Although a chicken might not be the first animal that comes to mind when you think of a pet, they are actually really entertaining and fun animals to keep. Normally people associate chickens with farms but the more time you spend around them, you’ll realize how funny their quirky little personalities can be.
We’ve been keeping chickens since we were children and although we weren’t initially enthusiastic about the idea of keeping chickens, we came to love them in the end. Chickens can be great pets like a dog or a cat and from some aspects, they are even better! Here are our top reasons why chickens make awesome pets:
The variety in breeds
I think a lot of people have the wrong idea about chickens because the breed of chickens heavily influences their personality. Some chickens are prolific layers but they are shy and wary of humans, these are chickens that you would typically find on a farm. However, some chickens like the Silkie and Brahma are chickens that have nowhere near the level of egg production but they are incredibly friendly around humans. Also, there are lots of multipurpose hens so whatever you’re requirements, there’s probably a chicken for the job.
If you’d like to learn more about chicken breeds which make good pets, check out our article Best chicken breeds to keep as pets.
This is one of the biggest advantages of keeping your own chickens, you get plenty of delicious fresh eggs every morning. They are incomparable to supermarket eggs, trust us once you’ve tried eggs from your own hens you’ll never want to go back!
The eggs that your own free-range hens produce tend to have a much deeper orange coloured yolk and a creamier, silkier white. As well as this, the depth of flavour is far superior since the chickens rummage for food and have a natural, well-balance diet. Free-range eggs are also better for you can you can eat more of them because they have lower cholesterol levels than the eggs you usually find in supermarkets.
Another thing we noticed about eggs from our own hens was that we’d get double yolks much more often, although it may just be our flock!
They are easy to keep
Like with any pet, chickens do require some attention and care but they are fairly independent animals and don’t require human company, however, it is crucial that they aren’t kept alone. Chickens need to have contact with other chickens in order to maintain and healthy social structure which is important for their well-being.
But in terms of entertainment, chickens need very little. They don’t need to be played with or walked as with a dog or a cat, but if you give them time, they will start to enjoy human company. There are tasks that need to be done on a regular basis when keeping chickens, like filling up their food and water dispensers but these jobs usually only take a few minutes each day. For an in-depth guide into the tasks required when raising chickens, check out our article Are chickens easy to keep.
They can be cost-effective
There are a lot of variables with this point, such as the price of the chickens, the cost of food, their coop etc. So, there is no reasonable way of calculating whether keeping chickens will actually be cost effective or not due to the vast number of intangible factors.
However, there is a substantial difference between the cost of one your own eggs compared to buying one. An organic egg will typically cost you around 37 pence and an egg from your own chickens will usually cost around 18 pence, not taking into consideration the fact that eggs your chickens produce will likely be of higher quality than anything you can get from a shop.
Chickens aren’t thought to be exciting, intellectual animals but they are smarter than they look and some of them can have really adorable personalities.
They won’t all act and behave the same either, some will be inquisitive and rummage around the garden in search of food while others, like the Cochin, will plod around the run slowly and will rarely search for food.
Breeds such as the Silkie, Brahma, and Cochin tend to become friendly around humans and once they’ve spent enough time around you, they’ll love to be cuddled and petted. However, as we mentioned before, the personality of the chicken is highly dependent on the breed, a standard hybrid chicken won’t make the best pet but it will be a prolific layer, whereas a Silkie will hardly lay any eggs but will adore being fussed over.
Good for the garden
Chickens are also great providers of free-fertilizer and can make your garden flourish. We let our hens out for half an hour each day which is enough time for them to have an effect on the plants but not enough for them to ruin the garden!
They also love eating grass and will keep your lawn trimmed nicely, however, they do not need to be on grass constantly as they’d just churn in up, and within a few weeks, it would become very messy. If you want to learn more about this, check out our article Do chickens need to be on grass.
Finally, chickens also provide a great feature for your garden, they become the center of attention and bring lots of life and character.
Another great bonus of keeping chickens is that they provide free and very effective pest control, if you have bugs and insects eating away at your vegetables, the chickens will eat them. They are omnivores and will eat both meat and vegetables, so they’ll eat pretty much anything they can get their beaks into.
We’ve kept chickens since we were kids and they really do make a great family friendly pet. Most breeds are calm, docile and like to be petted which is perfect for children.
Of course, as with any animal, they need space and lots of people near them at once may be slightly overwhelming for them but chickens get used to human company quickly and within a few weeks of your flock moving in, they should settle down and become comfortable in your presence.
The last reason is that chickens minimize waste, table scraps, and leftovers that would usually be thrown away can often be fed to chickens, there a few foods like avocado which chickens need to avoid but they’ll eat most things.
However, leftovers are not an alternative to chicken feed which should be their staple. Feeding hens leftovers is a great way to reduce waste but they don’t contain the nutrients required to keep the chickens healthy and laying properly.
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.