During a recent trip to a neighbor's home, I was surprised to find a chicken coop in the backyard. I was even more surprised to see people picking up and carry the chickens as if they were cats. The hens seemed unfazed by human interaction and were comfortable leaving the coop to venture into the open yard.
I'd always thought chickens were ornery and could cause harm by pecking, but seeing these happy hens got me thinking. Could chickens make good pets—just like dogs? I hung out with the flock to find out more about these cackling companions.
Meet the Brood
Davi: What ruffles your feathers?
Violet: The dog (sorry, not sorry). He likes to chase us. If Grandma didn't like him so much, we'd leave the gate open.
Do you like to play?
All: OMG, yes! We have rattle toys and a swing!
What do you do all day?
Hyacinth: When we're not busy scratching for bugs and food, we're usually hopped on a perch or circling around each other, but laying eggs is our Grade A task and takes most of our time.
Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
Rose: I dunno. Which?
Have you ever flown the coop?
Violet: Our coop is securely locked, but we've jumped the fence a few times!
What are your favorite foods?
All: Mealworms are delicious, and apples, and arugula! We also like cracked corn!
How many eggs do you lay a year?
Daisy: I don't do math. Whatever 5 x 7 x 52 is—that's how many.
Do chickens have a language?
Rose: We have a special code. The chicken world is predominantly a social one and sounds, gestures and postures are all key in communicating with one another.
Why did the chicken cross the road?
Hyacinth: To prove to the armadillo that it could be done.
Do chickens have a pecking order?
Daisy: The pecking order is, literally, determined by pecking. The bigger, stronger and more aggressive chicks bully their way to the top of the flock by pecking others into submission with their pointy beaks.
Do you lay all your eggs in one basket?
Rose: Yes. We trust our flock-mates so much, we simply agree with the earlier egg-laying hen and add our egg to the clutch.
What's your secret talent?
Daisy: Squawking. We have lovely singing voices—especially me!
It's hard to put a number on how many chickens reside in the local area, but it's evident that keeping chickens has become an unlikely symbol of urban chic. Chickens are fairly easy as pets go. They're friendly, don't require walks and will help with pest control by eating whatever grubs they can find. They even offer, *ahem*, tokens in return for their care. Call it a trend, call it a movement, but sometime soon, some chickens may be brooding in a neighborhood near you—and safely crossing roads without having their motives questioned.