What is a Pet Chicken?
Many people refer to their chickens as pets, or they refer to their favorite chicken as their pet chicken. The word, pet, is a term of endearment and emotional attachment. Pets are parts of human families. Dogs and cats and parrots along with many other animals are accepted easily as being pets, but can chickens be pets?
Well, why not? Many chickens are personable and interact openly and clearly with their human caretakers. Chickens like being scratched and can interact in very affectionate ways. Certain breeds of chickens have more of a tendency to act like pets… The brown egg layer chickens (or chickens that lay brown eggs) seem to be calmer, less shy, and more confident in their interactions with people. They seem to be interested in what people are doing. Brown egg laying breeds like Orpingtons, Brahmas, and Cochins are favorite breeds for pet chickens, and are big and very fluffy, so they are particularly fun to cuddle with.
The breeds of chicken that lay white eggs can be a bit nervous and flighty around people, so they may not be an optimal choice as a pet. They are also beautiful birds, and with patience, they too can learn to be quite friendly. I have a couple very friendly and sweet Hamburgs that I consider to be pets!
Exploring the many wonderful breeds of bantams would be another avenue for finding chickens that could make good pets. Bantams are fun, friendly, and assertive. They can be trained to fly onto your extended arm or your shoulder. Bantams usually feel comfortable entering peoples houses, and they get along just fine with other pets and children. Bantams are also small and easy to provide and care for. Many people enjoy the company of Silkies, Japanese, and the Old English Game bantams.
A rooster or male chicken can sometimes make a better pet than a hen. Roosters are very confident, tend to stay more grounded and are less flighty, and don’t eat and poop as much as hens. They are noisy though!
One must realize though that a pet chicken is different from a pet cat or dog. For one thing, chickens cannot be house trained, and they poop a lot. They are also very dusty, as anyone who has brooded a group of chicks inside their house for a couple weeks has experienced. The dust is caustic and unhealthy to breathe in regularly. It is produced as the birds preen themselves and can be extremely prolific. Chickens like to forage and scratch and take dust baths and can make much mess by doing these very natural behaviors in your house.
A single pet chicken is also not a good idea. Chickens are flock animals, and a single chicken all by itself won’t feel happy and comfortable.
So it may be challenging to keep pet chickens in your home, but it is fine and quite wonderful to consider your backyard flock of chickens as pets and give them the respect and affection of pet status beyond the role of egg producer. It is fun and rewarding to interact with your chickens.