If you’ve been considering investing in some chickens but have been put off because you think that birds can’t make good pets – we’d beg to differ. In fact, chickens can make absolutely brilliant pets and we’ve thought of at least 22 superb reasons why this is true. Check it out.
The 22 reasons chickens make amazing pets are that they’re low cost, they’re environmentally friendly, they make you laugh, they reduce stress, they help teach kids about life, they’re friendly, they’re unique, fresh eggs, they can be litter trained, they don’t bring you presents, they offer companionship, chicks are amazing, they give you cool stories, they make fertilizer, they eat bugs, you can keep them in almost any backyard, they get on with other pets, they cuddle, they’re easy to keep, they’re reasonably clean, they acts as an alarm clock and they can learn tricks.
The 22 Benefits Of Chickens As Pets
They’re Low Cost
Chickens aren’t free. You have to buy the chickens (at least before they have chicks). You have to feed them, water them, get the vet in occasionally, give them somewhere to sleep, etc. but you have to do these things for pretty much every pet.
Yet, you can feed a chicken for about $6 a month. It can have fresh bedding throughout a month for about $4 a month. A feeder is about $5. A waterer comes in at another $5. You might have to build a coop but once it’s built, you shouldn’t need to build another.
The chickens themselves are pretty cheap too. You can buy a chick for around $5 and adults, depending on breed, age, condition, etc., go from $1 – $40.
It is worth noting that there are some ultra-specialist breeds which can cost a small fortune to buy. The world’s most expensive breed is the Ayam Cemani from Indonesia. They can cost $4,000 per chicken!
But you don’t need an amazing black chicken if you want eggs and pets – you need a common old chicken of pretty much any breed. We think you could buy 4 layers and a rooster for about $50 all in. That’s enough.
They’re Very Environmentally Friendly
Not every chicken owner recommends that your chickens eat scraps but it’s fair to say that your average chicken is not exactly a fussy eater. In our experience, they’ll munch on anything that’s about the right size for them to swallow and digest.
We’ve seen them gorge on bread, pasta, fruit peel, vegetable skins, grass trimmings, and much more. Given that everyone who wants to do their bit for the planet is trying to cut down on waste, there are worse things that you can do than feed scraps to your chickens.
However, please make sure that what you feed them isn’t going to damage them. (Just Google it when you have something you want to share with your chickens).
And yes, chickens are not averse to a bit of cannibalism, so, in theory you can even feed them chicken from your table scraps but we don’t know that that’s a good idea in the long run – mad cow disease came about from feeding cows to cows, you probably don’t want mad chickens (or madder chickens, chickens are a bit bonkers at the best of times).
They Will Make You Laugh
There’s something about chickens that makes them natural comedians. We think it’s probably because they’re not exactly rocket scientists and are hugely prone to displays of the melodramatic.
They like to tussle with each other, they like to play with toys, they’ll bounce across the back yard trying to catch grasshoppers, they sneak off to cuddle each other, in short they have real personality and we feel that you’d need a heart of stone to resist laughing at your chickens at some point or another.
And by way of proof, we offer this video from YouTube entitled the funny chickens (you will die laughing) – it’s 15 minutes of super chicken-based laugh material.
We’re also big fans of the funny chicken compilation from funny pets.
They’ll Help You Reduce Your Stress
There’s a funny side benefit of raising chickens. Despite all the clucking, the drama, etc. chickens help reduce the stress levels of their owners.
How does this come about? Well, keeping chickens seems to release oxytocin in the human body. Oxytocin is a chemical that your body produces in order to reduce stress. The production of oxytocin has been linked to both lowering blood pressure as well as the feelings of loneliness that many people experience in modern life.
Clea Danaan claims in her book Zen and the Art of Raising Chickens: The Way of the Hen that just keeping an eye on chickens can help you improve your mindfulness and thus, reduce stress.
They’re Great For Teaching Kids About Life
If you’re looking to raise kids that are better in touch with their environment, then keeping chickens can help your children learn about the cycle of life. We’ve never met a child who didn’t enjoy the thrill of going out to collect eggs and this is the perfect time to talk about the connection between animals and what we eat.
