dedicated to indoor pet chickens, keeping pet chickens in your home is clearly not just possible but gaining popularity!
You can keep a pet chicken indoors, but it is far more challenging than keeping more conventional pets like dogs or cats and even other birds, like parakeets and parrots.
When you keep a chicken indoors, you must contend with their poop. Let’s face it – chickens poop a lot – cleaning chicken droppings is probably the greatest challenge with raising a chicken indoors.
Some people believe that keeping chickens indoors is impractical and very unhygienic. But they can make great pets. Keeping an indoor pet chicken can be safe and fun, but only if you manage their waste responsibly.
Cleaning chicken poop off your floors multiple times a day is unpleasant and unfeasible. Therefore, the only other options are to either litter box train the chicken or to make it wear a functional chicken diaper. We’ll look into this below, but both options present serious difficulties.
Some say that keeping chickens indoors is cruel because they prefer being outside, and keeping them inside stops them from engaging in their natural behaviors.
While it’s true that indoor chickens live a very different life to chickens outside, the same can be said for other domestic animals like cats and dogs. Why is it okay to keep them indoors but not a chicken? Chickens are adaptable creatures that can be raised to live indoors, just like other indoor pets.
Factors To Consider Before Bringing A Chicken Into Your Home
If you’re thinking seriously about getting a pet chicken to live inside your home, you must first consider the following factors:
- Allergies. Chickens are not hypoallergenic because they have feathers instead of fur! Chickens produce dander and dust, so you cannot keep them indoors if somebody in your home is allergic.
- Other pets. If you already have dogs or cats, bringing a chicken into your home is not a great idea. The chicken is likely to get stressed and scared, and it is at risk of getting attacked.
- Long-term commitment. Pet chickens have a lifespan of 10 years! If you bring a pet chicken into your home, you are committed to caring for it for a decade. It would be extremely cruel to raise a pet chicken indoors and then banish it to an outside coop after a few years.
- If you’re renting your home, are pets allowed? Many landlords do not allow you to keep pets like dogs and cats. In this case, it is unlikely that the landlord will allow you to keep a pet chicken inside.
- Damage to your home. Does your house have carpeting? Wooden floors? Chickens can be quite destructive. Their natural instincts to scratch and peck at the ground will kick in. Not only will your flooring take a beating, but it can be dangerous to their health if they ingest bits of carpet and other small pieces of litter off the floor
- The welfare of the chicken. Chickens are social animals that have evolved to live in flocks with others of their kind. They do not like being alone. Ideally, one should get two indoor chickens, which means double the poop inside your house. If you work away from home and are gone for most of the day, keeping a pet chicken alone inside your house would be cruel.
- Hens are better than roosters. Hens are generally easier to keep than roosters. They have a calmer temperament and will not crow in the morning. Be sure to get a hen as an indoor chicken, not a rooster!
Pros And Cons Of Keeping Chickens Indoors
To help you decide if keeping an indoor pet chicken is something you really want to do, let’s examine the pros and cons:
- Get fresh eggs almost every day.
- You can enjoy a bit of farm life in the city, even if you do not have a garden.
- It’s easier to monitor for potential health issues when they live indoors with you.
- Chickens are very entertaining to watch.
- You’ll bond with your pet chicken on a deeper level than if they live outside.
- Chickens make sweet, loving companions and enjoy cuddling.
- Chickens can make great therapy animals.
- Keeping chickens inside is fun for kids and will teach them about agriculture and where food comes from.
Cons Of Keeping a Chicken Inside
- Dealing with chicken poop, and lots of it.
- Decreased egg production
- It makes it more difficult to have other pets.
- Chickens require constant supervision.
- Chickens can carry dangerous diseases, like salmonella and E.coli. Even healthy chickens can carry Salmonella germs and these bacteria can infect young children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems causing illness and even death.
- Training a chicken takes an enormous amount of time and dedication.
- Indoor chickens still require a coop, and this may not suit the aesthetics of your home décor.
- Chickens produce dust and dander.
- Chickens can damage the flooring in your home. It can be difficult to provide some of their basic needs like dust baths
It seems that when it comes to keeping chickens in the house, there are just as many benefits as there are drawbacks. Keeping a pet house chicken may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but if you have your heart set on the idea and you are ready for the commitment, it is certainly possible!
Potential Negative implications of Keeping Hens Inside
Your hens are likely to be unhappy when not in their natural environment. Living indoors is vastly different to living outside.
Laying and egg production will significantly reduce due to stress and reduced hours of sunlight
Hens may become more aggressive as they won’t be in that free range environment
The mess will be enormous, resulting in more of your time being spent cleaning and maintaining a decent level of hygiene
The hens may lose significant weight or develop illnesses
Can A Chicken Be House Trained?
Because chickens are “food animals,” there is a widespread belief that they are “bird-brained” exists. Chickens are surprisingly intelligent animals, and people have been training them to perform various tricks and behaviors for a very long time.
Chickens can certainly be house trained via operant conditioning. Through a process of positive reinforcement, they will learn that certain behaviors elicit rewards in the form of food. Clicker training has also proven to be a successful method of training chickens.
If you are used to training dogs, house training a chicken will feel significantly more difficult. However, if you stay dedicated to the process and consistently reinforce good behaviors, you will see results!
