While plenty of people think of chickens as animals they can eat, not everyone understands that they can be raised as pets. But just as with any animal, how you raise your chicken will help determine how friendly it is as an adult. Here’s how to raise your pet chicken:
The first few days
As soon as a chick’s feathers have fluffed up after hatching, it’s safe to start handling them. Getting a chick used to you is important at this stage. Baby chicks need a lot of sleep, and they can use this time to bond with you. Try cradling the chicks on your chest and gently stroking their heads. You can also read to them or tell them stories, since this helps them get used to your voice.
The early weeks
While chicks need their sleep, they also love to play. This can be a time for you to bond with birds, too. Some chicks enjoy following you around, and others will even learn their names and come when you call. If the weather is warm enough, you can even take the chicks outside for some supervised play. Make sure you don’t leave them unattended–young chickens are vulnerable to predators, and they also may accidentally wander away.
Transitioning to life outdoors
Young chicks should usually be raised indoors. But once they are about six weeks old, they’re generally old enough to stay outside. Make sure you have a secure coop that protects them from drafts and predators. Your pets might be a little anxious their first few nights–offering treats and continuing to visit and play with them will help them realize that their new coop is a safe place.
As you transition your birds to outdoor living, make sure that they still have plenty of opportunities for exercise. Some chicken coops have attached, covered runs to keep the birds protected. If your coop doesn’t have one, make sure your chickens have time to roam outside of the coop, too.
Taking care of your chickens through adulthood
Chickens can recognize their caretakers, and raising your birds from chicks means they’ll have plenty of time to come to trust you. And while some people grow bored of chickens once they reach adulthood, your adult birds will still look forward to seeing you. In many cases, they’ll come when you call them, and some people have even been able to teach their pet chickens tricks. Don’t forget to keep giving them cuddles–most chickens like to be held by people they trust.
In conclusion, while chickens might not be the first animals you think of when you picture pets, they can form bonds with you and be very fun to raise. And if you’re on a budget, they’re an even better choice. Aside from the initial investment in a coop, chickens are very inexpensive to take care of. If you’re ready to add some new feathery friends into your life, pick out a few chicks today!