Chickens as pets

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A flock of pet chickens
Hand-feeding chickens

Keeping chickens as pets became increasingly popular in the 2000s[1] among urban and suburban residents.[2]


A pet bantam hen

Chickens are considered to be quite intelligent. As chickens are flock birds, they should live in a group of at least 5 birds for optimal health. If not raised properly, roosters may become aggressive. Breeds such as Silkies and many bantams are generally docile, making them ideal pets for owners with small children.[3] Some cities in the United States allow chickens as pets, while others ban them. Some may only ban roosters due to the crowing.[4] City ordinances, zoning regulations or health boards may determine whether chickens may be kept.[5] A general requirement is that the birds be confined to the owner's property and are not allowed to roam freely. There may be restrictions on the size of the property or how far from human dwellings they may be located, etc.[6]

During Easter, chickens are especially popular as pets, due to their association with the holiday. However, animal shelters that accept chickens often complain that during the weeks and months following Easter, there is a rise in unwanted and neglected birds that were bought as Easter "gifts", especially for children.[7]

In Asia, chickens with striking plumage have long been kept for ornamental purposes, including feather-footed varieties such as the Cochin and the Silkie from China, and the extremely long-tailed Onagadori from Japan. Asian ornamental varieties were imported into the United States and Great Britain in the late 1800s. Distinctive American varieties of chickens have been developed from these Asian breeds. Poultry fanciers began keeping these ornamental birds for exhibition, a practice that continues today. Individuals in rural communities commonly keep chickens for both ornamental and practical value. The rarest breed in Britain is the famous Scots Dumpy.

Chickens can run fairly quickly, and they can jump and fly for short periods of time (When flying, chickens will reach heights of about 10 feet (3.048 meters), and fly around 40 to 50 feet (or around 12 to 15 meters), slowly losing altitude)[8]. Since chickens can jump and fly over short fences, many chicken owners tend to set up coops with nets or some other covering to keep them from wandering off, or flying over the fences. Covering the chicken run also helps protect against many predators.[9]


Chicken coop and run

A chicken coop is a housing that provides a flock of chickens that are kept outside shelter. Inside, there will often be nesting boxes along with perches, on which the birds can rest upon.

Additional material, like hay or pine chips, can be added to make cleaning the coop easier and provide insulation during the winter. Backyard coops are small and fenced, often with chicken wire, allowing chickens an area to roam, peck and hunt insects. Chicken tractors are floorless coops which can be dragged about a yard. Chicken waterers and feeders are an important part of keeping chickens as pets. There are hanging waterers/feeders, nipple waterers and waterer cups. When creating a home for their flocks, owners should plan on a specific amount of coop space and roosting space, nest boxes, food and water for the number of birds in their flock.

Show chickens[edit]

A Silkie chicken

Chicken shows may be found both at county fairs and sanctioned shows hosted by regional poultry clubs. 4,000 or more birds may be entered in some shows. The Poultry Club of Great Britain sanctions poultry shows in Britain while the American Poultry Association and the American Bantam Association do likewise in America. Such organizations also work with poultry breed clubs of people who have interests in specific breeds of chickens.

See also[edit]


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