Here at J&R Pierce Family Farm, I think it’s important to connect my readers with valuable insight from other experts. Today’s post is a guest post brought to you by Samantha Rainwater.
For some, chickens are more than just farm animals, they are beloved pets! Chickens are intelligent creatures that supply endless entertainment and companionship, are cheap to care for, and even have the added benefit of producing eggs.
Chickens may be a good alternative pet for someone who is allergic to pet hair—as long as feathers don’t bother you. These low-maintenance pets are climbing in popularity as people are starting to discover perhaps there is more to the chicken than just a farm animal.
Keeping chickens as pets does not necessarily mean you have to keep them inside your house—although some do. Many keep pet chickens outside near their gardens where the birds can hunt for pests and graze for treats. These birds love to explore and will thrive with some freedom around your property—and if you want to bring them inside occasionally, there’s no rule against it!
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8 Best Breeds of Chickens to Raise as Pets
Just as there are various breeds of dogs and cats, there are many types of chicken breeds, all with different attributes that differentiate them from the next. Choosing a breed—or breeds—that is right for your home will most likely come down to which traits you desire most in a chicken. Some breeds may be ideal due to their looks, for their egg-laying capacity, or for their temperament—along with other traits.
Here is more information on chicken breed behaviors, egg-laying capacities, and other things you might care to learn about.
Silkies are not your traditional looking chickens—as a matter of fact, they barely look like chickens at all. From first glance, these birds appear to have fur instead of feathers, giving them a fluffy look that starts around their feet and goes all the way to the top of their heads—like giant cotton balls!
Silkies actually just lack barbicels which are what generally hold feathers together, giving them their traditional feather shape; without barbicels, the feathers have no form and are free to move in any direction, similarly to fur.
Silkie chickens make great pets not only because of their unique look, but also because of their great personalities. These birds are known for their calm dispositions and friendly attitudes towards their owners when raised with care.
These birds tend to get along with any other flock members and generally do well around children as well. However, silkies only tend to lay around 100 eggs a year, a fairly low trend when compared to most other breeds, but for some, their attitudes and looks make up for what they lack in egg production.
If you’re looking for another unique-looking chicken to add as a pet, the Polish may be another good option. While not quite as funny-looking as the silkie, these birds still stand out in a crowd. Polish chickens can be identified by their large tuft found atop their heads. These tufts of feathers form due to a boney prominence that forms up from their skull. These feathery tufts make the chicken’s head look twice as large as it should be—giving you a welcomed smile any time you see one.
Polish chickens are a favorite among those in the show- and 4-H-chicken world due to their looks. These birds make great pets primarily because of their docile temperament and ease of handling—they don’t mind being held and carried around. These birds are another breed that are ideal for children because they are not likely to peck or cause any harm.
While their egg-laying production isn’t amazing, they do lay around 150-200 eggs a year which is decent for a pet chicken.
Australorps are beautiful birds with black and shiny coats—they almost have an iridescent look to them. These birds also have red combs and wattles—wrinkly, fleshy skin folds hanging from their necks—which stand out against the black feathers. Other than their neat-looking feathers, the australorp is structured like a traditional chicken of medium size.
Australorps make great pets because they are incredibly friendly birds—often considered the friendliest breed of chickens—although this is debatable and will vary from bird to bird. These birds also do well in smaller yards or coops, making them a good choice for someone with small chicken quarters. In addition to being friendly and well-mannered birds, australorps lay a decent number of eggs, averaging 250 a year.
4. Plymouth Rock
Plymouth Rock chickens are one of the oldest breeds still around today. These birds have beautiful black and white feathers and have a speckled look to them, generally with even amounts of black and white coloration. The combs and waddles found on the Plymouth Rock are always a bright red.
In addition, Plymouth Rock chickens are one of the most popular dual-breed chickens, meaning they are good egg layers and good for meat production—although they make great pets also!
These birds are good at adapting to different environments and living situations and do well as free-range birds. Plymouth Rocks are also known for being calm and docile, making them easy to handle. The egg laying ability of these chickens is considered excellent with an average of 280 eggs per year.
Brahmas are one of the largest breeds of chicken, but they are gentle giants when it comes to their owners and handlers. While they are large birds, their abundance of feathers makes them look even larger than they really are. Brahmas also have large and powerful wings, although their heavy bodies generally prevent them from doing any flying. Another distinguishing feature includes the extra feathers that can be found on their feet—they look like they’re wearing fuzzy boots!
Brahma chickens make great family pets because they’re good with all ages, despite their large size. The excess feathers and large bodies also make them winter hardy, so they can stay outside in the cooler months if needed. Brahmas are considered dual purpose chickens and are often raised for meat, but when kept as a pet, you can still enjoy their eggs—they lay approximately 150 eggs each year.
6. Jersey Giants
One bird that is even larger than the Brahmas is the Jersey giant, which is considered the largest chicken breed. Similarly to the Brahmas, these birds are gentle giants and make great pets. Jersey giants are most commonly seen in black, but they also come in white and blue. The black varieties have an iridescent green sheen to them, similar to the Australorp.
