Chickens as Pets in the House

Are Backyard Chickens Allowed in Your House?

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You live in the city but you are a farmer at heart. You may wonder, “Are chickens allowed in my city?” In many towns and neighborhoods the answer is no. But some people just can’t leave the farm behind and end up with a chicken or two as a house pet. I have known a couple of people personally who had backyard chickens as pets, in their homes. Maybe you love chickens that much and you want them to be a bigger part of your life. What steps would you need to take to make chickens as pets a workable solution to getting fresh eggs daily in an area where you can’t raise livestock?

Sanitary Issues with Chickens as Pets

Excellent sanitary practices would need to be used to avoid the spread of disease commonly carried by chickens. Having chickens as pets means cleaning up after them. While there are some routine times that a chicken passes waste from its body, it also can happen unexpectedly. Can you house break a chicken like you can a puppy? I don’t know the answer to that. A puppy with proper training will outgrow the “accidents” of puppyhood, while a chicken may never stop pooping on the arm of your favorite chair. Chicken poop also can carry the bacteria and microorganisms responsible for serious illness. Salmonella, coccidia, and e-coli are a few organisms that are commonly found in chicken droppings, even if the chicken has no signs of illness. Keeping chickens as pets inside your home requires extreme care to clean up any droppings and disinfect the area.

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And then there is the fact that chickens as pets will also be chickens on your table and your furniture. On this particular point, I don’t see much difference between a chicken and a cat. Cats use the litter box, scratch and then jump on your bed to take a catnap. Chickens scratch around in the ground, eat bugs, and in the case of house chickens, jump on whatever they want. If you are a bit squeamish, this may not appeal to you.

Chicken diapers are available for the enthusiast who really just has to have a couple chickens as pets. These are typically small cloth sacks that are fastened to the tail and vent area of the chicken with elastic straps that wrap around the upper wing joint. And yes, they do need to be changed, as all diapers do.

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Other Factors

Do chickens need heat in winter?  Normally chickens are very cold tolerant. They grow a heavy insulating layer of downy feathers before cold weather sets in. If you normally keep your indoor temperature on the warm side for your comfort, your chicken may overheat or be uncomfortable. In addition, the chicken’s skin and feathers may dry out from the forced air heat that many homes use for heat. The use of a wood burning fireplace or stove brings in a whole other set of concerns if you are keeping chickens as pets in your home. Chickens have sensitive respiratory tracts and the smoky dry air from a wood burning stove may irritate their breathing passages.

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Why Bring a Chicken in the House

Often, a chicken kept as a house pet starts when the hen was being bullied, or was injured. As humans we feel bad seeing an animal that needs help and our softer side tells us to bring the chicken into the house for just a little while. But, those winning chicken personalities can sway us and it may be hard to take the chicken back to the coop! But then you have to ask yourself, who is ruling the roost here? I have had a chicken in our home for respite care and recovery from injuries and I think she enjoyed the extra TLC. I also think she was glad to get back to the coop and back to the business of being a chicken. Chickens like to be part of the flock. They are not solitary animals. In some chickens being separated from the flock is actually a stress producer. This may be a good reason to treat any issues with the chicken and return it to the flock as soon as possible. In some instances the chicken may be the lone survivor from a predator attack. In that case I would recommend either looking for more hens to join your survivor or possibly giving your hen to another chicken keeper, when it has recovered.

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Chickens as Easter Gifts

Often, in the spring, well meaning parents end up buying baby chicks as a gift for their children, not realizing the proper care involved and how quickly the chickens will grow up to be large. People don’t always check to see if they can have a chicken coop in their neighborhood or town and then try to keep the chickens as pets. Usually this does not last too long before a farmer or homesteader is contacted to try to rehome the Easter gift chickens.

Are there certain chicken breeds that would make a better house pet? Perhaps bantam breeds would make better chickens as pets. They are smaller and would create less waste and mess. Also, the more docile breeds, such as the the Orpington chicken, might be well suited for chickens as pets. I am not saying that you can’t successfully raise a chicken as a house pet. I am sure many people do this and have mastered the art of keeping it clean and sanitary while enjoying the fun antics and personalities of their avian house pet. Before going into any pet situation it is always best to research the care needs of the pet, if keeping the pet breaks any laws, and what you will do with the pet if things just don’t work out.

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Do you keep chickens as pets in the house? If so, share with us in the comments below, your tips and tricks for success.

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Comments
  • We have a chicken that stays indoors about 60% of the time She is a White Leghorn and very sweet and smart. She had been injured and then the others just would not leaveher alone when in the yard. So she came in to live with us which she seems to prefer she does free range with the others, My husband just built her her own coop and run and she spends the day out with her friend a Buff Orpington but will not stay out yet in coop. Rosie is a very spoiled and special chicken!

    Reply
  • I kept four bantams indoors. But somebody in the house gave me trouble and called aspca. They said they were a health risk and took them away . I was traumatized and very heartbroken . I still miss them

    Reply
    • Why did’nt you KILL THEM? I would NEVER EVER let anybody TOUCH my birds.

      Reply
  • We have our pet hen with us in our urban apartment.
    She is wonderful as a pet.she knows her name and sleeps with us.
    She is my little baby!almost 6 months with us.yes we have poop issues but we love har too much.we have a pet quail and they are always together.

    Reply
  • From time to time, usually days only. Chickens poop often smells really bad, otherwise, no big deal.
    BUT…
    I do have a dear sweet loving Pigeon I’ve kept loose in the house for several years now… for his protection, … he’s elderly, 16 and not as agile as when younger. Free to roam inside and outside but stays in the Family room (easy to clean). He has some preferred areas and I have a special mat in those spots for him (easy to clean). Really no different than a cat, dog, etc.
    . . I clean his messes as soon as discovered… stays clean, no odor = zero.
    My other Chickens and Pigeons live together peacefully in an outside aviary.
    However, those Pigeons Love to come inside to visit sometimes just minutes, sometimes all day. I do not let the Chickens in unless specifically invited.
    https://www.facebook.com/Simon-Pigeon-893980133982656/timeline

    Reply
  • My hen Myrtle is a sweetie. Her rooster mate died earlier this year. she started coming in my large dog door and would be in the living room in the morn when i woke up, wanting to go to the front yard to scratch all day. She became like on of my two dogs. Sitting in front of me while i ate, looking for free hand outs. We had to move to my mom’s house, built her a new coop but she didnt like it. She’s allowed to walk in the open patio door into my room, where she does poop[but we clean it] and one nite she hopped up onto my tall tv stand, which is her safe place, her new apt. She’s sweet, comes when i call her, loves craps of veggies, fruit, bread, and hangs out eating grass, flowers, and bugs most the day. She has US as her flock and I know she’s very happy. She calls out like a rooster in the morning [a lil confused lol], flutters down outta her apt [just a towel between some books and artpieces] She makes tons of happy noises and she’s now just one of the ‘dog pack’…just feathered. Luv Ms Mrytle!!!

    Reply

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