Pet Chickens

May 16, 2011


Oyster Cracker

I think how you view things in the world as an adult stems mostly from what you are taught as a child.  The debate goes on as to whether chickens can be pets.  Many people who have never owned or met a chicken view them strictly as livestock.  Livestock chickens are kept as long as they have a purpose, such as laying eggs.  Once their purpose is over, often they are culled and removed from the flock ending up on a dinner plate or in a compost pile.

As a child, I was always taught to be kind to everything, be compassionate and empathize for those worse off than you, including animals.  I think it is pretty safe to say that although our chickens can be viewed as livestock, they are our pets.  Which leads me to another question that I get asked a lot.  “Do chickens make good pets?”  I believe they do.

I have almost had my flock for almost a year and I can tell you that as a human species in general, we definitely have not given chickens enough credit, and I’m sure even other types of livestock for that matter.  Mind you, I speak from my observations.  I can draw no scientific conclusions.  However, I tell you my own experiences.

Chickens are capable and do experience emotions.  I have seen fear, love, happiness and sadness.  I have felt them shake as nervous chihuahuas do.  I have seen love and camaraderie. My two buff Orpingtons are inseparable.  When one is missing for any extended length of time, the other calls out repeatedly in a very loud distressed voice.  They are best friends.  They are capable of being happy when new treats arrive and when I come to visit them. I see them saddened and confused when a flock member is no longer present.  I also see them sharing treats with one another, showing each other a great deal of consideration.

Chicken mothers share love and are incredibly intelligent when it comes to knowing exactly what to do.  Yes, some of it is most likely purely instinct.  They could just sit on the eggs and let them incubate.  Instead, they roll the eggs very gently and cautiously.  They talk to their eggs.  They know to be careful of the baby chicks.  They keep them warm and teach them how to survive.  The mother hen sacrifices her own needs for the sake of her babies.  It is not unusual that hens can loose a good amount of their body weight while being broody.

Just like in every family, every chicken plays a role in the pecking order that they have created amongst themselves.  It does not take long if you really take the time to sit and watch your chickens.  You will find that they all know their individual duties and responsibilities.

Every chicken in our flock appreciates me.  Some are friendlier than others and some just love me to pieces.  I don’t think that anything such as pets vs. livestock can ever fall into such black and white categories.  If you ask me, I like to live my life in the gray.

Oyster Cracker loves love.

And what’s not to love? There’s something intrinsically happy about a chicken. The name: a little hiccup in the mouth. The shape: a jaunty upswing of feathers, a grin. The ceaseless bobbing, scratching, pecking. It’s nearly impossible to feel melancholy in the company of chickens. They are a balm for the weary urban soul.–Elizabeth Giddens, New York Times Writer

I’m happy to call my chickens pets.



Photo Credit: 4JPhotography


Author/Blogger/Freelancer-Sharing adventures with backyard chickens, beekeeping, gardening, crafting, cooking and more.



13 thoughts on “Pet Chickens”

  1. I couldn't agree more. I am happily surprised with how affectionate the chickens are toward me and I toward them. I never would have imagined myself kissing chickens, but these days, I can't help myself! 🙂

  2. Love your website–what great pictures. I too have a backyard flock of 8 hens that I'm very excited about. I know you are up in Mass, but thought perhaps some of your followers are down my way and might be interested in attending the Mid Atlantic Small Flock Poultry Expo being hosted by the University of Maryland on Feb 4, 2012. I was really excited when I found out about it. A whole day of classes for people like us. If you want to hook people up with it, they have all the details posted at Keep up the good work. LeAnn–4-H parent

  3. I totally agree that chickens can be good pets. I have a Buff Orpington that is so sweet and lovable. But I have also seen the really nasty side when they all ganged up on my Buffy and chewed through her feathers and skin and down to the muscle so much that I had to take her to the vets and feed her antibiotics anddress her wounds. I have raised chickens for several years and this is the first time I have had such a bad bunch and I am seriously thinking just to decrease my flock from 12 to 4. That's how disgusted I am with the whole bunch.

  4. Chickens are amazing, it's too bad that more people don't get to know these wonderful creatures! My girls (4 hens) go out to roam the yard during the day and when I come home, or just come out of the house, they come running to say hello–that always brings a smile to my face 🙂 They are inquisitive and hilarious and they seek out human contact. I especially love when I reach down to pick some dandelion greens (mind you, they have ACRES of lawn to enjoy) and they come running to have me feed them by hand … seems they know who the mom is in the family 🙂

  5. I'm really into your website; what do you name your hens? I'm interested in acquiring my own flock soon in the spring, and I'm not the kind of person you consult for baby names with…

    • Thank you! You can see all of our chickens and their portraits with their names on the right side bar. They are Tilly, Oyster Cracker, Sunshine, Fifi, Feathers, Dolly, and Autumn. Can you tell the kids helped name them? When you get them, watch them and their personalities. I think this might help when you go to name them. I am so excited for you to get some in the spring.


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Sharing an inspired life from the New England seaside. Chickens, Bees, Gardens, Art and Yummy Goodness.