The life of an adult chicken can be more than a decade of bug-pecking bliss as a backyard pet. As more people look to produce some of their own food and to eat more naturally, interest in keeping small egg-laying flocks has grown. In addition to the ready egg supply pet hens provide, chickens make interesting and enjoyable companions.
You can often adopt adult chickens through your local animal control agency. Set aside time to interact with your birds. As with any pet, you must provide your chicken with food, water, shelter and veterinary care. Your pet chicken will also enjoy space to forage. This is when chickens scratch at dirt to find insects. They are also looking for sand and small rocks that they must eat to properly digest their food.
In addition to keeping chickens as pets, some families keep a backyard coop for a ready supply of eggs. These chickens have the same needs as those who are kept as pets. One aspect of adult chicken life that backyard chicken keepers may experience is broodiness. If you're just keep chickens for egg supplies, this can be frustrating. Your chicken may decide that she's going to sit on her eggs, even if the eggs haven't been fertilized.
Times and Seasons
While chickens enjoy foraging and scratching during the daylight, your chicken will want to turn in early. Instinct tells chickens to find the highest point and go there to sleep once the sun starts to set. The best place for your chicken to roost is in her coop, surrounded by the rest of her flock, safe from predators while she sleeps. There are two times during the year when a chicken's egg production declines. One is when she is molting, which usually happens in the summer. She will lose most of her feathers, but will regrow new feathers within a few weeks. Because egg production is connected to the amount of light, your chicken's egg production will also naturally decline in the winter when days are shorter.
As with any pet, treats are a must for your adult chicken. Treats will help you tame, bond with and even train your chicken. Some chickens enjoy fruits. Types you might offer your chicken include apples, peeled bananas and all kinds of berries. Veggies are also a favorite of many chickens, including cabbage, carrots and potatoes. Other possible treats you might offer are popcorn, oatmeal and yogurt. You can even give your chickens your kitchen scraps as a treat. There are also a few foods you should not offer your chicken. These include citrus fruits, undercooked beans and chocolate.
- Chicken Eggspert: The Lifespan of a Chicken
- The Humane Society of the United States: Adopting and Caring for Backyard Chickens
- P. Allen Smith Garden Home: Raising Chickens -- Caring for Adult Chickens
- My Pet Chicken: The My Pet Chicken Guide to Chicken Care
- Pet Chickens: Why Chickens Need a Roost
- Back Yard Chickens: Chicken Treat Chart
- Photo Credit David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images