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Should you keep backyard chickens as pets?

Posted by Lexi Montgomery on

Chickens as Pets?

Dogs and cats have long been the go-to choices for many when it comes to finding a companion to provide unconditional love as you navigate this confusing human life.

However, vet bills can accumulate rather quickly and dogs and cats can be a pain to care for when they have quirky personalities, or need more attention than expected. I have a dog that's absolutely terrified of loud noises.

Thankfully, she's a barkless breed. She just runs up under me or her daddy whenever she hears anything that freaks her out. Since we're bloggers that work from home, you can imagine all the noises she seeks comfort in response to each day.

It can be hard to get a break, and there are plenty of other annoying things that come along with owning a dog that no one ever talks about (like when they roll in goose poop).

Nonetheless, the habit of keeping chickens as pets has continually increased in popularity over the last couple of decades. Birds that were once viewed only from a farming perspective are now considered "pets." For many, they're more like best friends, and thus, they are seen as the best species for a household or backyard companion.

Here's why Chickens make for excellent pets:

1) They are gorgeous to look at

From the effortless coolness of the snow-white Silkie to the alluring appeal of the crown-wielding Polish chicken, there’s certainly no shortage of stunning birds.

These birds are not only beautiful, but they're also majestic and provide such a unique ambiance in any backyard environment. For the modern or city-dwelling homesteader, keeping chickens offers a piece of nature and makes for a calm, welcoming environment, even if you keep them on a rooftop in New York City.

Be it a shade of beautiful brown, a mix of beguiling white and eggshell, a hint of striking red, or any other lovely combination of color; you’re sure to find a breed that tickles your fancy.

In fact, there’s one breed of Chicken (The Easter Egger) that’s known for its peculiarly colored eggs which encompass blue and pink varieties. These eggs are fascinating to guests and make for a more natural toned easter egg assortment. The colors range, sure, but they are still natural and healthy looking without any crazy dyes or additives to achieve this spectacular look.

2) Chickens are inexpensive and easy-going

Chickens aren’t too clingy and won’t follow you around everywhere. This is a huge bonus for those accustomed to having clingy small dogs.

Our girl wants cuddles 24-7, and I love her, but she makes cuddling less enjoyable because she's so needy. And, she throws up every time she knows we're leaving her for a while. I feel so bad, but guilt avoidance also keeps us more stagnant than we'd like to be. 

With chickens, you can go about your errands the whole day and won’t come back to a sulking face, or an anxious bowel movement on your bed.

With a pinch of attention every so often and some food to go with it, chickens will be content with their lives. What’s more, they repay their upkeep with some eggs for breakfast! Most chickens produce 200-300 eggs each year. At $5 a carton, organic eggs can be very expensive. So in a sense, you can save money by keeping chickens.

3) They love to cuddle

While not all chickens like to be touched, there are many who love the attention.

The Silkie Chicken comes to mind, with its furry and silky exterior feeling quite nice to the touch.

It’s not afraid to get on your lap for some close-up loving, and it’s so docile that it wouldn’t harm a fly, so to speak. Many breeds are great with children and make for excellent starter pets. Other great lap breeds also include the cochin, sultan, the Brahma chicken, and the polish chicken. 

4) Chickens are beneficial for your garden

Like most manure, your soil will remain fresh and healthy with this natural fertilization process.

Chicken manure is an excellent plant fertilizer containing an abundance of potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen, among other essential nutrients.

Albeit, chickens can help out with pest-control as their excretions can help keep the insect and pest population at bay. 

Now there are countless benefits to having chickens. These are only just a few. But as with any responsibility, there are downsides. The primary downside is NOT the early morning noise, surprisingly. You get used to that rather quickly. But the true downsides are more based on our human lifestyles and habits.

First, many landlords will not allow you to keep a chicken coop in your backyard.

Secondly, if you live in close proximity to neighbors, the idea of raising chickens can be pretty foreign and perturbing. In the city, many aren't welcoming to the idea of farm animals living within close range. For some reason, neighbors tend to be set in their ways, and despise the chicken feathers floating into their yard, and early morning wake up call.

Here are a few more downsides of having chickens as pets:

1) They can be pretty noisy

Roosters are typically the culprits when it comes to noise, but hens also deserve a share of the blame.

Happy-go-clucky chickens might be a problem if you - or the neighbors - don’t fancy a 5 am alarm you’d sign up for. 

This is unfortunate because the happiest chickens tend to be noisy. Imagine, if your life was a 24-7 college party with your best friends, you'd be pretty noisy too!

2) And they can be pretty smelly

Chicken poop doesn’t smell nice, let's put it that way.

The other problem is that chickens poop wherever they please. WHEREVER THEY PLEASE!

This can make for quite a mess, but hey, at least they don't roll in their own poop!

So be prepared for stepping into a little smudge on your doorstep. If you allow them inside, you may find a heap on your favorite chair from time to time. The good thing is, they can't poop where you don't allow them to go.

In their defense though, they don’t have the muscled sphincters we do, which gives us the ability to control bowel movements. In other words, they can't decide when to go to the bathroom. 

Other pets might be able to hold it and set you up with a big creamy behemoth - just because they're pissed you didn't take them on a long walk.

3) They kick up a lot of dust

Chickens are like mini-excavators on legs.

They love to explore, scratch, and kick up dirt. You’ll need to do a lot of vacuuming to keep things neat and tidyif you allow them inside the house! 

So should you have chickens as pets?

Noise and indiscriminate droppings aside, chickens make for excellent companions.

If you live on a nice stretch of property, we absolutely recommend that you keep a few chickens.

Some breeds are charming and friendly, while others are exceptionally hued and dynamic.

They never disappoint, and won't require a lot of extra care or attention.

You’ll need to clean up after them though, but they are affordable to maintain and don’t come with hefty demands.

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