Your Chicken Questions Answered by a Veterinarian. Honest and Practical Advice

Is keeping chickens cruel or unethical?

The short answer to this question is no, if you’re doing everything correctly there’s no reason why the environment you provide shouldn’t be perfect for your hens to absolutely thrive in. At the end of the day, your providing them with a secure home which is not unethical by any means, if they’re getting their basic requirements your absolutely fine! However, the issue starts to become more serious when hens are neglected and left for extended periods of time without being cleaned or properly maintained. Although this is rare, it does still happen, hence why we’ve decided to write this article to inform fellow hen lovers of what does sometimes unfortunately happen and why. In this article, we’ll be going through the basics of what your hens need, situations that may be cruel to chickens, and ways to ensure hens are kept in the best environment possible. If any of that sounds interesting then stick around for a few minutes and continue reading.

What your hens need

To ensure your hens are kept in the best possible environment there are a few requirements that have to be met. Let’s start with some of the most obvious and important such as food, and water. Without a doubt giving your hens a fresh refill of water every few days is essential, this along with a few handfuls of chicken pellets or feed depending on how many birds you have is another requirement. It’s really that simple, feeds can range in price and ingredients so if you would like to know more about what different feeds have to offer then feel free to check out our article on what should I feed my chickens. To cut a long story short your hens will be happy and chirpy as long as they get some fresh food and drink.

The next essential your hens will need is a safe place to sleep during the night, this is usually known as a chicken coop. Like with everything these days there’s plenty of different options you can consider when picking one up. Building your own also may be worth thinking about if you’ve got some DIY skills. However it all comes down to one factor, your hens need to be protected throughout the night and feel safe and secure. Ensuring you do all this will result in you getting the most out of your hens in terms of eggs production and interaction. If you’d to know more about coops in general then check out our coops page.

Situations that may be cruel to chicken

There some things which may seem harmless at first but are in fact quite dangerous for your hens, in this section of the article we’ll be going through the most common situations that are often overlooked. The main three we’ll be talking about are; not locking up your coop for the night, a cramped coop, and an incorrect garden/backyard environment.

The simple fact is, if your hens are not locked up in a safe and secure coop/enclosure for the night, there’s defiantly a risk of predictory animals getting in. Depending on where you live the animals in your surrounding will be more or less dangerous however it’s always best to be on the safe side. Not to mention there are other benefits of locking up your hens for the night, the hens develop a good routine which aids in consistent laying.

However, the hens will also feel uneasy if they feel the presence of a small fox or even cat within the ensure, this will result in an increase in stress which can lead to squabbling within the coop as well as a decrease in egg production.

Another factor that may be perceived as being cruel to your hens is having an overcrowded coop. Chickens need a certain amount of space to thrive in, when this space is taken away you instantly risking the chances of bullying, fewer eggs, and even decease. It’s recommended that chickens must have a minimum of 1 bird needs 4 square feet of space, just to clarify this does not mean your hens are free-range, however, if you’d like to know more about how and why chickens need a certain amount of space then feel free to check out another one of our articles on how much space do chickens need

The surrounding environment is something else to consider when keeping hens. If your garden or back yard has lots of openings where the hens could potentially escape from then fixing this issue before they arrive is well worth doing. The risk of your hens getting into other garden or roads will result in possibly devastating outcomes, not only can it be very difficult to get them back once they’ve escaped, but it’s also very dangerous. If you do notice your fence has some openings then we’d defiantly recommend fixing or barricading them. If you decide you don’t want to let your hens out of their run then that’s also completely understandable, however, having a secure surrounding environment will also make it harder for predictors and rodents to enter the garden.

Keeping your hens in the best possible environment

Even though hens are fairly simple and easy to look after pets, providing them with some sort of extra entertainment can be a great way of keeping the flock happy. If you’ve kept hens in the past you’ll know they sometimes start pecking at each other and in some cases, this can result in a particular hen being injured and losing lots of feathers.

A way to ensure this doesn’t happen is by giving your hens something to do, this can be anything from a ball of hay to a rotting log. This gives the birds hours of entertainment, you’ll notice they’ll be scratching and foraging through the log for hours hopefully resulting in a decreased level of squabbling within the flock.

In all honesty giving your hens something to do will only improve their living environment, in our opinion, it’s defiantly worth doing. If you’d like to know more about keeping your hens entertained then check out one of our other articles on how to keep chickens entertained.


Keeping chickens is defiantly not cruel or unethical, if you’re doing the basics right there’s no reason the birds won’t thrive in the environment you provide. It’s really not that hard to do.

So there you have it, a quick insight into whether or not it’s cruel to keep hens, if you found this article useful then feel free to check out some of our others

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