Lots of us have pet dogs, cats, birds, fish, and reptiles but have you considered keeping chickens as pets?
If you have, you are not alone.
In the past few years, people keeping chickens as pets has dramatically increased.
Is this a good idea?
Are you capable of providing the necessary care and environment for pet chickens?
Chances are, if you have a backyard, the answer is yes.
Chickens make fantastic pets and provide quite a few benefits in exchange for some proper care.
We’ll go over the 12 benefits of keeping chickens as pets, as well as any questions you may have about getting a flock of your own.
Chickens Lay Eggs
One of the most obvious benefits of keeping chickens as pets is their ability to lay eggs, and lots of them.
Laying hens do not need a rooster to lay eggs and produce eggs throughout their lives.
Many breeds of chickens lay eggs almost daily.
In the winter months or during their molting (or re-feathering) stages, egg production may slow down but quickly pick back up again.
Backyard chickens tend to have more nutritious eggs than those for the store.
Backyard chickens often get more exercise and receive more nutritious diets than factory farm situations.
Store-bought eggs also tend to be quite a few weeks old when you consider shipping and storage.
Collecting farm fresh eggs from your chickens every day seems reason enough for us to keep a few chickens as pets.
So long as you maintain a diverse and nutritious diet to cover all of your chickens’ needs, you should regularly collect high-quality eggs from your backyard flock.
Often, eggs are the driving factor for those looking to keep chickens as pets, but there are so many more benefits to having them around.
Having some weird eggs? Check out our completelist of egg abnormalities and what they mean.
Chickens Help With Gardening Tasks
If you’ve ever been around a flock of chickens, you’ve undoubtedly noticed their constant pecking and scratching at the ground.
Chickens will eat just about anything they can get the beaks on.
This makes them excellent helpers in and around the garden.
Chickens will pull up weeds and mow down grass.
Related: Will chickens ruin my grass and lawn?
Be careful; chickens will also rip up your beloved food crops if able.
If you keep food crops, you’ve likely had to deal with the massive undertaking of clearing the beds at the end of the growing season and tilling the soil.
If you keep chickens as pets, you’ll be able to let them loose in the garden beds.
The chickens will have a fantastic time clearing out all the remains and plant scraps while also tilling the soil with their incessant pecking and scratching.
Another benefit of letting your pet chickens loose in the garden bed after the growing season finishes is the fertilizer from their nitrogen-rich poop.
The chickens will help cut down on the labor you need to do when it comes to weed-pulling, clearing, tilling, and fertilizing your garden beds.
Chickens Are Inexpensive Pets
Some pets get expensive.
Some pets rack up the bills when you factor in food, medicine, flea prevention, grooming, and toys.
Fortunately, chickens will not take a toll on your wallet.
They do not require much to be happy and healthy.
Most of your investment goes into a quality chicken coop, and we highly encourage you not to skimp on this purchase.
A good chicken coop is properly insulated for the colder months but still well ventilated when temperatures rise.
The coop protects the chickens from predators and the elements.
Consider what predators are in your area and how to protect your pet chickens from them with their coop.
Many keepers use chicken wire for added protection.
After the initial investment, the only expenses for your pet chickens are feed and bedding.
If you allow your chickens to forage, it will cut down on the cost of commercial feed.
Make sure your feed is high quality to give your chickens a good baseline of nutrition, then allow them to forage to increase and diversify their nutritional profile.
Bedding should be replaced monthly to promote a clean environment for your hens to lay.
Children Love To Care For Chickens
Another excellent benefit of keeping chickens as pets is its impact on children.
Keeping chickens will teach your children valuable lessons in responsibility and respect for animals.
Make sure your children are old enough to understand and respect your chickens’ boundaries, or they may get pecked or scratched.
Encourage children to be gentle with the chickens and make them a part of regular feedings and cleanings of the coop.
Chances are your child will be very excited about the chickens and eager to collect eggs and feed them.
Chickens Are Low Maintenance Pets
We all love our dogs, but sometimes they are a little high maintenance.
They need regular vet visits, training, walks, and entertainment to stay happy and healthy.
If you are interested in a pet with less maintenance required, chickens may be your best bet.
This is especially great if you like to travel frequently or have a busy lifestyle.
Most chicken feeders only need to be filled once or twice a week, depending on how many chickens are in the coop.
This chicken feeder holds 10 lbs of food.
On average, a chicken consumes around ¼ lb of feed a day.
If you have four pet chickens, you’ll only need to fill this every ten days.
Chickens also clean themselves through dust baths, so no grooming is necessary on your part.
They also rarely need veterinary attention and are quite content to peck and scratch about with their chicken friends.
There are a few things to keep in mind if you want to keep your chickens happy and healthy:
- Ample space to roam. The happiest chickens have about 10′ sq ft per chicken to roam.
- Enough nesting boxes. If you don’t have enough available, your hens will stress and fight to claim a nest box.