When you involve children in the care of your chickens, they learn valuable skills and responsibility for something else. This can translate into higher levels of emotional maturity later in life.
You’ll need to teach your kids about hygiene when they’re around chickens too – learning to wash your hands properly and not to rub chickens around your eyes are also valuable lessons for later life.
They’re Quite Friendly
All chickens can be friendly but it’s probably worth picking a breed that has a good reputation for being low maintenance, good layers and with pleasant natures from the start if you want to develop a great relationship with your chickens.
For us that means you want to get some Silkies as your first choice though the Speckled Sussex and Rhode Island Red can be pretty awesome too. These tend to be very affectionate breeds and very easy for children to make friends with too because they’re a bit more tolerant of people than other breeds might be.
They’re All Unique
While we’re on the topic of friendliness, it’s important to note that your chickens are likely to be very individual. That means even birds from the same flock and breed are going to have very different personalities.
As you feed them, you will get to know your chickens and even when they look similar, you’ll be able to tell them apart instantly by the way that they behave towards you and your family. We think this makes it much easier for you to bond with your chickens.
You Can’t Beat Fresh Eggs
The best reason to own chickens of all is that you can get eggs. Chicken eggs are incredibly tasty and Healthline says that they offer 10 (yes, 10!) health benefits that can ought to persuade everyone to own some pet chickens:
- Hugely nutritious. Large amounts of vitamins and minerals. Just 77 calories and high in protein and health fats.
- High cholesterol? Yes, they’re high in cholesterol but for some reason the cholesterol in chicken eggs does not raise your blood cholesterol (for most people).
- They raise HDL cholesterol. Hang on? What’s this? It’s not trickery. HDL is the “good” cholesterol, you want high levels of HDL because it reduces the chance of heart attacks, strokes, etc.
- They’ve got choline. Most people don’t know they need choline, but everyone does and the symptoms of choline deficiency are awful but fortunately, if you eat eggs this won’t happen to you.
- They reduce the risk of heart disease. Eggs have the power to change bad LDL cholesterol into less harmful LDL cholesterol molecules in your blood stream.
- They’re rich in antioxidants. In fact, lutein and zeaxanthin to be precise, these antioxidants are good for your eyes.
- They can be rich in Omega-3s. If you feed them grains rich in Omega-3 or they’re free range then eggs are full of Omega-3 which helps reduce unhealthy blood triglycerides by nearly 20%!
- Super protein. The proteins in eggs are exactly what our bodies need to build muscle and tissue. They contain the perfect balance of amino acids for humans too.
- Might reduce the risk of stroke. Many studies have shown a slight reduction in the risk of having a stroke if you eat plenty of eggs.
- Help keep you full (and thus, lose weight). High protein foods make us feel full and if you feel full, you don’t snack on unhealthy gunk and can lose weight.
They Can Be Litter Trained
We want to stress that we don’t recommend turning chickens into house pets. We think they’re happiest and most productive when they’re free to run around in the great outdoors but we understand that you might want to bring an older, weaker bird into the house or perhaps a chicken that’s been shunned by the rest of the flock.
If that’s the case, you can house train a chicken. It’s not the easiest job and you’ll need our guide to teaching a chicken to use a litter tray, but it can be done. Just expect it to be a slow, patient process.
They Don’t Leave Surprise Animal Corpses Laying Around
Anyone who has ever owned a cat will tell you that one of the unpleasant moments that comes from keeping a feline chum is that moment where you stand in a pile of mouse guts from the little filleted tribute that your cat has decided to leave its master. We appreciate the sentiment but really wish they wouldn’t all the same.
Chickens don’t do this. In fact, it’s possible that your chicken might eat a mouse you can see our article here to find out whether this is healthy for them but they won’t disembowel one and then leave parts of it all over your living room. For that, we’re truly grateful.
They Can Provide Companionship
One of the biggest problems in today’s world is loneliness. People find themselves increasingly disconnected from each other and the wider world even though in an age of social media, it feels like this ought to be much easier than it is.
