This week’s exotic pet of the week comes to us from Liz in Texas, who has shared several pictures of just some of her backyard chickens. Chickens aren’t exactly exotic pets, but for most, they are more unusual than dogs and cats.
Liz has several back yard chickens at her Texas residence, in addition to two dogs, and a turtle. She started raising chickens a few years ago, and has had several layer hens over the past few years. Her chickens are free roaming in her backyard and lay eggs regularly and are a great addition to her family. With names like “Ann Rice” and “Ann Dumplings” (note the chicken puns), the chickens are an entertaining part of her family.
Backyard chickens for eggs is a growing interest for many city dwellers. They aren’t restricted to farms any more. Chicken care is fairly easy, provided you have the right shelter and feed available for your animals.
Liz has adopted all of her chickens from a very young age. Sex determination can be seen early on using a couple of differing methods, some more invasive than others. Hens are the preferred option, as they’re the ones that lay eggs, and the restrictions for roosters are greater in many cities.
When she adopted a few of her chickens, the weather was too cold for them to be immediately housed outdoors, so for weeks, the chickens were housed in none other than her family’s master bathroom. Heat lamps kept them warm, and a nest was made in the bathtub, protecting them from the outside elements and the other indoor pets. After the appropriate age, the chickens were moved to a small coop outside, still under the protection of the heat lamps, and they were given increasingly more access to the back yard.
Eventually, the family converted their old shed to a large chicken coop, with doorways, windows, and plenty of buckets to “roost”. Although her chickens had plenty of roosting opportunities, at least a few of them prefer to lay out in the yard, making every morning “Easter Morning” with the resulting egg hunt.
Chickens, like other animals, can have a wide variety of personalities, and some can be more aggressive than others. But, like other pets, early social training around children and other pets and family members helps to keep the chickens from becoming overly anxious or aggressive. Liz’s chickens, despite which breed she keeps, tend to all be generally calm and sociable, with little to no fighting between the brood.
Just recently, Liz spent several weeks training her calmer chickens to be handled by people, and she was able to take her chickens with her to a local street fair. The chickens were a highlight in the photo booth, with everyone wanting an opportunity to take a picture holding a chicken.
Regulations regarding chicken raising vary between cities, so do look up your state or city code regarding pets before considering chickens for pets. However, many cities are generally more accepting of a small (fewer than six) brood of hens, and many allow one rooster. There are often shelter regulations that state the coop must be a certain number of feet from the home or the neighbors home, they must be properly contained within the fence line, and they must not be a noise disruption (more of an issue with roosters than with hens).
Chickens can be great pets though, and you’ll be the most popular friend in town as you will often have more eggs than you can possibly eat! Thank you Liz for your pictures and for sharing your experience with keeping chickens as pets, and for allowing us to feature your animals as our PET OF THE WEEK!