Acquired: Breeder (non-professional, hobby breeder),
Posted Apr 12, 2015
Growing up on a rural property, one of the types of pets we cared for on our small farm was chickens. I can’t remember exactly how many we owned, but due to factors such as temperature and wild animals, we had a number of them.
People often described our animals as ‘weird’ and not acting in the manner typical of that animal and our chickens were no exception. They actually acted more like dogs than chickens and it was quite a humorous site. When we took the food scraps to them in the afternoon they would be chattering away at our feet, flying up trying to get to the bag. They most definitely did not shy away from humans and we regularly picked them up to pat them and carry them around as if it was nothing. They weren't even scared of our other animals – they chased our cats and attempted to chase the horses but they would just look down and the little feathered aggressors with complete disinterest and continue gazing. There was one occasion where we forgot to lock them up at night and left the dog down the stables. We were so worried the next morning and raced down to see what the damage was but instead found our six chickens huddled in the feed shed with our rabbit (which lived not in a cage but in the stable block) and our dog – certainly an unusual sight to behold. Because our chickens led full and happy lives we had an abundance of eggs, so much so that we actually gave some away to our family and friends.
Unfortunately though, it was this trusting and friendly nature that made our chickens particularly vulnerable to foxes and other wild animals and no matter how much we tried to secure the cage, they always got in. In owning chicken’s is something you are looking into then you need to ensure you have done everything you can to protect them from predators because they themselves and pretty defenseless.
Another factor that let our chickens to an early death was the temperature. If the temperature is too cold then their little hearts will give out, so precautions need to be put in place to prevent this in the cooler months. For our chickens however, the more unbearable weather was the horribly hot Australian summers. We attempted to provide them with as much relieve as we could with a sprinkler system in their cage but sometimes this wasn't enough.
We had every one of our chickens from fluffy little chicks and handled them regularly, even occasionally taking them into school with us. This is most likely the reason for their friendly and social behaviour as adults. When they are young however, the factors that can harm them as adults are heightened and so insurance needs to be made into them having a heat lamp, a secure and safe place, and fresh and clean water.
As with any pet, their environment needs to be kept clean and their food and water fresh so if you don’t have time to do this regularly, then don’t own a chicken.
I have not known any other chickens to behave the way ours did, but I am sure if you provide them with love and socialise them safely and frequently from when they are young, yours will grow to be just as confidence and social as ours.