Chickens can provide companionship and it’s really important. Loneliness has been proven to have a range of negative health impacts: it can make us anxious, it can make us depressed, it can increase our stress levels, it can increase blood pressure, it makes us more likely to become obese, it weakens the immune system, it can hasten cognitive decline and it may even directly cause death.
You don’t want that to happen, do you? We don’t want it to happen to you either. So, if you’re feeling a bit alone in this world, think about getting some chickens – they won’t just bring joy, they just might save your life.
Chicks Are The Most Awesome Thing
While adult chickens may be something of an acquired taste, there’s nothing on earth guaranteed to melt a human heart faster (in a good way) than to handle a chick. These tiny little balls of fluff and fun are simply awesome and it’s impossible not to feel better about life with a chick in the palm of your hand.
You need to be careful when handling chicks, mind you, they’re very delicate and if you’re not gentle with them, you can give them a serious injury but it’s fair to say that other than that – a chick is simply the universe’s greatest gift. If you’re in any doubt about this, pop down to a chicken breeder right now and see how you feel after you’ve held one.
They Make For Great Stories
Have you ever noticed that people with pets tend to end up telling stories about their pets? Well, chickens are no different, once you’ve had chickens for a little while – you’ll find that your conversation is full of interesting tidbits about chickens and fortunately for the people listening to you – chickens are more interesting that human babies in stories (because everyone’s had interaction with babies but very few have had interactions with chickens).
It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to dine out or drink for free on stories of chickens, but you’ll certainly be able to develop a little roster of top notch anecdotes which are perfect for any humdrum occasion.
And, of course, chickens have inspired many a yolk, sorry joke, over the years too, including our favorite: “Why does a chicken coop only have two doors?”
“Because if had four doors, it would be a chicken sedan!”
Their Poop Makes For Amazing Fertilizer
Chicken poop is really rich in nitrogen which is a good thing for your garden because plants love nitrogen. However, it’s important to remember that chicken poop is, perhaps, too rich in nitrogen in its natural state – you can just dump pounds of chicken poop on your begonias, that will kill your begonias and leave you with a garden full of poop.
What you need to do with chicken poop to reap the rewards of all that nitrogen is compost it. We recommend using a hot composting technique which ensures that no bacteria or germs remain in the poop by the time that you ladle it out over your vegetable patch or rose bed.
This can be a huge boon from keeping chickens and it’s a big eco-benefit too. Chickens can help recycle your scraps, so you can grow crops, to make more scraps. That’s the way that nature intended us all to live, in harmony with the planet.
They Eat Bugs
Chickens are the ultimate in day-time pest control. Insects are full of protein and like all animals, chickens need as much protein as they can get to ensure muscle development and to be in tip-top laying condition. That means they’re happy to gobble down anything from spiders to grasshoppers and if you let them wander your backyard – you won’t need any insecticide to keep your plants healthy and happy.
However, there is a dark side to the relationship between chickens and insects. At night, the tables are turned. Chickens aren’t very active at night and they can’t see well and when they roost – chickens can become snacks for flies, gnats and mosquitoes.
You don’t need to allow this to happen, mind you, you can ensure that your garden gets the benefits of chicken pest control without the chickens getting chomped on by insects, just make some simple screens and hang them over the windows and doors of your chicken coop. This will keep insect numbers to manageable and ensure that your chickens are happy and healthy.
They Can Be Kept In Almost Any Backyard
There’s a guy in Singapore that recommends keeping chickens in apartment blocks! Now, we wouldn’t go that far but we’d be happy to confirm that you don’t need a huge amount of space to raise chickens in.
The chicken coop will take up very little space as will the nesting boxes. (About 3 feet x 1 feet per chicken for a coop and 1 x 1 for the nesting boxes). Then each chicken needs about 15 square feet of yard to call their own. Somebody with a small backyard of just 10 x 10 feet can normally keep 5 or 6 chickens without a problem.
