Chickens as Pets

May 16, 2011

I recently did a book signing at the Bibelot Shop where they asked me to bring along one of my chickens. As Coco sat docilely letting people hold her and feed her, everyone was amazed at how friendly she was.

As I chatted with the  customers, I was reminded that people who don’t have chickens often have a hard time comprehending the notion of chickens as pets. They understand chickens for eggs, fertilizer and bug control, but a quizzical look crosses their faces when you mention their appeal as pets.

Chicken owners on the other hand understand completely. They’ve had their chickens fall asleep on their lap watching while their hen’s eyes slowly keep drooping. They’ve had their chickens follow them around the yard getting underfoot like dogs.  Sharing such experiences is one reason why we like to hang out together on chicken forums and web sites.

Chicken owners love to watch when other owners eagerly whip out their phones and show videos of their flock running in the yard. We get support from others who understand completely when we say “I went out in the pouring rain this afternoon to pick up the worms lying in the driveway to feed to my girls because I felt bad they were stuck inside their run. Is this normal behavior?” When I twittered this exact message I received several reassuring responses from people around the country saying, “Yes, that’s completely normal!”

It’s fun to walk outside and have your girls stop whatever they’re doing and come running at full speed in their lopsided gait to greet you. It doesn’t happen when my husband steps out, they only run to greet me.

My girls are each different as to their level of personal contact. Cleo eagerly jumps onto the deck stair to sit with me whenever I sit down and she’ll stay, often falling asleep, as long as I let her. Roxanne likes to have her back massaged as she sits in the sun and Coco eagerly squats letting me pick her up and walk around the yard holding her. She’s usually more impatient than Cleo, however, and after she says hi for a few minutes she wants to be off, but that’s okay; she’s still young and “has places to go and lots to do.” Ruby is less of a touchy-feely type and a little more on the hyperactive side, but she too has moments when she’s right there beside you.

Chickens are more akin to cats as pets than they are to dogs. Their presence is indeed enough, they don’t feel the need to show off by doing tricks. They also aren’t keen on leashes or fetching but their soothing noises will relax and comfort you.

Don’t underestimate the power of a chicken. She will enchant you, entice you and entertain you. All you have to do is offer food and water and a cozy comfy lap.

18 Responses to “Chickens as Pets”

  1. May 16, 2011 at 2:13 pm, Kathleen Craig said:

    Oh how true. Can’t wait to see Coco as a grownup. What a great picture. They look beautiful. The eggs are over the top delicious. Thank you so much. Hope you and the girls are enjoying the warmer weather.

    Reply

    • May 16, 2011 at 7:10 pm, admin said:

      Thanks Kathleen, we’re all running in the sun. You’ll be surprised at how big Coco is!

      Reply

  2. May 16, 2011 at 2:40 pm, Sue @ All About Food said:

    Cute little girls you’ve got there, Janice. It sounds like you spoil them to the max!

    Reply

  3. May 16, 2011 at 3:24 pm, Ralph Hintz said:

    Janice,

    Just read your article about chickens as pets, what a hoot. I guess Marty just doesn’t have a way with the lady chickens. At least he managed to get you in his coop.

    Ralph

    Reply

    • May 16, 2011 at 7:11 pm, admin said:

      Ha! Yes, but I think like Barbara said, they know where the treats come from.

      Reply

  4. May 16, 2011 at 6:28 pm, Barbara said:

    I think the chicks know who the gourmet cook is (not Marty). You can come over and collect the worms on my driveway anytime; help yourself!

    Reply

    • May 16, 2011 at 7:12 pm, admin said:

      I’m not even sure they appreciated my effort with the worms!

      Reply

  5. May 26, 2011 at 1:31 pm, Melissa said:

    Hi there, Just discovered your site! I love it :) I too feel the same regard for chickens. I love having them as pets. I love their personalities and their funny little ways!

    Reply

    • May 26, 2011 at 1:51 pm, admin said:

      Welcome Melissa! So glad to have you join us. I can’t wait to explore your Tilly’s Nest site. Please stay in touch!

      Reply

  6. May 30, 2011 at 11:52 am, MizGreenJeans said:

    Be aware that earthworms (and snails as well) may be vectors for tapeworms such as Davainea and Raillietina. I generally avoid feeding them for that reason.

    Reply

    • May 30, 2011 at 12:32 pm, admin said:

      Very interesting, I had never heard that before! I’ll have to check into it. Don’t your girls eat earthworms on their own if they’re free ranging?

      Reply

  7. June 10, 2011 at 12:15 pm, Deena said:

    Janice, I wanted to let you know I have just finished reading your book, Chicken and Egg and I truely LOVED it!!! Me, a recent parent to four chicks (now pullets) found many kindred moments within your pages. Thank you for such a wonderful learning tool, incredible recipes (I am looking so forward to making some) and the laughter that bubbled up from within that could not be contained. As I go about my teenage weeks ahead with my own hens, I know that your wisdom and humor will undoubtedly find its way into my thoughts. Kindest Regards, Deena

    Reply

    • June 10, 2011 at 1:38 pm, admin said:

      Deena,
      I’m so happy to hear from you! You are in for so much fun with your girls, as you well know, undoubtedly your first eggs will be coming soon if they haven’t already and eating will never be the same! Good luck, thanks for the note and please keep in touch. Janice

      Reply

  8. July 14, 2011 at 10:14 am, Suzanne said:

    I;ve just found you, having searched for treat recipes for my hens. I have 7 ex-battery girls and 2 bantams; my poor ex-batts rarely lay eggs now – they’re worn out! – so they are my pets. The bantams are no less pets, but will never have known the horrors of a battery shed! This afternoon, I have had great fun watching them peck at treats and paddle! I put a dish in each of their areas (they are separated as I have had awful trouble with bullying!) and thay drank and paddled for ages!

    I will have to now look to see if I can find your book here in England

    Reply

    • July 14, 2011 at 12:16 pm, admin said:

      Suzanne,
      How delightful to hear from you! Your girls sound lovely and I can understand the fun of watching them paddle around eating treats. I had trouble getting new ones acclimated to each other but after awhile it will be fine, putting them together at night is a good way to begin. Check in and let me know how they are doing!

      Reply

  9. July 14, 2011 at 10:16 am, Suzanne said:

    Just placed an order with Amazon!

    Reply

    • July 14, 2011 at 12:17 pm, admin said:

      Thanks, let me know how you like it!

      Reply

  10. December 25, 2011 at 7:33 am, anna said:

    I, too, just found your website after seeing it on the back cover of Chicken and Egg. Last night was Christmas Eve, and at 11:00, I was reading and laughing my way through your precious book in front of a warm fire enjoying the magic of the season. 5 years ago, our family went from “city mouse” to “country mouse” moving to a small farm. And, on this farm, chickens were part of the real estate closing. It has opened our world to adventure, laughs and some obsession…I did not grow up with a lot of animals as a a child, but when I married a huntsman, I soon learned that animals were a part of that world. It was fun, but I never thought people could talk about their dogs so much….it practically bored me….well, fast forward a few years…my daughters and I probably bore my husband to tears with all the chicken talk and stories they give us each day….it is absolutely endless conversation and pure delight! It is nice to express such and adjective to those who love chickens. Your blog has opened my world and allowed me to think I am not so quirky after all… It is too much fun! Have a Merry Christmas! Anna

    Reply

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