House Chickens: Is It Right For You?
It’s no secret that I keep chickens indoors as pets. Pancake, Beep Beep, and Stelly all live inside.
These house chickens are all very special to me. Pancake, my cross beak, is my soul bird and it’s because of her that I learned as much as I did about raising chickens. Because of Pancake, Beep Beep is alive, healthy, and well today. Without her, he would have never found me and he would have starved.
Stelly is inside because her feathers suck and she realizes that all she has to do is shiver once and I bring her in. Now she’s here to stay.
I love having my feathered children inside the house. I don’t regret the decision one bit. Every situation has pros and cons, and house chickens are no different. Let’s discuss why we do it, the pros and cons, and how to keep your pet chicken indoors safely.
Do Chickens Make Good House Pets?
A lot of people are shaking their heads right now at the thought of keeping a chicken inside as a pet.
I hear things like, “that’s disgusting”, “they walk in their own poop”, and “chickens carry diseases”. However, that isn’t always the case. Especially for a house chicken.
House chickens, at least mine, are very clean. Since they live in the house, they aren’t constantly walking through a dirty coop or stepping in things they shouldn’t be. When they go outside, their feet get cleaned when they come back in.
Their indoor coop stays clean and when we all get up in the morning, they are taken out and don’t go back in until nighttime.
My house chickens are less of a burden than my dogs. Seriously. They don’t bark at every single vehicle coming down the street. They don’t pee on the floor if you are 45 seconds behind on a potty break. My chickens don’t leave fur in every little crevice in the house and on every single piece of clothing. They like to cuddle and watch TV with their people. AND you get an egg surprise here and there. Chickens are pretty low maintenance when it comes to keeping them indoors.
Honestly, I love having mine inside. I think they make great indoor house pets.
Pros and Cons of Keeping a Chicken Indoors as a House Pet
Keeping chickens indoors can have both advantages and disadvantages. I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that it’s all fun and games because honestly, they require some work. However, I love having them inside and I don’t regret a single thing. They bring us so much joy with their personalities and little quirks. The pros definitely outweigh the cons for me.
- Indoor chickens require less space than outdoor chickens. Think coop and covered run vs. living inside.
- House chickens help to reduce your food waste since they can eat your kitchen scraps. However, your outdoor chickens can do that, too. But indoor chickens are right there at your feet so you don’t have to load it all up in a bowl and throw it outside.
- House chickens provide companionship and great entertainment, right there in your home.
- Indoor chickens are protected from predators and extreme weather. There is no need to build a rock-solid coop and run for them.
- Keeping a chicken inside makes it easier to treat illnesses and injuries. You are able to keep a closer eye on your chicken if they are inside rather than outside with the flock.
- Your indoor house chicken can provide you with eggs year-round.
- Indoor chickens can produce extra dust and odors that may require more frequent cleaning.
- Indoor chickens can be a little noisy. Especially after they’ve laid an egg in the morning (yay or the egg song) or if you end up with a rooster who wants to crow at 4:03AM every day. Thanks, Stelly.
- There can be health concerns related to keeping chickens indoors while handling chicken waste.
- House chickens may require specific equipment or items such as an indoor coop or cage to stay in when you don’t want them roaming around free and chicken diapers to contain poop.
- House chickens will peck at every single screen they come across. Your days of scrolling on your phone alone are gone. They love to peck the screen.
Preparing for House Chickens
House chickens don’t require as much work as outdoor chickens. However, they do require some.
A Place to Sleep
Indoor chickens don’t necessarily need a coop to stay in. I, personally, have one set up in my laundry room so that I can keep them locked up at night and keep them safe from the dogs while we aren’t there to watch them.
Inside their little coop, I have roosting bars set up for them. One is higher for Pancake and Beep Beep to jump up on and feel secure and one is lower to the ground for Stelly since her feathers prevent her from flying or jumping high.
Chickens like to roost while they sleep and the higher the better. I often find Pancake trying to sleep on top of a hutch in my bathroom.
A coop and roosting bar make them feel safe. Chickens have a natural instinct to sleep high to keep themselves safe from predators.
A coop isn’t necessary, though. A dog cage or a pop-up tent/cage is perfectly fine, too.
I keep bedding at the bottom of my indoor coop so that it absorbs the moisture from their droppings and I can easily clean it out.
Prepare a nesting box in advance for your house chicken and save yourself a scramble on the day your chicken decides to lay her first egg.
