Kids love having pets and parents love that pets can teach children responsibility, kindness and empathy. If you don’t already have a pet, it’s likely that your children are regularly pestering you about getting a dog or a cat or even a rodent, rabbit or guinea pig.
The pet that may not have immediately come to mind is the humble backyard chicken.
Keeping chickens as pets is a growing trend world-wide, and it’s not difficult to understand why this is the case. For some it may be the desire to get back to basics and being self sufficient, but for many people it’s the realisation that chickens make great company, are inexpensive to keep and contribute to the household financially with their daily supply of eggs and fertiliser for the garden.
We have kept chickens in our backyard for many years. Before our first son was born we discussed the idea of getting a pet. We ended up postponing this decision, as we really weren’t sure what we wanted. As both of us came from a farming background, we naturally got ourselves a couple of chickens not realising that these would be the pets that we were looking for all along!
You’ll find that chickens quickly become part of a family and are doted on by children. Chickens are inexpensive to purchase, inexpensive to feed and don’t need to be walked daily or require training! With around 270 eggs per bird in its first year from breeds such as Australorps, you can also look forward to delicious breakfasts and favour filled cooking.
We recently re-considered getting a dog or a cat for our children but realised, after talking with friends, quite what a commitment it would be in our already hectic lives! The number of dogs and cats that end up in animal shelters after being abandoned, just confirms that many families purchase a cute puppy or kitten not quite realising what they’re getting themselves into!
Our children have always been very taken with our flock, with a favourite morning activity including a visit to the chickens with the kitchen scraps and the chance to count the daily deposit of eggs in the straw filled nests.
While our birds are normally housed in a mobile chicken coop (great part of the permaculture process) we sometimes let them ‘free range’. Our son’s favourite chicken named ‘Opal’ loved being cuddled and would happily join us inside our home if we left the door open by mistake.
It won’t be long after getting backyard chickens, when you’ll find yourself with more eggs than you can use, happy, responsible children and yourself an advocate, ‘spreading the news’ of this amazing backyard pet.