If you want to raise chickens primarily as pets, there are many things to consider. After all, you’ve built or bought that sweet coop, arranged all the accessories in it, and now it’s time to pick which breeds to occupy this amazing space.
Picking the right breed of chicken is important since you want the right disposition and characteristics tailored for your own personal tastes.
After all, it can be really frustrating to deal with a non-friendly or aggressive chicken every day. To avoid such issues, selecting the right chicken breed is helpful.
In this article, you can find all the essential information about selecting the best chicken breeds as pets. Let’s look at a few points to consider when choosing which chicken breeds.
What Are The Characteristics Of The Best Pet Chicken Breeds?
Remember that not every chicken breed is the same. It merely means that along with considering the egg and meat output of your chicken breed, you must consider its nature and behaviors as well.
For instance, you should consider how will your chicken breed interact with other chickens and people.
In a perfect scenario, a friendly chicken would have good behavior with all the chickens of your flock. Moreover, it should be able to stand up for itself if other chickens start attacking it, which prevents injury and health emergencies in chickens.
Every chicken has a unique personality. Some chickens are very loud and feisty while others are very docile. Others seem to have a sense of humor! All can be wonderful in their own way, as long as they aren’t aggressive to humans or other chickens.
Know that chickens will establish a literal pecking order amongst the flock, but it shouldn’t result in one party pecking the other to death. Cannibalism in chickens does happen, and you can read about the many forms of it here.
If a chicken gets an injury and starts bleeding, it’s part of chicken’s instinct to peck at the blood. If you see this, it’s disturbing but quite normal. There are many natural products that can be applied to the wound to stop this behavior.
If you see an abnormally intense and aggressive pattern like this, you may need to consider a different chicken. It does not necessarily mean getting an entirely new breed, but simply that particular chicken may, for whatever reason, have a predisposition for aggression.
In our flock, we have a variety of breeds and personalities and really enjoy the mix. Some are friendly, some aloof, some a bit mischievous (flying over the fence, stealing another’s bug etc.)
Most of the time there are no issues except for some occasional squabbling over who gets that tasty bug crawling in the grass. It’s very entertaining to throw a worm in the run and watch them all scramble for it!
Hens vs Roosters as Pets
Regardless of breed, roosters can be unpredictable. It’s literally just the nature of the beast. Generally speaking, they are more aggressive than their female counterparts. Of course, that is not always the case but it’s definitely something to keep in mind, especially if you have small children.
We have personal experience of how owning a rooster can go horribly wrong. We had one rooster in the group who was meant to be a flock protector. As adults, my wife and interacted with him daily and he seemed harmless; not friendly, but not aggressive either. He was one we purchased from a farmer as a part of a package deal, and was a mixed breed.
All the chickens stayed nicely in the pasture, free-ranging, and we didn’t have issues with them coming through the fence to our yard. One day when our daughter was just under 2 years old, she was walking near the fenceline of our pasture.
For whatever reason, completely unprovoked, this rooster flew over the fence that day and began attacking her. He went for her face with his spurs and powerful beak and by the time we ran to her, he had inflicted some serious damage below her mouth and above her eye, requiring a trip to the emergency room.
It’s been a few years since that day, but she has a small scar near her mouth to this day, and we haven’t owned a rooster ever since. There are many ways to avoid this type of scenario by setting up proper facilities, having him fully enclosed, etc. but we are perfectly happy with our hens so may not go that route again anytime soon.
We felt it important to share our story not to dissuade you from getting a rooster, but as a reminder to be prepared in the event you do decide to get one.
Roosters do come with a nice disposition and I’ve seen many of them in other chicken farmers flocks. If you’re looking for tips on selecting a good one, read this article.
Although hens can have their moments as well, it’s not likely you’ll have to worry about any violent attacks. But sometimes I wonder when I go out to feed them some treats if they are going to eat me as well!
Chickens of all kinds can be purchased at your local farm store or online. Many of the breeds below are found commonly in most areas.
There are many different chicken breeds that you can consider keeping as pets. Keep in mind that, for the purpose of this article, we are discussing breeds more as their potential as pets than for egg or meat potential.