How To Care For An Indoor Pet Chicken
Caring for a pet house chicken is a full-time job! From the moment you bring your new feathered friend into your home, you will have to begin caring for them.
Let’s look at what caring for an indoor pet chicken involves:
Start with Day Old-Chicks
Start with baby chicks and have more than one. As a chicken owner, you should already know that chickens are flock animals that are highly social and form strong bonds. It is best to have day-old chicks if you plan on having indoor chickens. Make sure to have a heat lamp to keep baby poultry warm.
Consider the Breed
Chicken breeds that are best suited to life indoors are the Silkie chicken and small Bantams or Rhode Island Reds. Silkies are the best option due to their being little birds and their docile nature.
Indoor Chicken Coop
It definitely is not a good idea to let a pet chicken have free rein inside your home! Most people who keep chickens indoors restrict their movement around the house.
Chickens should only be allowed access to the living quarters. They should not be allowed to roam around bedrooms or near areas where food is prepared and stored to prevent contamination with harmful germs and the potential spread of disease.
It is important to always supervise chickens inside your home! Until you are 110% confident that they are house trained, you should not allow them to roam around on their own.
You will need to get an indoor coop or roomy cage for your chicken as a place where they can stay unsupervised. At night the chicken should sleep in the coop, and when you leave the house, the chicken can stay there.
You could modify a bird cage or rabbit hutch or build your own indoor chicken coop. The coop must be large enough to allow the chicken to move around, eat, and sleep. Add straw or sawdust bedding to the coop.
Clean Water And Food
Chickens, like all household pets, need a constant supply of clean drinking water. Buy a gravity-fed chicken drinker so that you do not need to put out a new dish of fresh water every day. Clean their drinker on a weekly basis.
Chickens should be fed a balanced and complete pelleted feed. Buy high-quality chicken feed to ensure that your chicken gets the best nutrition possible.
Provide about 100 to 150g of feed daily. Do not free-feed because indoor chickens are prone to obesity!
Supplement your pet chicken’s diet with apple cider vinegar, fresh leafy greens, and probiotics. This will help them maintain a healthy digestive tract and immune system.
Good Hygiene Practices
Cleaning your chicken’s coop, waterer, and feeder on a regular basis is important for several reasons:
· If you do not clean your chicken’s living quarters often enough, the build-up of feces will cause bacteria (such as salmonella germs) and diseases to develop. This can be a dangerous health risk to you and your family members.
· A chicken coop can get smelly very quickly. Regularly cleaning it will ensure that the coop does not stink up your home.
· If the coop is dirty, your indoor pet chickens will track dirt all over your home.
· If you do not keep the coop clean, the eggs you collect will be covered in poop.
Clean out the chicken coop at least once a week, making sure to remove all soiled and wet bedding material.
Indoor Pet Chickens Need Time Outdoors
Chickens should not be kept indoors all of the time! To keep them in good health and happy, you should make sure to give your pet house chicken some outdoor time every day.
Sunlight is critical for chickens’ egg production, and they need to get a chance to enjoy natural behaviors like foraging, scratching, and dust bathing in an outdoor area.
Allow your chicken to roam around your garden while you supervise them. If you do not have a backyard, you can take your chicken to a quiet outdoor space and walk them on a leash.
Yes, leash training chickens is a thing. You need to get a harness specially designed for chickens and train them to tolerate wearing it.
How To Deal With Chicken Poop Indoors
There are three different strategies for dealing with chicken pooping inside your home. All of them have their drawbacks. You need to choose a system that works for you and your family.
The options are:
- Clean up chicken poop as soon as it’s produced
- Litterbox train the chicken
- Use functional chicken diapers
Diligently Clean The Poop As It Happens
Chickens poop upwards of five times a day. That’s a lot of poop to clean! You will have to constantly supervise your pet chicken so that you can clean the poop off the floor as soon as it is produced.
Litterbox Training Chickens
Chickens can be trained to use a litterbox using positive reinforcement, just like a dog. It will take time, patience, and commitment, but it is certainly possible.
Getting your chicken to use a litterbox is far better than having them poop all over your home. Start by giving them food rewards and then move on to clicker training.
When training a chicken, you must never punish it! Do not kick, swat, yell, squeeze or hurt the chicken in any way. This is not only cruel, but it will make the chicken fear you, which makes training far more difficult. Accept that there will be accidents along the way!
Yes, chicken diapers are a thing, and you can buy them online. They do interfere with egg-laying. You will find a poopy egg in their diaper each time they lay. To prevent this, you should learn what time of day your hen lays and remove the diaper around that time.
I hope I have answered your question “Can you keep chickens indoors”. Keeping a pet chicken indoors is hard work, but it can be very rewarding to build such a special connection with a chicken. It certainly is not for everyone, and before bringing one home, one should carefully consider whether keeping a chicken in your home is right for you and your family.
David Cameron is a passionate chicken enthusiast. Growing up, he always wanted to be a veterinarian and loved animals. After graduating from veterinary school, David spent over 40 years as an equine veterinarian. He and his wife retired a few years ago and moved to North Carolina. Here, David’s love of chickens grew even more – he now has 7 chickens and 6 quail. If you have any questions about chickens, feel free to reach out.