Chickens as Pets: The Best Therapy Yet

Chickens as Pets: The Best Therapy Yet

So you’ve heard keeping chickens as pets is a good idea – you get free breakfast, lots of laughs, and a new best friend to watch Netflix with.

 

You can keep your flock of chickens in a safe coop outdoors; some people like keeping a chicken as a pet in the house (using a diaper, of course).

 

And many owners believe their chickens are the best form of therapy (and you even get eggs….find a therapist that can do THAT).

 

In this article, I’ll answer some frequent questions about keeping chickens as pets: the good, the bad, and the ugly (just kidding…there isn’t any ugly. Or bad for that matter). Pet chicken care is easy, as long as you take a few things into consideration before making the leap into owning indoor pet chickens.

 

What does an indoor pet chicken eat?

Good chicken-keeping practices say that you should feed your pet chicken a high-quality layer ration with at least 16% protein feed. Most major brands out there put a lot of time and effort into producing feeds with the right amount of nutrients, so you can’t really go wrong with them.

 

You can also make your own non-gmo layer feed with my favorite recipe here.

 

That being said, your new chicken best friend can eat most fruits and vegetables (I explain which ones to avoid here), as well as yogurt, cheese, eggs (yes eggs), and meat if you want to go that direction.

 

Chickens are omnivores and opportunistic eaters, so they will go for meat if you let them (they love bugs, right?). Whether you want them to have meat protein is completely up to you.

 

Stay away from feeding your pet chickens anything processed, with salt, sugar, or artificial anything. Fresh and all natural is best for your indoor pet chicken!


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Chickens as Pets: Chicken Breeds

While ANY chicken can make good pets, there are some breeds that naturally lend themselves to the role. Silkies, for example, are beautiful and very docile. Silkies are also healthy, and love spending time with people. Rhode Island Reds are great chickens as pets, and we’ve kept a few as pets and been very happy with them.

 

Thinking about keeping chickens as pets? Here's what you need to know!

 

Chickens as Pets: pros and cons

Before getting chickens as pets, there’s some things you should think about. Will your chickens live indoors or outdoors? Can you handle the amount of poop? (Yes, they poop a LOT).

 

Particularly if you have children, having a pet chicken means you will need to keep up with cleaning and disinfecting, especially if your hens live indoors; they ARE carriers of salmonella and campylobacter bacteria (amongst others), and your kids can pick the bacteria up. Ask me how I know.

 

This isn’t to say you SHOULDN’T keep indoor pet chickens, you’ll just need to be aware and be extra vigilant. There are things you can do (such as feed apple cider vinegar and yogurt) that will introduce beneficial bacteria into your pets digestive system, but it won’t eliminate ALL of the bad bacteria. It just creates an environment where the good bacteria can proliferate.

 

What about medical care? Do you have avian vets in your area? Are you prepared to take your chickens to a vet? Are you willing to learn how to care for her if you can’t take her to a vet? (this is possible and reasonable – we don’t have qualified avian vets in our area, so we have to wing it on our own).

 

Chickens as pets are more delicate than a cat or dog, and they tend to have shorter lives. They also get mysteriously sick and don’t let their humans know until it’s too late (yes, this really does happen)  – are you okay with that?

 

Chickens as Pets: What about Neighbors?

Something else to consider is whether your neighbors are on board if you decide to keep chickens as pets – ESPECIALLY if your local area has restrictions. Don’t be the guy that decides you’re smarter than city hall – the roads are paved with used-to-be chicken owners who had to get rid of their flocks because they didn’t follow town restrictions.

 

If you’re planning to keep indoor pet chickens, then it’s none of the neighbor’s business what you do – but keeping a hen instead of a rooster is a smart idea. If your flock will live outdoors, though, you might want to clear it with the neighbors.

 

Even if your town doesn’t have rules about chickens, a ticked off neighbor can still complain, that the city can “invent” rules at their convenience – yes, it’s happened. People have had whole legal battles and it’s taken months to keep the chickens they were allowed to legally own in the first place. Discretion is the better part of valor.

 

So, do you think keeping chickens as pets is for you? I hope so, they’re a lot of fun!

 

Thinking about keeping chickens as pets? Here's what you need to know!

More Resources for Those Interested in Raising Chickens as Pets:

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Chicken Emergency Kits: Making Stressful Situations Less Intimidating!

Chicken Emergency Kits: Making Stressful Situations Less Intimidating!

It’s always a very good idea to create your own chicken emergency kit – and in this article, I’m going to give you ideas about what to keep in it.

 

While we all might like to think our chicken-keeping experience will be bucolic and without any trouble, the straight truth is you will likely come up against some sort of trouble at some point.

 

Mites, worms, cuts, or infections tend to rear their ugly head at the most inconvenient times (like when you plan to be out of town for a week – chickens have great timing like that) and having an emergency kit on hand will make a stressful situation easier.

 

The items in this article are just a suggestion – you can add or subtract or include your own items as you find what works for your particular backyard chicken flock.

 

There’s also links where you can buy these items directly from Amazon, so you have them on hand.

What should you add in the chicken emergency kit?

