WAG knows that the people of the Upstate love brunch. What if you could have a pet that would help provide you with an awesome brunch at home? Chickens not only provide food for your table, they are quirky and charactered pets!
In our new Pet Owner AMA Series, we ask pet owners about their unique pets. They answer the questions you might have if you’re trying to decide if chickens would make the perfect addition to your family.
This week, we asked Upstate chicken mom, Maggie, all about her backyard flock.
WAG: How did you decide to have chickens as a pet?
My first chickens were an impulse buy from Tractor Supply Company. I was living with my mom on the farm I’d grown up on. I prefer to have ethically sourced animal products, and how much more certain could I get than raising them myself?
WAG: Where did you get them from?
My first birds came from Tractor Supply Company. Then I got some from a local hatchery. The last several I’ve bought from reputable breeders.
WAG: What do they eat? Is the food hard to find?
Manufactured chicken food is fairly easy to come by. It’s sold at most “farm stores”. They also love “people food”, but treats should only be given in moderation so their diet doesn’t become unbalanced. Mine love some frozen watermelon on hot days!
WAG: What is the hardest part of caring for the chickens?
As a rental rule, chickens are really quite easy to care for. They do require regular checks for things like parasites or injustices or infection. When something like that shows up is when things can get tricky. Finding a veterinarian that treats poultry can be really difficult, if not impossible so you may end up having to do wound cleaning or administer medication yourself.
WAG: When you travel, what special accommodations do you need to make?
Traveling with a pet chicken or two is not unheard of. For most people that wouldn’t be an option, though. It’s very beneficial to have local friends who are experienced with chickens and will take care of your flock while you’re away.
WAG: What would you tell someone who wants to keep a flock?
The first thing I would say is to make sure your local municipality allows the keeping of poultry, and what the specifications are. Many people have had the heartache of being forced to give up beloved pets because they weren’t allowed to have them and had failed to check. The other thing I would emphasize is to make sure your chickens living quarters are predator-proof. It’s more pricey to build that way, but worth it.
WAG: What has surprised you about Chicken ownership?
The thing that surprised me the most about having chickens was how big their personalities are! I never would have expected all their individual quirks or to get so attached.
WAG: What do love and or hate about chicken ownership?
There’s something peaceful about just hanging out with my girls and watching them scratch around and forage. I also really enjoy knowing that some of my food is being ethically sourced from happy, healthy chickens and that my children are growing up being a part of that. The only part that I’ve really disliked has been losing birds to predators. I lost four babies to a hawk last year and two to a fox.
WAG: What do chickens do for fun?
Chickens, like most birds, like things that are shiny or colorful so keeping things in their coop or run for them to play with, is always a great idea. They also really like to perch and will sit on the highest thing they can find, so giving them lots of places to hang out and see from different vantage points is good for them. And of course, they love to forage.
WAG: Where do they sleep?
Unless you have house chickens, your chickens will most likely be sleeping in a coop. They will put themselves to bed at dusk and will be ready to be let out when you get up in the morning. And just like humans, the younger birds like to stay up late and party and will end up going to the coop later than the adults.
WAG: Are the chickens house trained?
I’ve actually never heard of a house trying to chicken. People do keep chickens as house pets though using chicken diapers! Yep, it’s a thing.
WAG: Do they have any sibling pets and do they get along?
We have three dogs, a Labrador, an American bulldog, and a German Shepherd/husky mix. The Labrador and the bulldog are perfectly fine with the chickens and we’ll hang out in the yard with them when they’re out. Unfortunately, my husky/German shepherd mix is a chicken killer so they are not friends. It has taken a good bit of work to make a coop and run strong enough that he cannot get in but we seem to have succeeded and he seems to have started leaving them alone for the most part.
Thank you, Maggie, for answering all these questions that have been “pecking” away at our brains!
If you think a poultry type pet is right for you, the Humane Society website has some great info about where to look for chickens that need homes.
Did all your questions get answered? Let us know in the comments if you think keeping a backyard flock is in your future!