I know a lot of people are contemplating whether or not to get chickens these days, and one of the factors involved is often how will the children in the family react and interact with the new additions to the household. I thought I’d offer some thoughts on our experience and also get some reader input that might be helpful for other families.
For our part, my children love our chickens.
Not a day goes by without chicken/kid interaction.
When they were chicks, they were of course soft and fluffy and small and irresistible to all. It was not surprising that they captivated the children. The chicks came in the spring and the tiny birds spent their early weeks on our screened porch inside a large plastic storage container with a heat lamp, then graduated to a wire pet crate. First thing every morning the kids made a beeline to the peepers, helping keep the fresh feed and water available, helping with the cleanup.
Every afternoon as soon as they got home from school, they would again rush to the chicks and carry them around, incorporate them into their play in various scenarios, again helping with the feeding and general care.
Once they were fully feathered out, with the kids eager help, we would transfer them to an outdoor “playpen” each morning, and carry them back into the cage again every evening. It was a great way to get them used to being handled as well as a lot of fun for the children.
Chicks are adorable, but would they continue to play with them as big hens?
I already knew the answer to this, because these were not our first chickens. We had already raised chicks into hens, and the kids, while temporarily beguiled by the newcomers, still loved our big hens.
Something about the ages of our kids while raising this current new flock meant a special bond and extra interaction. This latest batch is our most people-friendly bunch yet. They are easy to grab and carry around, calm and personable.
They are fully grown, laying hens, now, and they still get daily love and attention. They get carried around, fed special treats, and generally loved to bits.
I know it’s not always that way, though.
I spoke to an acquaintance recently who got chickens for his kids and one of them ignores them and the other is afraid of them. I wish I knew more about how that came about, but it may be a simple personality issue, a lifestyle issue, or an issue with how the chicks were habituated to humans. We have two hens who were hen-raised, and they are very skittish, although excellent birds in all other ways.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on what it has been like for those of you who have children, big and small, to have your own backyard flock.