Pet Chickens




Hopefully this site will help to show the joys and ease of keeping chickens. 

Chickens are fun and easy to raise from chicks. Be sure to scroll down to see the photos of chicks. By getting them as new hatchlings, the chicks will more easily bond with their human. My chickens are always eager to see me. As soon as I enter their area they come up to me and I can pet them. If I sit in a chair near them, in a short time, several will sit on my lap. They like to get petted and stroked, and generally are wonderful pets to enjoy. I kiss their faces and stroke their combs. Even the huge rooster, Fang, loves to sit and nap in my lap.

Besides chickens being such wonderful pets, they provide fresh eggs. These chickens have a big yard and all kitchen leftovers are eagerly accepted. We know what the chickens are eating, they are not stressed and so they create great eggs.

Eggs are an excellent protein. They can be eaten in so many ways and used in cooking and baking. Supermarket eggs have become so expensive and come from stressed out, antibiotic fed chickens who never get out of their cages. Our chickens get kitchen scraps, organic produce from our garden, treats and lots of love. For taste as well as nutrition, home grown eggs are far superior than store-bought.

There are many breeds to choose from. The different breeds determine what colors the chickens will be, what color the eggs will be, the temperment of the chicken, and if the hens will sit on their eggs to hatch out new chicks or not. If you do not plan on butchering your roosters, then it is not advisable to get hens that like to "roost" and hatch out their eggs. Most breeds have had the "roosting" urge bred out of them, and so they do not like to sit and hatch out chicks. But some breeds, although they don't brood and want to sit on eggs, may get "broody". A broody hen is very irritable and will forgo much eating and drinking to set on her eggs whether they are fertilized or not. There are ways to stop a hen from setting, this should be done as soon as you see the signs of a boody hen. This subject is covered elsewhere on this site.

This site will discuss several different breeds that are commonly sold in the United States: Rhode Island Reds, Buff Warpingtons, Australorpes, Americunas, Plymouth Bard Rocks and Sex Links.

In picking out chicks, you want to buy 'Pullets' as opposed to 'Straight Run". Pullets are baby hens and may cost a little bit more than Straight Run chicks.  'Straight Run' means that there is a 50% chance you will get males. But there are no guarantees, they say that even when buying Pullets, you have only a 65% chance of getting a female.

These odds change when you buy Sex-Links. These chicks can be sexed by their color at the time they hatch. Sex-Links are a blend of 2 different types of chickens. The Sex-Links we have are a combo of White Leghorn chickens and Rhode Island Red chickens. They are bred to produce the best layers, and buying them as Pullets (baby hens) you are assured of a 95% chance of getting all hens. They have light brown feathers, some have more white feathers than others. They are superior layers, laying very large dark brown eggs. They have a better temperment than a Rhode Island Red hen, meaning that they are friendier and more pet-like if handled when young.

Chicks are bought from feed stores or from chick hatcheries when they are a day old. They are hatched by heated machinery and the newly hatched chicks are put on conveyer belts and dried and then sorted and boxed for shipment. They are hatched and shipped and arrive the next day through the U.S. Postal Service and arrive at either the post office where you pick them up, or to the local feed store.

The tiny chicks in the photos are only a few days old. I bought them the day after they were hatched. I kept all twelve of them in tupperware bins in the bathroom. A red heat lamp is suspended about five feet overhead to keep them warm. See the photo in Cage Design section.

Chicks are active and curious creatures. Their hearing and eyesight are excellent. Handle them gently, they are newly hatched creatures. They will get to know your voice and you can make a clicking sound to let them know you are bringing them fresh food or treats. As adults the roosters make a clicking sound to let the hens know they have found some tasty bug or treat, so they may have some instinct for a clicking sound and respond favorably to that.

Chicks eat a chick "mash" or "crumble" commercial feed that is created to fill the growing needs of new chicks. You can choose to use chick food with or without antibiotics in it. Chicks can get different diseases, so for the first few months, we chose to feed them the food with antibiotics. It was out of their system long before they were laying eggs. They can also become ill from the stress of being hatched and then put in boxes and mailed across the country. It's suggested that for the first week you add a few teaspoons of sugar to their water to keep their blood sugar levels up. As with hummingbirds and human babies, NEVER substitute honey for the sugar.

They require fresh water at all times. It is best to use waterers that do not leak or spill over because wet chicks can quickly become ill and their illness can infect the other chicks.
Chicks start laying when they are about 4-5 months old and lay best when temperatures are between 45-80 degrees F.

Australorp Rooster Chick

Australorpes are an Australian breed. This is a LARGE breed bird. This is a photo of Fang as a chick, you can see him as an adult on the page Rooster Magic.
As chicks, Australorps have some white on their pre-feathered fluff, but as they grow, the white disappears and they soon become a totally black bird. They are calm and friendly but grow to be very large. If one or more of your Astralorp pullets turn out instead to be roosters, and you also own other breed hens, the large roosters will injure the hens as they try to mate with them. This causes much stress and injuries for the hens. My suggestion would be to get breeds of similar sizes.

