Don’t “chicken out” on raising chickens. They’re super easy and rewarding pets. They have fun personalities and are social and curious. If you don’t have the hours it takes to truly devote to a dog or even a cat – like us, chickens are the perfect pets. A few reasons why we keep them:
First of all, you know what you’re getting. They’re organic, free range eggs. The eggs taste ‘eggier’ and have a deeper orange-ish yolk (is that even a word)? Different breeds produce different sizes and colors of eggs. Once you’ve tasted fresh eggs you will never go back. Store eggs just taste bland to us now. You may want to research breeds to see which types of chickens are consistently good egg layers. Rhode Island Reds are wonderful egg layers, but Wyandotte are total love bugs, so get a variety and get to know their personalities.
They are super simple to keep. Your main goal is to keep them safe. Make sure your enclosure is raccoon and weasel proof. They need a clean place to sleep and food that is safe from predators. Lock them in at night and let them out in the morning. They will go in by themselves in the evening. Keep their pens stocked with fresh hay or wood chips. They love ‘arranging’ it when they get a new pile of hay and will entertain themselves for hours. They also will need nesting boxes. Generally you will need one nesting box for every 2-4 hens.
Have a scrap bowl for them in your kitchen. They love everything. They are omnivores. They will happily devour almost everything you give them. They still need a hopper of regular chicken feed, but they love their surprise treats of leftovers. Their favorite foods are corn on the cob and watermelon. They can eat a watermelon down to a paper thin rind. Don’t give them leftover chicken or eggs cause that’s just creepy. They don’t like citrus, especially grapefruit. Go figure…. They get so spoiled that they will look over the variety of offerings and choose which they want to eat first. If there’s a cupcake in the mix they will dive right in before they will go for the salad. It’s so funny to see them running around with frosting on their beak like lipstick.
Different breeds have different personalities. Ameraucanas are skittish and don’t like to be held. Barred Rocks will follow you around and will come right in to the house if the door is open. Australorps are loud mouths and you can hear her in the house with the door shut. It’s fun to get to see their different personalities.
We call it chicken TV. We sit in a chair out by them and just watch their behavior. They are quite entertaining and have definite personalities. They aren’t afraid of cats but keep them away from most dogs. They love to ‘bathe’ in the dust. They dig a hole and stretch out their wings and fluff dust all over. They also definitely have a pecking order and you can tell who’s in charge. Sometimes the pecking order changes. It’s hilarious to watch them run (waddle more like it). They actually can fly a bit so don’t think a low fence is going to keep them in. They are very curious and want to explore anywhere they can. They usually stay pretty much together for safety. They don’t call them ‘chicken’ for nothing. They are super skittish at loud noises or quick movements. If you corner one, she will ‘hunker’ down and act like if she doesn’t move you might not see her. I see you!! Good try!!
They don’t like slugs and they are not good for them. They can wipe out an English ivy problem with ease. They love to eat up any and every bug, grub or worm they can get.
We use our chicken poop to help accelerate our compost. It delivers valuable nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium to the soil. Do not put un-composted chicken poop directly on plants as it will harm the roots.