Don’t be like me and run around like a mad woman looking for a soft place to put your hen who is screaming at you because she has a child about to fall out of her booty.
…. only for her to lay the egg in the most obnoxious spot in the house.
Or leave you a diaper trophy.
Just do yourself a favor and place a nest box for her and introduce her to it so that she is comfortable with it and knows where to go when the time comes. It’ll make for easier egg collecting.
Pro-Tip: put the nest box where your dogs can’t get to it. Lily quickly found out that Pancake not only poops out delicious warm brown treats, but she also makes eggs when she screams at the top of her lungs in the mornings.
I, personally, own diapers from both places and love them.
I do not recommend using face masks, as some do, on your chickens as a diaper. Just like chicks, if your chicken’s vent becomes blocked with poop and she can’t push any out, she can die. And quickly.
Not only that, but the face mask will smash the poop into her feathers and that’s a no for me. With the diapers I own, I can add a disposable cup to the inside of the pouch that goes over the vent and then I can quickly and easily dump the cup and reuse the diaper throughout the day.
Things to remember about Chicken Diapers:
- You don’t want to leave the diaper on all day long. Your chicken’s vent needs time to breathe. Keeping it covered up and in a damp environment at all times can lead to bacteria growth. I let my chickens wear their diapers during the day and then at night we take them off so they can breathe. They also get time outside without the diapers on. Try to minimize the amount of time your house chicken is in a diaper.
- Chicken diapers come in different sizes. It’s very important to contact the shop owner and inquire about what measurements they require to make an appropriately sized diaper. The wrong-size diaper will lead you on a path to poop city.
- Take into consideration your chicken’s feather quality when deciding on a diaper. Stelly has awful feathers so I can’t use certain types of straps or designs on her.
- Sometimes finding a chicken diaper you like is trial and error. Don’t be disappointed if you hate the first one you buy. We sure did.
- Don’t get the cheap ones on Amazon. Just don’t.
How to Care For a House Chicken
Caring for a house chicken is pretty similar to caring for chickens in your outdoor flock.
Aside from the basics like a food and water station, they’ll also need somewhere to take a dirt bath. You can easily make a dirt bath for them using dirt, wood ash, sand, etc., and put it in something like a litter box that they will have access to at all times.
Chickens need sunlight to stay healthy, so making sure that they have that daily is important. Allow them to have access to a sunny window or have a place outside where they can go and lay around and soak up the sun.
They also need mental stimulation. There are tons of chicken toys on the market. Getting a few and placing them around your house will be very beneficial to your new house chicken.
We keep snacks on hand for Stelly, like mealworms, and throw them on the floor so she has something to do. Chickens like to forage and they don’t get to do that inside, so you’ll want to try and recreate it in the house. Toys that they can kick around with healthy snacks inside is ideal.
Health and Safety Considerations Concerning House Chickens
Just as with dogs, cats, parrots and other birds, reptiles, rodents (hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils), and other small mammals (hedgehogs, sugar gliders, rabbits). chickens can carry diseases.
Keeping you and your chicken’s environment clean and clear of droppings is essential in maintaining a healthy and safe living space for both humans and chickens.
Washing your hands after handling them and keeping them away from your food is good practice and helps to prevent the transmission of diseases.
Take into consideration that chickens don’t just walk around with every disease out there. It has to be transmitted to them before they can transmit it to you. Taking the proper precautions to keep your chicken healthy helps to keep things under control. Routine vet exams and fecal tests can help to prevent possible transmittable diseases.
I would never suggest going outside and grabbing the first chicken you run into and declaring them your new house chicken.
Make sure that if you are bringing one inside to live indoors that they are healthy and clean.
Just as you would with your dog or cat.
In general, if anyone asked me if I thought a chicken would make a good house pet, I would say “Absolutely yes, 100%”.
However, house chickens aren’t for everyone.
Weighing the pros and cons of having chickens indoors can help you to make the best decision for you and your family.
While chickens don’t need much from us as house pets like dogs or cats, they do still require some work and extra equipment to keep them happy. Having the proper set-up for a house chicken is vital.
Keeping up with routine vet visits and maintaining a clean home is essential when you’re considering having a chicken indoors as a pet. Maintaining good hygiene and being aware of your chicken’s health will help to prevent transmittable diseases, just like any other house pet.
Having a chicken as a house pet is a personal decision and must be thoroughly thought out ahead of time. But with a little work, you can set yourself and your new favorite chicken up for success.