 

The first thing you may want to purchase is a plastic container that also has a cover, like this one. You will want to clearly mark it (write “Chicken Emergency Kit” on it with a marker, for example) so you can easily locate it, and your family doesn’t raid it for supplies for other projects.

Once you have the plastic container ready, you will have to think about the items to include.

Here’s some that are easy to source and can save your butt (and possibly your hen’s life):

 

Nutri drench

Click here to get it on Amazon

This is powdered electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals that you mix with water. You can offer it to your chicken when they’re hurt to keep them hydrated and healthy enough to combat their illness or trauma. If they’re stressed and in pain, they’re less likely to eat and drink. Very important!

 

Saline solution

Click here to get it on Amazon

If your chicken has dust or dirt in her eyes or an open wound, saline solution will help you flush it clean.

 

Triple antibiotic ointment or natural alternative

Click here to get antibiotic ointment on Amazon

Click here to get a natural alternative on Amazon

If your chicken get an open wound, you will need to put something on it after flushing it clean. If you use over-the-counter drugs with your flock then triple antibiotic ointment is great, or a natural alternative if you’re raising them 100% natural.

 

Blu-Kote

Click here to buy it on Amazon

Another topical antiseptic alternative. I don’t personally use it, but a lot of people like Blu-Kote because it’s blue, and deters other chickens from picking at open wounds. (However, if you use an all-natural thick salve, you will have the same effect)

 

Pure organic honey

Click here to buy it on Amazon

(Check the label that there’s ONLY honey in it – no corn syrup or other additives). Honey is great for wounds, especially if the sores are wet and gooey. It can be hard to put salve or ointments on wet wounds, and honey has natural antibacterial qualities and gets into tiny crevices to battle bacteria.

 

Poultry VetRX

Click here to buy it on Amazon

This is based on an all-natural formula that’s been around since the 19th century. It’s particularly great for colds or upper-respiratory infections, and can come in handy for eye worms, scaly legs as well. Ingredients include Canada balsam, camphor, oil origanum, oil rosemary, all blended in a corn oil base.

 

Diatomaceous Earth

Click here to buy it on Amazon

Just keep a small bag around for emergencies. It’s great for scaly leg mites, but be sure to apply it on a windy day or at least in a breezy area so neither you nor your chicken inhale it. Food-grade only!

 

Coconut oil

Click here to buy it on Amazon

If you plant to use essential oils to support a healthy hen, then you can dilute it in the oil. Also great for adding moisture to excessively dry skin.

 

Heat lamp or heating pad

Click here to buy a heat lamp on Amazon

Click here to buy a heating pad on Amazon

Even if your chicken isn’t a chick, when they’re sick, keeping them warm is a good idea, as long as the ambient temperature in the room isn’t too hot. Also be sure to give them an area to get out of the heat, if your chicken wants to.

 

Penicillin or Tylan 50

It’s best to get this through a vet or from your local feed store

If you’re using Western medicine to treat your flock then having injectible antibiotics on hand is a good idea. Check with a poultry vet for the correct dosage.

 

Probiotics

Click here to buy it on Amazon

If you have a sick or injured chicken, giving them probiotics will help ensure their body has good gut health to help them heal (it won’t heal a broken leg, for example, but it WILL ensure your chicken has good gut health to maintain SOME standard of health – a wonky gut will only make healing more difficult).

 

Some standard chicken emergency kit items also include:

 

  • Gauze pads
  • A first aid tape
  • Cotton swabs
  • Wooden popsicle sticks to act as a splint for legs or wings
  • Syringes for dosing or helping a hen stay hydrated – Click here to buy syringes on Amazon

 

I’d like to hear from you!

Do you have a chicken emergency kit created yet? What do you keep in yours? Leave a comment below!

Chicken 911! Chicken Emergencies And Preparedness [Podcast]

Chicken 911! Chicken Emergencies And Preparedness [Podcast]

When you have a chicken emergency, it can be a confusing and stressful situation.

 

In this episode of What The Cluck?! we explore an emergency on the farm this week, how we handled it, and what you can do to be prepared for emergencies with your flock.*

 

You’ll learn:

  • When to apply natural medicine versus traditional Western medicine
  • Tools, medications, and equipment to keep on hand
  • How to handle critical, spur-of-the-moment judgement calls
  • Mistakes with natural medicine you want to avoid

 

(LIKE THIS PODCAST? LISTEN TO THE REST HERE)

Links we discuss in this podcast:

 

Disposable gloves I personally use

 

Where to buy raw honey 

(This is through Thrive Market, which is the best online health food store. They ethically source their products, and treat their customers very, very well. I’ve been a customer of theirs for years, and highly, highly recommend them).

 

Electrolytes I recommend

 

Where to find an avian vet in your area

 

Feeding Your Hens Right

 

 

*Disclaimer: I am not a licensed veterinarian. In any emergency, I recommend you contact a qualified veterinarian. The information in this podcast is for educational purposes only, and reflects only my personal experience.

 

I’d like to hear from you!

Have you dealt with an emergency with your chickens before? What are your must-haves in your emergency kit? Email me at [email protected] or comment below!