Australorpes lay a medium large brown egg.  We bought 2 Australorpes because years ago I had hens of this breed and enjoyed them very much. They were big birds, but friendly even though I got them as adult hens. They were dependable layers. Remember that when you get them as chicks, you are never assured you will get hens. Both of the chicks I got as "pullets" ended up being roosters and we had to give one away. We still own the other Australorpe and named him Fang. Fang is HUGE, more than twice the size of the hens. When he mates with them his feet shred their feathers and their backs. I've had to separate the injured hens from the rest of the flock.

Fang is as friendly as a dog and people are always surprised that we can walk up to him and pick him up. He tolerates hugs and kisses and I think he enjoys them. He will sit on my lap and fall asleep as I pet him. We haven't yet given him away because he has such a strong personality and presence and is so tame, we've grown very attached to him. At present, we keep both roosters away from all the hens, giving the girls a chance to heal.  

Buff Orpington Chicks

Buff Warpinton chicks are a breed that originally came from England. They remain this "buff" yellow/orange color when they are adults. They are a mellow breed, very friendly and sweet animals. They are a medium size hen.

Jerry works with guys who used to be ranchers and farmers. These guys highly recommended Buffs, saying they were a good bird with good personalities.            When I went to the feed store to pick out my chicks, the people working there praised Buffs as great hens, dependable layers, great personalities. So I came home with 3 Buffs and HOORAY, they turned out to all be hens. It is true, the Buffs are very nice hens, they enjoy sitting on my lap and being petted. When I sit in a chair in their presence, they will fly up and stand on my thigh, cuddle under my arm and they enjoy being petted. They are dependable layers.

Buff's lay a pale brown large egg.

Americana Pullet - Similar to Araucana Chickens

Ameracuna chickens are similar to Aracuna chickens. They are a wild looking bird with fuzzy feathers that extend from their cheeks. This fuzz was so different that I called both Ameracunas "Wolfette" because they reminded me of a wolfman.
They also have eyeliner that looks Egyptian.

When they are full grown, they are good fliers. They are smart birds and very friendly and mellow. We had not planned on getting any of this breed, but they were so pretty, last minute I picked up two of them.

They developed into beautiful, multicolor hens. Their comb is small and gathered similar to a red chunk of cauliflower. Instead of red wattles that hang from the cheeks of most hens and roosters, these birds have furry faces.

Their ability to fly led to their quick demise. They flew over the chicken yard fence and a bobcat had then for breakfast. This happened just before I attempted to clip one of their wings which would have kept them in the yard.

This breed as well as the Araucana hens are well known for laying "Easter Eggs". The color of their eggs are a green and blue color. Their eggs, when put into a carton with the various browns of the other eggs, make a delightful and artful display of edible orbs. 

Plymouth Bard Rock Pullet

I had always wanted Plymouth Bard Rock hens. They are a beautiful chicken, with black and white herringbone feathers.
I got two of these "pullets", but instead, one turned out to be a rooster. Guido can be seen full grown on the page Rooster Magic. These chickens are not as friendly as Buff Warpingtons and Sex Links, but they are not a mean chicken. Guido is a beautiful rooster, although he is small. He is very gentle when taking treats from my palm.

The Bard Rock hen gets along well with the other hens, but is not as friendly to humans although she received the same handling as the other girls did. She is the first one out of the coop in the morning, and the last one to go within the coop in the evening. She does not like to be held and has not flown up to sit on my lap or shoulders.

Guido is much smaller than Fang (the Australorpe) and is bullied by Fang, but Guido holds his own and is not in danger. We keep the roosters separate from each other, divided by some fence. Guido can fly but he stays near the hens.

Bard Rocks lay a small/medium size egg that is a light brown color with a pinkish hue. 

Red Sex-Link Chick

Red Sex-Links are a hybrid breed. One parent is a White Leghorn, the other parent is a Rhode Island Red. Sex-Links also come in other colors such as White and Black. These birds are a blend of 2 great laying breeds. They lay lots of dark brown eggs and they do not "set" on the nest, so they lay eggs for longer periods of time.

A benefit of Sex-Links is that as day-old chicks they can more easably be sexed so you know if you are getting a pullet or a cockrel. They do this sexing by the color of the chick. There is a 95% chance when you buy a Sex-Link pullet, you are getting a pullet (baby hen) and not a cockrel (baby rooster).

Sex-Links are a gentle breed, and very friendly. They enjoy human company. It was a Sex-Link who helped my friend's 14 year old daughter to overcome her fear of chickens. She had been attacked by a chicken at one time and at first she didn't even want to get near to a chicken. Soon she was holding one of my full grown Sex-Links and even named her Carmela. Carmela liked to get cuddled. Carmela had more white feathers than red so she had a caramel color. My other Sex-Links are reddish in color but equally as friendly.