Are Chickens Good Pets for Homeowners?
The Best Dual Purpose Chickens Can Be Pets and Food Producers!
Why would anyone ask, “Are chickens good pets?” Aren’t chickens kept for fresh eggs and meat?
If you’ve never owned a small flock of backyard chickens, that might be your response. However, any of us who have raised flocks of chickens know with certainty that some chickens become more than egg layers. They become pets. When possible, homeowners are keeping chickens for the fresh eggs, insect reduction, and companionship! But as with any pet, the needs of the chicken must be met.
Chickens may be good pets but they aren’t usually kept as house pets. As with other livestock-type pets, chickens don’t like being the only one, so a small flock of three or more is optimal. After you acquire your flock, they will need healthy food, fresh water, and a home of their own in your backyard. Make sure that your town or county allows backyard chickens before bringing home your new pets. Even though many people are fine with the question, “are chickens good pets,” not everyone agrees. Many towns and municipalities have banned owning backyard chickens and livestock.
Dual Purpose Chicken Breeds
Most times when you hear the term, dual purpose chicken breeds, it refers to breeds that are kept for both egg production and meat for the table. The best dual purpose chicken breeds are often the heritage breeds that have been around for many generations of chicken keeping. These breeds were often kept by early settlers and pioneers as egg layers in the spring and summer. In many cases the chickens were harvested for meat in the fall, so they wouldn’t need food throughout the winter when egg-laying rates are low. This practice made sense for homesteaders and family farmers who needed to carefully allocate financial resources in the best ways possible. Feeding chickens over the winter when foraging was scarce didn’t make sense.
Now, many backyard chickens have the advantage of living a happy life long past maximum egg production age. The pet chickens earn their keep by offering companionship, cuddles, and they gobble up their fair share of pesky garden insects, too. Some hens will serve as the flock broody, hatching out chicks that will provide future eggs or meat for the family.
Are Chickens Good Pets and Income Producers?
There are some ways to make keeping chickens as pets sit easy with the family budget. There are a number of ways that chickens can earn their keep. Fresh eggs is the most popular reason, but have you considered the fertilizer that your pet chickens are creating? If you grow a garden, composted chicken manure is worth it’s weight in gold! Any chicken breed you choose to raise will produce this valuable commodity.
The Orpington chicken breed includes the Buff, Lavender, and Jubilee varieties. These stout, fluffy birds are often the first choice for those seeking slow-moving, gentle chickens that are willing to be cuddled. Branch out from the usual with a Speckled Sussex. These sweet hens are the loveliest souls of the chicken world, not to mention they also pass as beautiful yard ornaments. Bantam breeds often appeal to families with young children, as their size is less intimidating.
Selling fresh eggs from naturally raised hens is another way to make money with your pets. Are chickens good pets? They sure are when you can collect a few extra dollars a week selling fresh eggs. If this is your goal, choose breeds known for both good temperaments and higher egg production. These best chickens for eggs will get your egg business off to a good start. Leghorns, Sussex, Rhode Island Reds, Wyandottes, and Black Australorps are good heritage chickens who do a good job with egg production. Hybrids such as the Production Reds, Gold Stars, and Black Stars lay a large quantity of eggs throughout the year. Look for well over 200 eggs per year from these power-layers.
Other Reasons to Own Chickens
Raising meat chickens isn’t for everyone and certainly takes a different mindset than keeping chickens for eggs. My recommendation to have chickens for pets and producing chickens for meat would be a dual purpose heritage breed. Keeping the broody hens as a pets, along with a gentle rooster (yes! Some roosters are quite well behaved) and then raising the chicks for future harvesting might work for you. Conventional meat breeds such as the Cornish Cross or Red Rangers are bred to be different birds. These meat breeds grow very quickly and rarely make good pets. They don’t live very long lives even if they are not harvested for meat. Instead, consider raising Jersey Black Giants, White Rocks, Brahmas, and Plymouth Rocks for dual purpose, egg production and table chicken.
There are quite a few breeds of chickens that can be kept as pets, egg producers and also used for selling fertilized eggs. Many chicken fanciers are eager to purchase fertilized eggs from a quality producer. This pursuit would include keeping track of genetic records, occasionally bringing in a new rooster to increase the gene pool, and keeping careful health records for NPIP. Adding some fancy chickens or even bantam breeds to your backyard flock is a good idea. Crested Polish chickens, Bantam Cochins, Silkies, Mille Fleur d’Uccle and other fancy chickens will still provide eggs while adding variety to your flock. These breeds might be a good start to a hatching-egg-selling business.
Owning Chickens As Part of a Simpler Life
Although I have listed some of the more lucrative reasons to say yes to “are chickens good pets,” don’t forget about the pure ornamental beauty of a flock. Watching your own pet chickens peck the ground, take dust baths, and come running for treats is so rewarding. Add to that, the pure fun of collecting fresh eggs for your breakfast and baking, and adding the composted manure to the garden. You will soon agree that yes, is the answer to “are chickens good pets.”