Chickens make wonderful pets that are beloved for their company and can also be great for laying eggs.
Where should my chickens live?
Before welcoming home a pet chicken, check with your council that keeping chickens is allowed in your area and if there are any regulations around where you place their coop. From just four-weeks of age, chickens can thrive on a farm or in your suburban backyard. Just make sure you provide enough space for them to stretch their legs and range freely during the day. Their shelter should also have plenty of perch space and nesting boxes for them to lay eggs. Whether you buy or build a chicken coop, it should provide ventilation, drainage and protection from the elements and potential predators with a wire-mesh base. Put your coop somewhere it can be warmed by the morning sun but doesn’t get too hot in the afternoon.
What do chickens need inside their coop?
Make sure the coop is thoroughly secure from predators that may attack from ground level or up above. The floor should be covered in an absorbent material like fibre, wood shavings or sawdust. Chickens go through a lot of water, so a normal bowl won’t cut it. Instead, try a poultry gravity drinker. You should also invest in a good chicken feeder so the cage doesn’t become littered with chicken feed. A balanced diet is essential for healthy, productive chickens. Ask your local Petbarn team member for the best premium poultry pellets and scratch mixes available.
Which breeds are best for company and for eggs?
If you want a chicken as a pet, then it’s important to hold and hand feed it daily from a very young age so that the two of you can bond. The Silkie is quirky looking, cuddly and has a great personality. Brahmas are big, calm and docile. Meanwhile the Cochin chicken is a fluffy breed that loves being held. Those three breeds will still lay between two and three eggs per week. As mentioned in our video above, Isa Browns and Wyandottes are also great for families. However if you’re looking for a good pet that lays four to five eggs per week, then a Sussex, or Australia’s national breed the Australorp, are good options. If you’re after something a little different, Araucanas are a breed that lay interesting blue eggs.
How do I encourage chickens to lay eggs?
Chickens start producing eggs at around 5 months of age. If you’re after good egg-layers, then Leghorns, Ameraucanas, Rhode Island Reds and Orpingtons should be considered. Place nesting boxes within the coop, layered with straw, so the chickens have a nice place to lay their eggs. To encourage your chicken to lay, place a fake egg inside the nesting box. Put your hen house in a position where it can be warmed by the morning sun, but doesn’t become too hot in the afternoon.
What do I do if my chicken is unwell?
Just like other birds, it can be difficult to see if your chicken is unwell. The easiest way to tell if your chicken is sick is if its droppings have changed consistency. If so, collect a fresh sample in foil and take it to your nearest Greencross Vets for testing.