The Jersey giant makes a good pet due to its calm demeanor and docile nature, making them easy to handle. These birds are also able to adapt to different environments and can be kept in smaller enclosures, free range, or anywhere in between. These birds are also considered dual purpose and lay 150-200 eggs per year on average; their eggs are generally larger than most due to the birds’ large size. One drawback to raising Jersey giants as pets is that they will require more feed than an average chicken.
Orpington chickens come in a variety of colors, but buff-colored is the most common. Other colors that can be found are blue, black, white, and lavender. These birds have a fluffy look to them, and they are softer than many other breeds—but not as soft as silkies. While these birds are generally an average size, they look more plump than many other breeds.
Orpington chickens are a good choice for pets because of their friendly and docile nature. These birds are one of the lower-maintenance breeds, making them a popular choice among many.
Orpington varieties also lay a decent number of eggs at an average of 200 per year. One thing to consider, however, is that they are prone to being bullied by other flock members and will rarely stand up for themselves; they usually do best with other orpingtons or other breeds with a docile nature.
8. Rhode Island Red
Rhode Island Reds are a very popular breed of chicken, and while they are considered dual purpose—meaning they are kept for meat and eggs—they make great pets also. These birds have a rust-red color in their feathers—hence the ‘red’ in ‘Rhode Island Red’—and have bright red combs and waddles. This breed is so popular that many associate this look as the classic chicken image.
While these birds are not as uniform in terms of their personalities as many other breeds, you can find docile and friendly Rhode Island Reds. One thing to watch for is that the males may have more of a tendency to be aggressive, so the hens may make better pets. Even the hens that are not docile still tend to be friendly, just with a little more attitude. These birds are also considered excellent egg layers and will average 200-300 each year.
Benefits of Keeping Chickens as Pets
Not all pets are simply kept around for companionship—although there’s nothing wrong with that—some pets bring added benefits to your life. Chickens that are kept as pets bring additional benefits that most other pets cannot supply. If you need a few reasons to convince yourself to get pet chickens, keep reading!
If for no other reason at all, chickens make great pets simply because of how entertaining they can be to watch. These birds are highly intelligent, and they are prone to getting into mischief—a funny site to watch as long as they aren’t damaging anything important in the process.
For example, you may commonly find free-range chickens roosting in tree tops, vehicles, porch swings, or anything up off the ground—unless you clip their wings of course.
In addition, chickens that graze can often be found chasing bugs or small creatures, but they aren’t the most graceful birds. Chickens have a waddle to their walk, which only amplifies when they run, so a chicken on the hunt may bring a smile to your face.
One of the most obvious benefits to keeping chickens as pets is that your hens will most likely provide you with eggs. Depending on which breed or breeds you keep, you can expect anywhere from 100-300 eggs per year per hen—this is plenty for most families.
Pet chickens may even be more likely to produce high numbers of eggs as they are generally treated with more care and attention than farm chickens. Chickens in ideal living situations with plenty of food and nutrition (like these treats!) are more likely to reach their maximum egg-laying capacities.
While it may seem unsanitary, chicken poop makes great fertilizer for your garden. The waste that comes from chickens is high in nitrogen which will benefit most plants. To effectively use chicken waste as fertilizer, you will want to compost it.
This can be done in an outdoor composting pile, a composting barrel, or within the chicken coop itself with the use of the deep litter method—a bedding setup which safely composts chicken waste without having to transport it to a separate location.
While raw chicken waste may burn or damage plants due to the heavy levels of nitrogen, once composted, the waste should be perfect for benefitting plants without causing them harm. Composting the waste also makes it safer by killing harmful bacteria—which is why we can use it on our crops.
If you have a garden—or gardens—your pet chickens will make great helpers when it comes to cleaning up at the end of the season. Once crops have been harvested, you will be left with plants and possibly some weeds that will need to be removed before the next growing season starts.
If you set your chickens loose in these areas, they are sure to clean up plant life that needs to be removed—they’ll at least lessen your load. This activity not only benefits the gardener, but it can be an enriching and fruitful task for the chickens as well—they get a few good meals out of it!
Chickens are also helpful in the garden and around your property because they eat insects and other pests that we don’t always want around. Chickens are omnivores, and they will catch and eat insects of all sizes, mice, spiders, and even snakes on occasion.
So there you have it – what are you waiting for? There are plenty of good reasons to consider raising chickens, so get your coop built or ordered and hop to it!Try Audible Plus
Samantha Rainwater is a full-time business owner and recent mom who spends her free time writing. Her degree in Biology gives her a background in science, which she likes to apply on her small hobby farm. Writing about her experiences is one of her passions, and she finds joy in sharing her experiences with others.
Want to learn more about farming? Be sure to take a look at these other articles.
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- 6 Absolutely Tantalizing Radish Recipes You Need to Try Tonight
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