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Do Poultry Make Good Pets?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 21, 2024
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The idea of pet poultry such as chickens, ducks, or geese might seem odd to some people, but some farm birds can actually make great pets in the right situation. In addition to being an unusual conversation piece, pet poultry can also be a productive addition to the household. Hens, for example, will produce eggs, and a roving team of chickens or geese can help fertilize a garden, eliminate pests, and till the soil. As a general rule, pet poultry should live outdoors, although it is possible to house train farm birds.

Poultry is a generic term used to refer to domesticated birds which are bred for their eggs and meat. Ducks, peacocks, chickens, guinea fowl, geese, and turkeys are all classified as poultry. Not all poultry is suitable for adaptation as a pet. Small birds like ducks and chickens make good potential companions, while geese and turkeys are less advisable. Both peacocks and guinea fowl are noisy and messy, making them poor choices for pets.

In terms of chickens, female chickens make the best pet poultry. In addition to producing useful eggs, female birds tend to be more docile, trainable, and agreeable. Roosters can become aggressive, hostile, and difficult to handle. In addition, roosters are loud, which is not always appreciated by the neighbors. People who want to keep pet poultry may also want to seek out smaller breeds such as bantams. Bantams also tend to be intelligent birds, and they may offer more in the way of companionship.

Both female and male ducks would make acceptable pet poultry. However, duck poop tends to be messy, so ducks should ideally be kept outdoors and far from the house. Ducks also appreciate being able to splash around in a pond or kiddie pool. When keeping ducks as pet poultry, try to get them young so that you can imprint yourself on the ducklings, enforcing your role as an authority figure.

Geese and turkeys tend to be large and aggressive. While some people do keep pet geese successfully, the birds are also kept as attack animals in other parts of the world. If geese are acquired at a young age and handled frequently, they can sometimes make good pets, but this is not guaranteed. It only takes one bite from a vindictive, angry goose to decide that geese might play a better household role as dinner.

When keeping poultry as pets, you should consider whether you have enough room and time for the pet poultry. Poultry prefer to live outdoors, not indoors, which makes pet poultry unsuited to apartments and most city living situations. Birds like to wander, and they can be destructive, so you may need to fence off delicate plants or set aside a specific area for the birds.

At night, the animals will need to be secured from predators, which means that you will need to build a coop or shed for the poultry to roost in at night. You should also plan on dedicating some time every day to feeding and cleaning up after pet poultry, and you may want to consider whether or not you can find someone to care for your pet poultry when you go on trips.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are poultry suitable for small backyard spaces?

Poultry can be suitable for small backyards, but space requirements vary by species. Chickens, for example, generally need about 10 square feet per bird in an outdoor run. Adequate space is crucial for their health and well-being, preventing issues like stress and aggression, as noted by poultry experts.

Can poultry be kept as indoor pets?

While traditionally outdoor animals, some poultry enthusiasts keep chickens or ducks indoors with proper accommodations, such as diapers and designated living areas. However, this is not the norm and can pose challenges in terms of hygiene, space, and the birds' natural behaviors, which are better suited to an outdoor environment.

Do poultry require a lot of care and maintenance?

Poultry require daily care, including feeding, providing clean water, and collecting eggs. They also need regular coop cleaning to prevent disease. According to the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, a clean and dry environment is essential for poultry health, necessitating weekly bedding changes and coop maintenance.

Are chickens friendly and interactive pets?

Chickens can be very social and interactive, often enjoying human company. Their personalities vary, with some being quite affectionate. Regular handling from a young age can help foster a bond between chickens and their owners, making them more amenable to interaction and potentially delightful companions.

What are the benefits of keeping poultry as pets?

Keeping poultry offers numerous benefits, including a supply of fresh eggs, natural pest control, and the joy of watching their behaviors. They can also contribute to sustainable living practices by providing compostable waste and helping with food scraps. The emotional bond and educational value for families are additional perks of poultry keeping.

Is it expensive to keep poultry as pets?

The cost of keeping poultry varies depending on the setup and number of birds. Initial expenses include housing, fencing, and feeders. Ongoing costs cover feed, bedding, and veterinary care. While there are upfront investments, backyard poultry can be cost-effective over time, especially with the benefit of fresh eggs reducing grocery expenses.

AllThingsNature is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a AllThingsNature researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon15464 — On Jul 12, 2008

Just after reading this, I went out to my chicken coop, and my rooster attacked me! I have had chickens for 13 years, but I have only had 2 roosters that have done this! My hand has a half inch gap in it and it is swollen. The impact of the bird's attack actually threw out my shoulder as well. As I had been leaning down to get a water bucket, he just missed my face! Anyone considering chickens for young children should really monitor rooster behavior constantly. If the rooster appears to be eating on the ground, circling you, or starts strutting, be wary. Usually staring at the bird discourages him, but if the rooster shows any aggressive behavior toward humans, it is probably time to bring him to the butcher, before someone gets hurt!

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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