Two years ago my husband and I decided to purchase a home. Our wish lists were quite different and the house searching process become frustrating at times, but we eventually found the perfect home for us. We were very happy and excited to be taking this new step in our lives. But the happiness was overshadowed by the loss of my beloved dog of 13 years. Sadly, he passed away just days before we moved into our new home. My heart was broken and I said I would never have another pet again. Little did I know it wouldn’t be very long until I did have pets again.
The home we purchased included 16 acres of land. A little research into the property taxes in our new town revealed that we could save some money through the homestead exclusion. My husband quickly decided we would get a couple goats and some chickens. He began converting part of an existing shed into a chicken coop and constructing a shelter for the goats. I wasn’t sure about the goats but I thought having a few chickens running around might be fun.
An Abundance of Chickens
Did I say a few chickens? After several trips to the local farm supply store that spring, we ended up with a total of 24 little chicks, all peeping away in a big box in our basement. The peeps were just too darn cute for my husband to resist. All but one of them thrived and grew quickly. Once it was warm enough, we moved them outside to the coop.
As peeps, the chickens were absolutely adorable and it was amazing to watch how much they grew each day. But it wasn’t until we moved them outside that I really became fascinated with them. Each one had its own distinct personality. Some were bold and strutted around with an attitude. Some were skittish and dodged away when I got too close. Others were very friendly and would allow me to pet them. But they all came running when it was time to eat.
I established a daily routine for taking care of the chickens. In the morning, I would go out and fill their food trough and give them fresh water. They would all gather around me, waiting for the food. I began speaking to them the same as I would a dog or a cat, greeting them with a hearty “Good Morning, girls! How is everyone doing today?” and reaching down to pet the calmer ones. In the afternoon, I would again feed them and give them fresh water. Once they began laying eggs, I added egg collecting to my afternoon routine. I always thanked them for the eggs. I think they appreciated that.
Chickens as Pets
I have come to love my chickens. I enjoy watching them run around when we let them out to free range. I worry about them when they stray too far from the house. And I was devastated when a predator reduced our flock by 8 in a single day. Although they are farm animals and they have a job to do (reducing our grocery bills by providing us with eggs everyday) they are also my pets.
If you are thinking about getting pet chickens of your own, here are some things to consider:
- · Chickens need fed twice a day (or only a few times a week if you use bulk feeders and watering systems)
- · Chickens can be very friendly and some will even sit on your lap. You can use the breed selector tool at mypetchicken.com to find the best chicken type for you.
- · Chickens are great for people who work outside of the home. They keep each other company so you don’t have to worry about them getting lonely while you are at work.
- · They make you feel loved. They will come running when they hear or see you.
- · They give back and work hard. Mature hens produce an egg every day or two. They eat bugs and provide a never ending supply of fertilizer for your lawn or garden. They eat your kitchen scraps.
- · Chickens won’t leave little hairs all over your furniture and clothes. And they won’t give your house that funky pet-owner smell.
- · Make sure you research your local laws and ordinances regarding livestock before you begin your backyard flock. BackyardChickens.com has a handy tool to help with this.
This Chick Loves Chickens
Although I still miss my dog every day, I don’t think I will ever go back to owning a house pet. But I will definitely be keeping backyard chickens as long as I can.