Having said that, many of the following breeds are simply great all-around chickens! We based the article on our own research and from personal experience with the breeds. Okay, without further delay, here are some of the most popular chicken breeds as pets that we like:
Silkies are easy to keep as pets due to their size and temperament. They have soft, fluffy feathers on a little body and are perhaps one of the most attractive chicken breeds. Silkies are appealing to children because they look like a stuffed toy. Other than the outside beauty, Silkies have a very calm and sweet disposition.
They appreciated being held and petted, which makes them a viable chicken breed to be kept as pets. Sure, egg production may not be their strong suit, but they make up for it in personality!
Sussex is one of the best chicken breeds as pets because they are large, and yet extremely friendly. Sussex roosters can weigh up to 8 pounds while the hens weigh around 6 pounds. There are no feathers on their feet, and they have a single comb. The mature Sussex chickens like to be held, stroked, and even talked to.
They often start following their pet owners because they are friendly and can get attached to you very quickly. A notable fact about Sussex chickens is that they can lay up to 250 eggs per year.
Plymouth Rocks are one of the most famous chicken breeds because they can be kept as pets for both eggs and meat. Plymouth Rock chickens have a vast number of variations like blue, buff, white, black, silver penciled and others. However, their color does not matter in the fact that these types of chickens are excellent in producing up to 280 eggs every year.
They have a friendly and calm nature and enjoy being in large open areas. Since this breed is prevalent, they are effortless to find. Hence, if you are looking for a friendly chicken breed to keep as pets, you should consider Plymouth Rocks.
There are a lot of varieties of the Orpington chickens; however, Buff Orpington is amongst the best chicken breeds for pets. Like the Sussex chickens, Buff Orpington chickens are also large but docile in nature. They also come in varying colors and are a dual-purpose breed.
Moreover, these chickens can produce over 200 brown eggs every year, which makes them a great egg producer, along with being excellent pets. In fact, the Buff Orpington chicken breed is so friendly that it is often called the ‘Golden Retriever’ of chickens. Experts often recommend that if your children play with the chickens, you should get Buff Orpington chickens because they are patient and harmless.
On a personal note – these are a favorite at our house for their calm, friendly disposition.
Rhode Island Red
Sweet, gentle, and laid-back nature of the Rhode Island Red chickens make it one of the best chicken breeds to keep as pets. Such chickens are one of the most manageable chickens to keep and maintain because of their friendly and docile personality.
Generally, Rhode Island Red chickens love people and are very comfortable with human contact. Moreover, they are friendly with other chickens of your flock and lay up to 220-300 eggs per year. If you already own a broody hen or an incubator, you can purchase Rhode Island Red fertilized eggs online.
The above five breeds are among our favorites…but you may also want to consider the following chicken breeds as well. After all, if you spend enough time with your flock each day, ANY chicken breed can make for a great pet.
More Chicken Breeds To Consider:
Chickens And Socialization
Many chicken breeds can make great pets, especially if they are socialized in the right way. Also, they are more intelligent than we give them credit for. If trained correctly, did you know that chickens can learn to be called by name? We discuss more on chicken names and socialization here.
Should Pet Chickens Be Kept In The House?
When we think of pets like cats and dogs, we envision them in our home. And this works out great for those species…but for chickens, it’s not a great idea to keep your chickens in the house as live-in pets.
Some people have their chickens in the home for parts of the day, adorning them with chicken diapers, which is very smart since chickens will simply poop whenever they want, wherever they want! This is completely fine and a way to enjoy your chickens in your environment.
But they need to have maximum access to grass, dirt, and the outdoors for a great portion of the day. This is much healthier for them, and gives them access to seeds, bugs, dust baths, to lay eggs, and engage in other chicken activities!
Also, at night they need a place to roost so returning them back to their coop is optimal. For a guide on setting up your chicken coop, read our free guide here.
The Last “Cluck”
Undoubtedly, chickens are rapidly growing in popularity as one of the most adored pets. These animals allow you to lead a life closer to nature and also have a good pet. The chicken breeds mentioned in this article are just a few of the most friendly, peaceful, and safe chicken breeds that you can keep for pets and eggs.
However, keep in mind that chickens have their own unique personality as well. It is possible that an individual chicken of a friendly breed may show some atypical characteristics, but it should not be a significant issue that you cannot solve through efficient chicken raising and training.