Perhaps you’ve toyed with the idea of having a pet chicken, but because you don’t have a large lawn, an indoor pet chicken sounds like a good idea. In some cases, keeping a chicken indoors is actually not only feasible but also entertaining. The classic TV show “Friends,” may come to mind, as you begin to ask yourself difficult questions such as “Where did their indoor pet chicken relieve itself?” and “How can I be sure I don’t end up with an indoor rooster?” Though the show portrays this as a silly, yet honorable, rescue scenario, the friends Joey and Chandler quickly realize that they were anything but prepared for the adventure they had ahead of them.
An indoor pet chicken, like almost any animal, can quickly integrate into your family.
Because of this, it’s important to consider many factors before bringing in a hen, even if it’s a good cause such as a rescue. Below are some important things to consider before making the decision to keep a pet chicken indoors.
- Chickens actually do “shed.” Don’t fall under the misconception that just because they have no “fur,” means they won’t cause allergy flares. They produce a dander and can also shed feathers of all sizes depending on the kind of chicken. Make sure before committing to a pet chicken that your family is tolerant of the allergy risk, or you have a secure place for her outside.
- Consider if this is a permanent move or a temporary one, and prepare for the transition if needed. We mostly find that an indoor pet chicken has first been kept indoors due to an injury. Once the animal heals, the family either becomes attached and attempts to keep her in the home, or they prepare to reintegrate her outside, preferably with other hens. This is something you should likely decide early in the game, as chickens can behave much like a family dog in the sense of bonding, cuddling, responding to cues such as cooking noises and even deciding where its “nest” will be in your home. If you don’t already have a plan to put her outside, chances are high you’ll become attached and end up with a permanently indoor pet chicken!
- Consider the lifetime commitment. A healthy chicken can live almost 10 years, which is longer than a Great Dane! You certainly wouldn’t rush the decision to rescue a dog without considering the lifelong commitment, and a chicken should not be regarded any differently. After all, they adjust to the lifestyle you provide to them, and it would be unfair to toss a sweet, family hen out into a cold hen house after eight years of being spoiled with television cuddling sessions.
- Consider what you’ll do when away from home. While your chicken will likely be fine in the proper cage for a few hours for work hours, if you choose to go on vacation, you may have fewer options than you think. A veterinarian will likely not provide boarding options for feathered friends, and you certainly should not assume she can simply be placed outside with other chickens. Once a chicken is accustomed to living indoors, a transition period with heavy monitoring needs to occur before she can be expected to try an outdoor scenario. In fact, the chicken could even be attacked or pecked by other hens if left to herself in this scenario. The best solution is likely to find a chicken sitter who can attend to your pet in your home, or alternatively, theirs, if your friends are understanding.
- Consider where the chicken will stay and where it will be allowed in the home. Some use special indoor cages for their indoor pet chicken friends when they can’t be supervised. Others use the bottom drawer of a desk or dresser for the pet’s “nest.” While this may sound bizarre, the shape of the drawer is actually quite nice for a chicken! You’ll certainly want to set boundaries with children’s rooms and any other rooms where the chicken may accidentally pick up something harmful or leave a mess.
- Consider your current living situation. This may seem obvious, but if you live in an apartment, your landlord may not allow pets, and likely won’t allow chickens. Consider the popular scenario of the show Friends, where Joey and Chandler are forced to hide their rescued chicken from the landlord. Not only does this provide an issue for those in apartments, but those subject to Home Owners Association regulations as well. Be sure to check with all of the proper authorities, so that you know you can provide a safe, stable, long term environment for your pet. Click Here to find out the best way to look after your pet chickens!
- Find a “Poop plan.” Yes, it sounds silly, but it is the most necessary consideration at the end of the day. Without proper planning or training, your beloved family pet could be forced outside sooner than you originally thought. Some breeds can relieve themselves up to twice in one hour, creating quite a bit more maintenance than dogs in this aspect. There are many articles focusing specifically on this area, but put simply, the easiest route for many is usually a “chicken diaper.” This allows the pet to roam more freely and explore the home, without the worry of the mess she may leave behind. It’s important to research this thoroughly, however, as certain breeds aren’t as suited for diapers as well as others. Other pet owners try different training techniques similar to those used with puppies, such as clicker or treat training. Some simply prefer to clean up after the chicken, especially if it is only inside temporarily. Keep in mind, however, that the latter is most certainly not foolproof and could be problematic with children or other pets in the home. Also, particularly if your chicken is allowed to roam through the entire home, you may find yourself missing spots only to find the surprises weeks later!
If you don’t already have a plan to put her outside, chances are high you’ll become attached and end up with a permanent indoor pet chicken!
Overall, keeping a pet chicken indoors can actually be a rewarding experience. Many people who find therapeutic relief with dogs and cats find similar outcomes when caring for chickens. They adapt to our lifestyles similarly to the way other pets do, and though they each have their own personalities, some are even thrilled to cuddle and watch television with you. If you aren’t able to have a lawn but love the idea of adding a chicken to your family, an indoor pet chicken might be worth considering!