Raising chickens as pets is becoming more and more popular. Luckily, there are numerous chicken breeds suitable for life in a backyard of small house. Finding the best chickens to raise as pets is a matter of personal tastes and expectations.
Unlike their counterparts that come with great productivity, some choices for pet chickens won’t produce lots of eggs for you and your family members. But they will provide you with companionship, entertainment, and perhaps even a little pest control – all from your very own backyard!
If you’re looking for the best chickens to raise as pets and are wondering which ones would be the best for your situation, continue reading for our top ten tips on choosing the perfect pet chicken breed.
Is it Legal to Keep Chickens as Pets?
Before buying chickens as pets, please research local regulations. While the desire to keep chickens in urban households has become more popular, it’s not legal in some jurisdictions. Some communities have passed ordinances that prohibit them completely, or at minimum restrict the ways they can be legally kept.
It’s All About Behavior
If you’re going to be living closely with your chickens, it’s important to pick a breed that has the right temperament for you. And, if you have children, you don’t want to pick a breed that’s prone to aggression, or that might peck the children.
Likewise, if you have other pets, such as cats, rabbits, or dogs, you might want to consider breeds that are known to get along with other animals.
Look for Docile Chicken Breeds
The best chickens to raise as pets are usually also suitable for children. If you’ve chosen to raise a breed that isn’t suitable for children like those traditionally raised as cockfighting breeds, you might also want to get some chickens known for their good temperaments.
Although gambling on chicken fighting aka cockfighting is now illegal in most countries, certain chicken breeds were raised for fighting for many generations. Many of those fighting breeds retain some aggression many generations later.
Some of the aggressive chicken breeds to avoid:
- Buckeye: primarily known for meat and egg production it has some aggressive tendencies
- Faverolles: watch out for the roosters (males)
- Wyandotte: sometimes the roosters are aggressive, especially if you have multiple roosters
- Cubalaya: cockfighting is illegal in most countries, but some of the aggressive traits remain
- Modern Game: this breed is sometimes territorial, especially the roosters,
- Old English Game: a very appealing breed raised for showmanship, but with aggressive character
Bantam breeds are also a good choice if you’re living in a small space and are some of the best chickens to raise as pets. You’ll get all the benefits of a full-sized breed but in a much smaller package. Many bantams are among the most affectionate chicken breeds.
These true bantams usually make great chicken pets are friendly chicken breeds:
- Belgian d’Anver Bantam: a small breed with no full-size version, they make great pets
- Cochin Bantam: fluffy feathers, and an easy-going demeanor, best backyard chickens quiet
- Rhode Island Red Bantam: small, friendly chickens that are good egg layers, and are tamable
- Barbu d’Uccle: light egg layers, but among the friendliest chicken breeds
Bantam roosters might not crow as loudly; as some of the larger breeds, but still might not be appreciated by close-by neighbors when kept in an urban environment.
Pick Smaller Chicken Breeds
Smaller breeds of chicken are less prone to aggression than larger breeds. They also don’t take as long to mature, so if you’re just getting your first few chickens and want to see them as pets a little sooner, a smaller breed is a good idea.
Smaller breeds also take less room, which is another advantage if you live in a house with a small backyard. Of course, they usually cost less to buy and to keep!
What is the friendliest chicken to have as a pet?
Some good examples of smaller breeds include Silkies and Polish. They are also very popular breeds raised for exhibition in chicken shows at fairs and festivals.
Among the best chickens for beginners:
- Silkies: suitable as pets, a calm chicken breed, good for children, live up to 9 years
- Plymouth Rock: this breed does well in colder climates
- Polish: ornamental chicken breed, friendly, make great pets, live 8 years or more
- Speckled Sussex Buff Orpington: an older chicken breed, good egg layer living around 8 years
Plymouth Rock chickens are one of the larger breeds but maintain popularity with backyard aviculturists.
And if you’re thinking of buying Silkie chickens, Oak Abode has a nice article about considerations to become familiar with before making the purchase. Their fluffy feathers attract a lot of attention, but they do have some drawbacks. They are not the hardiest of chickens to keep as pets.
Bantams and small chicken breeds are highly sought after by keepers looking for the best chickens to raise as pets.
If you are looking for pet chicken that are also great egg layers, consider the Australorp, an Australian breed that is a dual-purpose breed that has held the world record for egg production.
Think About Looks
Some breeds of chicken are absolutely stunning, and others have really unusual looks. If your main goal is to have beautiful and visually appealing pets, then you’re in luck.
There are lots of different breeds that have really unusual and beautiful feather patterns. You might also want to consider getting some breeds with ornamental crests on their heads. As an added bonus, some breeds are known for having colored eggs, which could be a really fun novelty to have in the house!
Some Easter Egger breeds that fit the fun-to-raise bill:
- Ameraucanas: this breed developed in Chile lays blue eggs, beginner friendly and lives up to 8 years
- Araucanas: this breed was developed in America and lays blue or green eggs living up to 8 years
Keep in mind that the color may vary depending on the season and the age of the bird, so it’s not something that happens every time!
Watch Out for Special Needs
Some breeds are known for having special needs, such as a larger number of hours of light per day and a special type of diet. If you’re not willing or able to provide your breed with these things, they won’t make great pets.
An example of a breed with this type of special need is the Silkie. Silkies are among the best chickens to raise as pets.
Some breeds also require special facilities, such as the Cochin and Brahmas. Cochin and Brahma chickens are very large, so unless you have the facilities to house them appropriately, they won’t make great pets.
If you want to allow your chickens to free-range then a flighted chicken may not be the best choice.
Chickens also have natural predators like fox, coyote and some breeds of popular dogs. Consider whether you have the ability to protect your pet chickens for these dangers.
Don’t Forget the Feathers
It’s important to remember that chickens are birds that have feathers! If you don’t want feathers all over your backyard, certain breeds are better than others.
If you want to allow your chickens inside, remember that chickens need a lot of space. If you put them in a small apartment or a small room, they’re going to get very frustrated. A back porch, indoor garden, or fenced backyard might be better alternatives.
And you also shouldn’t keep your chickens in an area with a lot of noise like a busy city street, pedestrian walkway, train track, or airport flight path. Chickens are easily startled by loud noises.
Make Sure You Have the Right Facilities
Not all breeds of chickens are good pets. In fact, some breeds of chickens don’t make good pets at all. If you live in an apartment or a highly populated urban area, you should probably avoid breeds that don’t do well in those types of environments.
Your local chicken producer is a great source of information about the different traits, pros and cons for various breeds. They can help you find the best chickens to raise as pets.
If you have a backyard, on the other hand, almost any breed of chicken is going to work as a pet. You’ll need to make sure you have a coop for them, along with a pen.
Your coop should be well-ventilated, secure from predators, and have ample room for the chickens to move around and stretch their legs.
Bottom Line About Keeping Chickens as Pets
If you’re looking for the best chickens to raise as pets, there are tons to choose from.
You can get great companions out of a huge variety of chickens, and the best part compared to dogs and cats kept indoors is you don’t have to clean up after them since you’ll be keeping them outside!
Chickens have few defenses against predators. Some do fly better than others. Consider purchasing or building a suitable chicken tractor so your new pets have a place to rest in the evenings safe and secure. If you haven’t heard the term – chicken tractor – it’s a chicken house rather than a mechanical farm implement.
It’s important to choose the best chickens to raise as pets for your situation, so you can enjoy your chickens for years to come. It will be better for the chickens too!
If you settle for run of the mill breed, and lose interest, the chickens will suffer the consequences. Please take your time and choose wisely.