Let me introduce our gorgeous city chickens: Princess, Singapore and Sunflower. Singapore is the black one, still occasionally called “he” although reliably proving the opposite every morning. Sunflower (on the left) has brown feathers, lays biggest eggs and is first in the pecking order – meaning she is the boss! Princess is our daughter’s darling, brown too, but laced with more white feathers than Singapore.
How it all started?
For quite a while, our kids were asking if they could have a pet, as most kids do. We’ve tried to settle for a fish, but “we can’t play with a fish!” was the answer. Fair enough. For a dog or a cat we neither have time nor space. Children usually promise to help and take care of pets, but as soon the novelty wears out, they become parents’ full time responsibility. So we needed an easy care pet that stays outside and can be left on its own for a few days when we are away.
After months of thinking and debating it dawned onto me: pet chickens! On our last year’s trip to Europe, the kids really enjoyed playing with little chickens at grandparents’. Feeding the big ones and collecting the eggs was fun too. And the eggs were EGGcellent.
Keeping pet chickens has many benefits:
- Fresh and tasty eggs with a deep yellowy –orange coloured yolk
- Cheap to keep
- Simple to care for
- Eat kitchen scraps and leftovers – best composting system
- Produce top manure for the veggie garden (needs to be composted first)
- Chickens are sustainable pets
- Kids love to feed them and to collect the eggs
- Numerous psychological benefits for kids as with any other pet
- If everything properly set up at the beginning, need only 10-15 min of your time daily
- Pet backyard chickens are a lot of fun!
Our chickens came from the kinder our daughter attends. Just as I started searching for a place to buy them, they had a chicken hatching program: the eggs that are about to hatch are delivered in the incubator and kids care for the chickens the next ten days. Afterwards they are either given away for free or taken back to the farm. Good intentions, but would be even better if the program has the mother hen sitting on the eggs. It would be a great deal more natural.
Keeping city chickens: some points to consider
If the idea of pet chickens appeals to you, there are few things to think about before getting them into your backyard. For the start check following:
- The first thing if living in a city is to confirm your city council allows chickens. Our council’s rule is six chickens maximum and no rooster.
- Do you have enough space: allow a minimum of one square meter per chicken and at least two chickens (they are social beings and don’t like to be alone).
- As with any other pet, there is responsibility of your pet chickens’ wellbeing: protecting them from the elements and predators, feeding them, keeping the area clean etc. After all, you want happy and healthy chickens.
- Will the chickens be close to the neighbors, would they object?
Have a tick for all the above? Great! The next step is research. Read a book or two on chicken keeping and search the Internet. Without going into too many details, you need to decide what breed to buy, where to buy, do you want day old chickens or point of lay (when they are about to begin laying, 5-6 months old) chickens etc. A book or a comprehensive web site will give you the idea about info you need.
I didn’t have any experience on keeping chickens other that feeding them and collecting the eggs as a little girl while on weekends at my grandparents’. All that is written here is coming from our experience and let me tell you, having chickens is really fun and rewarding! I meant to write about them earlier, but was waiting to see if they survive us :-)! There will be more about our city chickens in the future, meanwhile enjoy our chickens’ pictures: our city girls are mad about sunflower seeds!