- Entertaining food items. Tossing a watermelon, corn cobs, and sunflower heads are nutritious snacks and a lot of fun for the chickens to peck at and tear apart.
- Clean water. Regularly replace and refill water to keep your chickens hydrated. Replacing frequently helps deter bacteria from growing.
Chickens Remove Unwanted Pests And Insects
Chickens love to peck and scratch at the ground, but what exactly are they looking for?
Chickens love to eat plants and roots, but the tastiest treats are the unwanted creepy crawly insects in our yards.
They love to eat beetles, worms, grubs, and larvae.
This is especially great if you have unwanted insects like mosquitoes or ticks.
Chickens find these nuisances delicious and actively seek them out in your yard.
This is a fantastic benefit if you live in a climate with many mosquitoes or ticks.
Both carry diseases capable of harming both ourselves and our furry friends.
Mosquitoes and ticks carry illnesses affecting both dogs and humans.
Letting our pet chickens hunt and eat these pesky bugs is a wonderful benefit for us.
When living in the southeast United States, our backyard chickens and ducks did an excellent job cutting down on the sometimes oppressive populations of mosquitoes.
We also lived in the northeast, where ticks are a big issue.
Chickens do a great job at seeking out these critters and reducing their potential to harm us and our other pets.
They Have Unique And Quirky Personalities
If you are new to chicken keeping, you may not think of them as having big personalities, but they do.
Each bird has their likes and dislikes, and dispositions.
Some tend to be shyer and keep to themselves, while others are vocal and sassy.
When keeping chickens as pets, we recommend handling them frequently from their youth to help grow their trust in humans.
Keeping multiple chickens also helps them blossom and show their unique and quirky personalities.
Some chickens are also very sweet and genuinely love to be pet and held.
These hens will seek you out in the yard when you come outside.
Chickens also love when you talk to them, and you’ll quickly identify the most social ones by chatting about them whenever you go into the coop.
Chickens are vocal by nature and are almost always murmuring and clucking about.
Chicken Poop Makes Excellent Fertilizer
Another excellent benefit of chicken keeping is their poop, believe it or not.
If you are an avid gardener, chickens are a powerful ally in helping your plants thrive.
Their poop is rich in nitrogen and an excellent source of nutrients for the soil and plants.
If you garden or maintain a grassy lawn, you know the importance of nitrogen and fertilizer.
Wouldn’t it be great to have a pet creating nitrogen-rich fertilizer for next to nothing cost-wise?
Look no further than getting a few pet chickens and allowing them to do their thing in your yard.
In many permaculture designs, backyard chicken coops play a vital and active role in supporting the garden.
Permaculture is the gardening approach where you build a natural ecosystem where each factor supports each other to create a thriving garden.
Chickens Help With Composting
We’ve established how beneficial chickens are to your garden.
We have yet to talk about one great benefit, and it is composting.
Composting is a great way to recycle food scraps and turn them into the nutrient-rich matter for your garden.
Depending on your climate, composting may take a long time to break down enough for garden use.
Luckily, if you have pet chickens, they will help aerate and fertilize the compost pile and accelerate the process.
Compost needs to be turned and mixed frequently to promote the process of breaking down the food scraps and releasing the nutrients in a form suitable for your soil and plants to absorb.
Letting your chickens access your compost pile will immensely help the process.
They Love Food Scraps
There is a reason why chickens are such a staple on homesteads and farms.
They help in so many different areas on the farm and require such little maintenance.
Keeping them as pets seems like a no-brainer for those looking to be a bit more sustainable.
Another way chickens help with this role is their love of food scraps.
Chickens are omnivores and able to digest meat as well.
The protein helps them grow healthy but make sure the meat is properly cooked and not rotten.
Chickens will also eat the skins you peel from your vegetables, melons, and fruit reaching a little past their prime, leftover rice and pasta, and so much more, including:
- Herbs like lavender, mint, rosemary, comfrey, and thyme.
- Leafy greens like lettuce, cabbage, kale, and spinach.
- Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower.
- Squash like pumpkins, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, zucchini, and summer squash.
- Melons like cantaloupe, watermelon, and honeydew.
There is not too much your pet chickens can’t eat.
It is important to know what not to feed your chickens, so avoid giving them these items:
- Uncooked rice
- Uncooked beans
- Citrus fruits
- Raw potatoes
You Know Where Your Food Comes From
In this day in age, we all need to be a little conscious of where our food comes from.
Highly processed foods and large-scale farms don’t always supply the most nutritious or healthy forms of food for ourselves and our families.
One of the major benefits of keeping chickens is knowing exactly where your food comes from.
Eggs from factory farms come from overworked chickens in cramped, dirty cages.
They don’t get exercise or their dietary needs met.
While this is a sad reality, keeping chickens as pets lets you know where your food comes from.
It also means you supply your eggs without supporting the often inhumane conditions on factory farms.
Keeping chickens as pets and collecting their eggs means you know exactly what they are eating, the conditions they live in, and how happy they are.
