Pet Chickens – why chickens are the best family pet

Pet chickens are becoming increasingly popular. It is now pretty common for suburban homes across Australia to have a few pet chickens in the backyard. Chickens  give back way more than they take, which make them pretty unique. That’s why I think they deserve the title of the best family pet. They are relatively low cost to set up and maintain, require very little of your time each day and provide a whole lot of goodies that make your backyard vegetable patch more self sufficient.

I have compared pet chickens against four other popular pets – Dogs, Cats, Fish and Birds. This comparison is based on cost, time required and benefits (what they give back). The comparison is pretty crude, but I think it paints a pretty fair picture.

why chickens are the best family pet

Cost of pet chickens: Moderate

Setup costs: $200 – $1000

While there are a few setup costs, its pretty cheap to keep pet chickens. Average setup costs are between $200 to $500, however you could easily spend over $1,000 if you buy a large coop with all the bells and whistles. To break it down a bit more:

Chickens: Cost of purchasing chickens ($5 to $30 each), depending on age and breed

Coop: Cost of the coop, feeder and waterer can vary a lot from a cheap DIY to a brand new top of the range coop.

  • DIY from recycled materials: On one extreme, you could make your own coop for free from reused and materials.
  • DIY from purchased material: A solid homemade coop made from purchased materials could cost from $50 to $300, depending on the size and materials used.
  • Second hand: A good second hand coop can easily be found online for $50 – $150.
  • Brand new: A brand new coop could cost between $250 to $2000, depending on the size and materials used.

Ongoing costs: $240-$360

Feed, worming medication and other miscellaneous costs required to keep pet chickens in your backyard ($20-$30 per month)

Cost of pet chickens compared to other pets?

Pet

Setup costs

On-going

chicken

Chickens

$200 – $1000 $240 – $360 moderate icon
dog icon

Dogs

$500 – $6000

$300 – $2,500

high icon
cat icon

Cats

$500 – $3000

$300 – $1000

high icon
fish icon

Fish

$100 – $1000

$20  – $500

low icon
bird icon

Birds

$175 – $1300

$150 – $950

moderate icon

Time required to keep pet chickens: Low

Setup

There is a bit of setup time needed for pet chickens which often involves assembling or making the chicken coop, putting up fences and ‘chicken proofing’ the backyard.

Ongoing care and maintenance

Once everything is setup, pet chickens usually only require 5 minutes a day to  make sure they have plenty of food and water and to collect any eggs laid for the day. The coop also requires cleaning out every month or so which would take 30 minutes at most.

Benefits of pet chickens

Eggs

With 4 pet chickens, you are likely to get 2 or more eggs per day. That saves more than $10 a week on eggs. Not to mention that eggs from pet chickens are way better than any eggs you can buy from the shops, even compared to so called “free range” or “organic” eggs. Eggs from pet chickens are:

  • Highly nutritious:  Studies show that eggs from pet chickens are much more nutrient dense, with much higher amounts of good fats, vitamins and minerals.
  • Free from cruelty and bad stuff like antibiotics: You know exactly where your eggs come from  and what conditions your pet chickens are raised in. You know that your eggs come from happy, healthy, free ranging hens – that roam free in your backyard, eating bugs, grass and grain.

Fertiliser

Forget paying $20 a bag for manure or compost. Four pet chickens will easily give you that in a week and they even spread it out on the lawn and garden for you while they peck at grass and search for bugs. My lawn is luscious and green and I have never had to buy lawn builder. Our pet chickens also love to hang about under our fruit trees, which keeps them well fed and piled with fruit.

Weed and Bug control

Pet chickens love to snack on bugs, so you will never have a problem with lawn grubs or ant mounds. They also keep insects like grasshoppers at bay, that would otherwise be feasting on your vegetable patch.

Reduce waste

Between pet chickens and composting, you can pretty much reuse all your food waste. Food waste is usually about 5% of total household waste, which is pretty big drop in the amount of waste that would otherwise end up in landfill.

How does this compare to other pets

Pet chickens will never be as cute and cuddly as dogs or cats. Looking at it practically though, I think there is a pretty clear case for chickens to be crowned as the best family pet.

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