Keeping Pet Chickens – An IntroductionKeith
A few tips to start your own pet chickens.
If you give a good life to them, pet chickens are great characters and keeping them can teach children (and some adults!) all manner of life skills, including understanding where food comes from and respect for other creatures.
Hens make excellent pets. They are more interesting than guinea pigs, live longer than gerbils, mice or hamsters and able to lead a better life than those poor imprisoned rabbits, garden hens are just the thing.
At 24 weeks old, spring-hatched pullets are reaching laying age and are ready for sale and, provided children are initially supervised, taught the importance of boring things like regular hygiene routines (hand washing and boot scraping) and the responsibilities of care, a small flock of garden hens will give your family an abundance of learning opportunities and years of fun.
Finding your pet chickens could be a major holiday project. Outings to visit breeders, shows, poultry centres and hen-keeping friends could be sorted. A trip to the library to view the British Poultry Standards book will introduce you to all the varieties of descendants of the original Red Jungle Fowl, and breeds originating from all over the planet: booted, crested, frizzled, silken and bare-necked, in every colour, size and pattern conceivable.
It’s usually recommended for beginner’s breeds like the decorative Pekin, that comes in a variety of colours that each member of even the largest family could have its own different coloured chuck to care for. Docile and patient, they’re like little tea cosies with feathery legs. Alternatively, try Silkies, Dutch or Belgian bantams or the massive Orpingtons or Brahmas.
Older children can make their own choices, though should be warned that some of the more extraordinary-looking breeds are delicate and an expensive learning curve for beginners.
One great advantage of hens is fresh eggs daily. Can you smell the bacon Sunday morning.