Keeping chickens is an amazing relationship to foster, and you will undoubtedly notice the difference in the quality of the eggs coming from your well-fed and happy flock.
Keeping Chickens Is Accessible To Almost Everyone
While keeping chickens as pets is not extremely common, it is growing in popularity.
You have all you need to keep chickens if you have a yard.
Since they are inexpensive and low maintenance, pet chickens fit most lifestyles and budgets.
If you eat eggs frequently, they may even help you save money.
Eggs are extremely versatile food items, and incorporating them into your diet is easy.
Chickens are also very easy to care for.
Most of the work involves refilling the feeder and cleaning out the bedding.
They are much easier than a puppy or kitten when it comes to constant supervision and training.
Another benefit of chickens is how many places allow you to keep them in your yard.
There are significantly fewer rules and regulations on keeping chickens than larger farm animals like goats, cows, and pigs.
Some towns will limit how many chickens are allowed per property, but it is usually a reasonable number.
Make sure to check with your local HOAs and regulations to make sure you’re legally able to keep chickens as pets.
What Are The Best Chicken Breeds To Keep As Pets?
If you’ve looked into different breeds of chickens, you may be overwhelmed by all the information and different types of chickens.
People raise chickens for many different purposes, including egg production, meat production, and pets.
Related: Top Rooster Name Ideas.
Here are the best chicken breeds to keep as pets:
Silkies are a perfect choice for those looking to keep chickens as pets.
They do not produce many eggs, but they tend to be more affectionate and cuddly than other breeds.
Silkies also tend to be smaller than other chickens making them an excellent option for limited space.
Polish breed chickens are another excellent choice known for their docile nature.
Their unique looks will have your neighbors commenting on your beautiful bird.
Polish chickens are not known for their egg production, but they make great pets like Silkies.
Barred Plymouth Rocks
Barred Plymouth Rocks are prolific egg layers known for their calm inquisitive demeanor.
While they are not as naturally small as other docile breeds, their unique personalities make them great pets.
Proper socialization is required to help Barred Plymouth Rocks trust you and see you as a loved one.
Orpington breed chickens tend to be more interested in being held and petted, making them great pets.
They also lay many eggs, making them a great balance for those looking for pet chickens and farm-fresh eggs.
Cochin breed chickens are excellent choices for those with limited space.
They tend to be smaller than other types of chickens and don’t mind limited space.
For the most part, Cochins are low-maintenance and won’t bother you for much.
You’ll get a great pet chicken from the Cochin breed with proper socialization and regular handling.
Frequently Asked Questions
Knowing the benefits of keeping chickens as pets is a great start, but most people still have questions.
It’s always a good idea to educate yourself before making decisions, especially for pets.
You don’t want to be caught off guard or feel completely lost when you bring a chicken home.
Here are some frequently asked questions from aspiring chicken keepers.
Are Chickens Affectionate?
Some chickens are affectionate, but it depends on a few factors, including breed, socialization, and personality.
One of the most important aspects of having an affectionate chicken as a pet is socialization.
It helps to frequently handle baby chicks from the day you bring them home until they reach maturity.
Chickens rescued from factory farms often lack socialization and fear their owners.
This is often the case with older chickens if they haven’t spent much quality time with humans.
If you want an affectionate pet chicken, we recommend raising them from baby chicks.
Do Chickens Like To Be Petted?
Many socialized backyard chickens love to be petted by their owners.
This is the case when the chickens bond with the humans and trust them completely most of the time.
You won’t have shy or skittish chickens running up to get petted.
Again, human interaction is vital in having affectionate chickens who like to be petted.
Are Chickens Good Indoor Pets?
Chickens, unfortunately, do not make good indoor pets.
They like to get into things which will be a problem in a house.
Even if you’re able to keep chickens out of your things, you’ll still have to deal with their poops.
Chickens tend to defecate indiscriminately and are not trainable for their bowel movements.
Do Pet Chickens Love Their Owners?
It’s difficult to read emotions from chickens, but it gets easier when they are your pet chickens.
You begin to understand their personality, quirks, and vocalizations.
Many chickens become very bonded to their owners and love them, but it takes time and effort to build this type of connection.
Where Do I Get A Pet Chicken?
Are you sold on getting a pet chicken?
You may be wondering where to get your newest addition.
There are a few routes to take when purchasing a chicken.
Many people go to breeders for their chickens.
This is one of the best ways to get the exact breed you want.
Often breeders will sell to hardware and feed stores.
This is the route we have always gone.
Most of the time, they accurately determine the sex of the chicks, which is especially important if you only want hens and no roosters.
If this is not available to you, classified online and in newspapers will sometimes have people selling baby chickens.
Other people like to rescue chickens from factory farms.
This is a wonderful idea and a great way to give these overworked chickens a good life, but they most likely will not make the best pets.
The best pet chickens come from those raised and socialized from a young age.
Related: Is it cruel to keep one chicken?