Are there certain breeds that are friendlier than others?
All chickens have individual personalities and good days and bad days. Just like you and I, they will be more sociable some day than others. Some chicken breeds are considered to be particularly friendly and easy going, but in my experience, they are all sociable and enjoy human interaction. Chickens which have been handled from a young age, will obviously be more used to being held.
In general, Silkies are very placid, and being a smaller breed are often easier for smaller children to handle. Buff Orpingtons are called the ‘Golden Retriever of the Chicken World’ - not because of their colour, but because they are very friendly and enjoy being handled.
Are chickens compatible with children?
Well behaved children, yes. Children must be taught to respect the hens and to hold them properly and they will forge a good relationship. My brother had a pet chicken when he was 5 or 6 years old. He used to take her everywhere with him, including in the basket of his bike.
What about other pets?
Chickens are sociable and will generally get on with all other animals, however they are inquisitive and may irritate some dogs. Hens don’t have terribly good manners and will often take food from the dog’s bowl and a playful dog may run the risk of frightening a hen. Generally a mutually acceptable ‘pecking order’ is quickly established amongst pets.
How much do chickens cost?
Prices vary from breed to breed and area to area but they are definitely affordable, to buy and keep, for most families. As an alternative to pure breeds, do consider commercial hybrids or re-homing ex-battery hens. They lay far more eggs than the pure breeds, and hen-rescue is a very reward thing to do.
Will chickens ruin your garden?
They certainly have the potential to do so. It depends on their personality. I have had real ‘wreckers’ and also hens that are well behaved and cause no damage whatsoever. They may well peck off tasty flower-heads and buds from plants in the beds and borders and scratch soil over paths and lawns. And do remember that they will poop wherever they want to.
Do chickens like to be held?
Many chickens enjoy attention and being held and stroked. Do be careful not to put your face too close to a chicken though. Occasionally they mistake a ‘blink’ for something moving that they can eat and will peck toward your eye. They also like shiny things and will sometimes peck at jewellery. As with any animal, please be respectful and use common sense. You don’t need to put your face into any pet's face.
Do chickens make low-maintenance pets?
No pet should be bought as a low maintenance pet. All pets need maintenance and thinking they are ‘low maintenance’ can be misleading. They will need feeding and watering every day, letting out in the morning and shutting in at night (unless you are wise enough to invest in a ChickenGuard automatic door opener). They will need cleaning out and a certain amount of company but in return they will teach routine, and discipline, and reward you with fresh eggs and lots of entertainment.
My guess is that the longer you keep chickens, the more time you will want to spend with them, not less. hey are good company and make great pets. In fact, chickens are increasingly being used as therapy animals for those on the autism spectrum to develop communication, play and interaction skills.
To make chicken ownership easier, the ChickenGuard automatic coop door opener was created and it is life-changing. The system uses timers and light sensors to open and close henhouse doors in the morning and evening, protecting the birds from predators and ensuring unbroken sleep for owners who prefer not to retire and rise as early as their hens do. The automatic coop door allows chook owners to go on extended holidays or weekends away with peace of mind.
Any other expert tips?
A treat for hens in hot weather: Share out a tin of sweetcorn between compartments in a muffin tray, top up each one with water and freeze. Give to your hens in hot weather. Pecking away at an ice block, to be rewarded with an ice cold kernel of corn, will help keep them cool and happy.
Ever heard of chook therapy? Watch how much joy chickens can bring
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