We think this is a huge benefit of chickens and it ought to encourage more people to keep them as pets. When you realize that you don’t need massive amounts of spaces, you can start thinking about saving money by having fresh eggs all the time and a healthier diet in general.
They Get On With Other Pets
If you have cats or dogs, then the good news is that it’s quite easy to train your existing animals to accept chickens as their new chums. It does take a little time to get them used to each other, mind you and it’s a process which requires some effort on your part to ensure it goes smoothly.
Check out this cat playing with her chickens:
However, it’s worth noting that established cats and dogs are best kept away from chicks which are simply too fragile to handle any kind of rough and tumble. That’s not to say that your other pets will want to hurt your chicks (we don’t think that they will) but that they might do so by accident and that would make everyone (especially the chicks) unhappy.
You can raise chicks alongside puppies or kittens though and animals raised together can generally be trusted around the young of the other animal. They already know the limits of chicks and won’t harm them. So, if it’s important to you that everything in your home gets along perfectly, the secret is to bring them all together as babies.
This puppy and these chicks are absolutely adorable together:
They Enjoy Being Cuddled
OK, we might be anthropomorphizing a little here because chickens aren’t people and it’s impossible to tell precisely what a chicken is thinking and feeling, so we tend to assume that they’re on the same wavelengths as the people around them even if they, perhaps, aren’t.
But over time, chickens can seem to really appreciate being given a cuddle. You need to pick them up carefully to do this and gently stroke them in line with their feathers, but this does look like it makes a chicken happy.
It’s certainly going to help you as a chicken owner feel happy. Cuddles are a great way of releasing that de-stress hormone of oxytocin.
And just in case, you think we’re joking, here’s a video of a lady with her chicken which absolutely loves cuddles!
They Are Relatively Low Maintenance
There is no such thing as a zero maintenance pet and if you want your chickens to thrive and for you to get the most out of owning chickens, you will have to put in some work.
They need feeding and their feed should be changed daily (to prevent infestation and rodents from contaminating it). They need watering and their water should be the right temperature too. They also need their coop cleaning and their bedding replacing on a regular basis.
However, if you do these things as they need doing – they’re not a huge amount of effort and caring for chickens shouldn’t end up taking up all your time. Compared to say a dog, chickens don’t need to be taken on walks or have your attention nearly 24 hours a day, they’re a low maintenance pet in that respect.
They’re Reasonably Clean
Chickens rather like cats are self-cleaning animals. You don’t need to bath a chicken unless something unfortunate happens (like it gets sprayed by a skunk or you accidentally drop a paint pot on it). They’re only too happy to give themselves a dust bath.
A dust bath is exactly what it sounds like – the chicken rolls around in the dust and dirt of the yard or in a special dust bath you’ve prepared for it. The dust gets rid of any insects on their skin and helps de-oil the chickens feathers and plumage. It’s very healthy.
It may not look like a bath, but it absolutely keeps a chicken clean and healthy.
They Act As An Amazing Alarm Clock
Rooster’s circadian rhythms mean that just before dawn they start to crow. It’s a signal to the hens to wake up, it’s supposed to scare off any predators that might be chancing their luck around the coop and it’s a great way to be reminded to get out of bed and start the working day.
In short, a rooster is a perfect natural alarm clock.
Of course, if you’re a late riser this may not be to your taste and there’s no easy way to silence a rooster.
They Can Be Trained To Do Tricks
We’ve probably mentioned this before but chickens are never going to vie with the likes of Einstein in the brains department but that doesn’t mean they’re completely stupid either.
It takes time, patience and some fairly simply tricks but you can teach chickens to perform certain actions on cue. Some chicken owners argue that they’re almost as good as dogs in this respect.
We’ll let you make the call. Check out this Spanish chicken’s incredible gifts:
We hope that our 22 reasons chickens make amazing pets has helped you to see that owning chickens has plenty of upside and that you won’t be sorry if you decide to get a coop and start having super yummy fresh eggs for breakfast every day.
Children can learn a lot from chickens, and they can really enjoy their company too, so why not get some chickens as pets for your family, today?
Here are some of my favorite products for chickens and their coops: