How To Raise A Chicken As A Family Pet

Most people think of chickens as backyard roamers, or maybe the next item on the dinner plate. But there is another way to own chickens, and that...
By Chicks & Chickens · Mar 3, 2012 · Updated May 1, 2012 · ·
  1. Chicks & Chickens
    Most people think of chickens as backyard roamers, or maybe the next item on the dinner plate. But there is another way to own chickens, and that way is raising them to be your companion. Many people find this hard to believe, but chickens can be just as loyal as cogs. Some will sit in your lap, come when they hear their name, and even cuddle with you for hours straight.

    The story of my first chickens began in September 2011. I never expected to have loved them as much as I do to this day, but things turned out to be what I never knew possible. Okay, so you're wondering why I haven't started explaining how to do it, right? That's because I wanted to tell you how mine turned out, and then, you'll have a look at how you can raise your chickens to be some of the cuddliest in the world.

    It started out when I first named my chick while it was in my closet. All I wanted to do was spend time with it, so, I did. I picked it up and put it in my lap daily, then I tried to offer it a few pieces of Chick Starter. It was very easy to keep it staying still, and from the first day on it loved to sit there.


    Now here are the step-by-step instructions on how to make your chick become your lap companion:

    1. Let's say your chick is a few days old. Of course it is very small and hasn't been handled much, so the first thing to do is to gently pick it up by hand. Make sure not to startle it. Place it on your lap, right below your shirt, and cover it with your hand. Rub its head and let it fall asleep in your shirt. Be sure not to do this when your chick is newly hatched because it will need heat to dry up its down feathers in order to fluff up after being wet from the egg. Continue to do this cycle on the first few days of caring for your chick.

    2. After a week or two, your chick should develop some feathers. It should be lively and active enough for some playtime. You can pat your knees and call it by its name for it to come to you. My chick always ran happily to me and tried to jump into my lap.

    3. At the age 4-5 weeks old, you can introduce your chick to the outdoors. Make sure to provide a safe environment for your bird. Don't let it free until you trust it to know good from bad, and make sure there are no cats or dogs nearby that could harm it. Pick it up from the ground and sit somewhere safe where you and your bird can cuddle while it still gets the fresh air from being outside.

    4. At the age 6-7 weeks old, your bird can stay outside if it is used to it. You should visit it daily with treats and Yogurt for good behavior. Sit it on your lap for a morning cuddle. Remember that at this stage of life, your chick should be able to jump up to you perfectly well. Practice tricks to build the ultimate relationship with your bird.

    5. At weeks 8+, your chick should be used to its every day life. By this time, you can expect your chick to love you more than anything else in the world. Morning cuddles, coming to its name, tricks and treats. There is so much more to list. You'll be pleasantly surprised with your results. I actually put chickens on the top of my 'Favorite Animals' list because I experienced something that, like I said, I never knew was possible.

    Then by the time your chicken is 21+ weeks old, depending on maturity, it may get into mating. Expect your eggs around 25 weeks old. But that's a totally different story. Broody hens, crowing roosters- That won't matter that much when you live the life you are given with hand-raised, loving chicks.

    That's the way to raising your chicks to become wonderful, loving, lap pets that you will always have by your side.

    Raising Baby Chicks Forum Section

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Recent User Reviews

  1. 007Sean
    "Chickens as Pets"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed May 13, 2019 at 2:16 AM
    Nice article on how to 'train'.your chicken. Step by step instructions are really helpful.
  2. ButtonquailGirl14
    "Love this Article!"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Feb 10, 2019
  3. JerryR708
    "Love this article"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Jan 17, 2019
    I used to lean over a tall brooding pen with cardboard sides. This would startle the chicks in seeing an aerial predator. Then I started entering the brooding pen by opening one of the removeable side panels. The chicks would be curious and come to me head on, instead of running away to safety from a big monster reaching over the wall from above. I raised mine in my office where I spent most of the time with them. They always see me, hear my voice and are picked up and held a lot.
    I picked out a favorite early on, a Black Sex Link. She spends time with me in bed while watching tv and follows me around the house. I noticed a substantial difference in pet quality between her and the other hens that didn't get as much attention. Thanks for sharing this article with us.


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  1. Cadbury22
    Really great article. I recommend buff orpingtons and brahmas. Very sweet chickens with great personalities. Very friendly.
  2. Banana552
    good article I have an oeg spangled bantam myself
  3. Fluffy&Cutie
    we just got ours at 4 weeks old. I read everywhere that you just pick them up and hold them as the article says. it took two visits to accomplish this. now, they love to sit on our shoulders while we do our daily things (like type this). They flew off at first, but we just picked them up and put them back. now, they just cuddle there. I never knew chickens were so lovey-dovey. Fluffy is actually sleeping on my son's shoulder as he plays video games. the one thing is that our chicks don't like to get picked up, they come on their own accord. Happy day to all!
  4. 1stimeChickMom
    This is what I am hoping for- we have only had them for 2 days and I can already see their different personalities.
  5. Lisa Wood
    Most of mine (10) a month old, hate to be picked up. Of course picked up means chased and caught also. But, wfter i have them, they calm down and love getting pet. I dont really get it?
  6. Jporres
    awesome post! thank you
  7. Soot the silkie
    Love this article... I always try and explain to people that chickens are just as smart as dogs and just as sweet... and then I get in huge arguments people because no one believes me. I like to know that some people recognize chickens for it.
  8. jwiltrout99
    I just wanted to share a little of my experience in support of this article. I have a pet Rooster named Chicken Little and he is a household pet. He was given to me when he was a few months old. He was held a lot when he was a young chick and the moment I picked him up he just melted in my arms. He is a total love bug and just as the article indicates, he knows his name and will come running when he's called and LOVES to be held. He goes everywhere we and our dogs go! Chickens truly DO make wonderful pets! They are sweet and loving and entertaining and smart! ;->
  9. ChickyChickens
    Awesome!!!!!! Only read this now.....
  10. Crele
    I used to have an old english crele a few years ago and I bought him a few weeks of age and he didn't fit in with the other chickens so he bonded to me and I showed at the fair and he was sitting on my hand as I walked through the fair grounds he was really something special, I miss him so much!
  11. Mountain Peeps
    Great article! My chicks are right on track!
  12. HerbGir1972
    Our chick is already a lap lover, it's happiest when with us and starts preening about 5 minutes after getting settled in your lap or on your arm. Funniest thing ever. We're getting a few more chicks so it will have companions other than us humans, but we're gonna hand raise them too so they are all uber friendly with the kids around
  13. narwhal master
    I have my girls outside but I bring them in every day and play with them.
  14. shabbychix
    Love all of your "chicken passion". I have a "battered" hen who lives in my laundry/entry in a huge dog kennel. It is summer so she goes outside with me whenever I go out. She is a riot and I am totally surprised at how much she wants to be by me, follows me and tells me when she needs to go back inside to lay her egg each day. I am actually thinking about making my laundry room into a winter chicken coop. I live in Alaska and it is tough, during the -30 to-60 temps to keep chix warm. If they were a part of the house it would be much easier. My concern is (well, one of them): will they eat the sheetrock?
  15. Chicks & Chickens
    chews chooks: Sorry for the late response! I started holding them by hand (I'm pretty sure) within a day or so. It's best to give them affection at an early age so they can grow up to enjoy it. As for the food, I didn't give mine any of the treats I mentioned until they were many weeks old--and yours are definitely much older now than they were when you asked--so I think it's past time for yours to be ready. This is what you were asking about, right? Hope it helped in any way. :)
  16. chews chooks
    and have lived in a primary school for most of that
  17. chews chooks
    would this work with chicks that are a week old ???
    : D
  18. BirdbyGavin1103
    As I'm reading this one of my girls is curled up between my sweater and my top, after enjoying her first "breakfast" of yogurt. We have four right now that are going to be true pets, and I told my son we can have up to 8 (from this generation) that will never go on the table
  19. Chicks & Chickens
    Thank you (everyone) for all of these comments! I really appreciate each and every one of them. I also wish I could answer all of your questions, but sadly I don't have enough time to be posting that often . . .
    I'm sure the topics around here cover your needs. I've felt the same way before-- lost with unanswered questions--but I definitely found help here on BYC.
    I hope you find what you're looking for!
    P.S. Thank you, BYC, for featuring my article so many times. I didn't think it was all that great! :)
  20. pcreel
    My new lavender orp chick loves to sit with me and my dog Pongo
  21. SJ
    I keep larger flock 30-100 birds so taming them all isn't going to happen but when I got my first batch there was a very brave chick that would greet me right at the edge of my grower pen each time I came to check on the chicks. It worried me at first b/c all the others would huddle in the back corner. This little white chick was not afraid at all for some reason so I could pick it right up. So I would pick it up and check everyday to see if it was sick, blind, or something because I was sure something had to be wrong. I soon realized my worries were over nothing because as soon as i put fresh water and food in the grower it would hop back in the grower, eat, drink, run around and finally nap with the others. I grew fond of being greeted and when it was clear it was a little guy I named him Leo because he had the heart of a lion. He grew and I learned how loyal a friend a chicken can be. He always greeted me when I got home from work at 7:30 am to get his waddles and belly rubbed and some scratch grains of course. Leo was more than a pet he was my teacher. He thought me that chickens have character, personality, and are individuals. I like this article because there aren't many lion hearted chicks in the chicken world and this articles has great instructions on how to make any chicken a pet.
      Jacquieh likes this.
  22. chart
    They must not be too dumb! I 'fix dinner' for them every night. They are all about 5 wks. old now. It all started with chopped dry oatmeal. Then little by little lots of other little concoctions. It was only after a week or so that I noticed every time I take out the cutting board, they'd go crazy. They can see me form their brooders when I'm in the kitchen, so I guess it's obvious that their eyesight is good, too.
    I'm getting up there in years but have tons of energy. In spurts. By early afternoon, I need to rest! I've developed the habit of coffee, cookies and a good read at this time of day. I built them a little temporary, but safe play yard for the nice days. I decided to take my 'break' in the pen with them. (I've since learned to keep a little board down to protect a butt spot so I don't have to sit in poop!)
    My coffee is safe, covered cup. Not so my cookies and book. Or my freckles, arm hair, buttons, earrings, etc. Well, I can make dog biscuits, why not chicken biscuits? It took a while to get them to be the right consistency, but the wheat germ, yogurt, P.B. and chopped apples are their favorite. We all have coffee break together now and they'd much rather eat out of my hand than anything. My friend caught me at it one day. He wonders if I think I'm a chicken or they think they are people...
    Love all your stories. Makes me realize that I'm not so strange, after all!
      san1963 likes this.
    1. Beth the chicken mama
      I would love to see your recipes.
      san1963 likes this.
  23. Haveandtohold
    What an adorable little one! This is great advice too! People always seem so surprised that all my chickens like and even beg to be petted. Seems to be this foolish misconception that chickens are just "dumb animals".
  24. PekinBantam
    I'll have to remember this, I've always wanted my chickens to be "lap pets". Hehe...
  25. BertandMary
    Chickens are great pets and provide eggs too. I like them better than my dog.
  26. blipit007
    Great article! I have a mixed batch of a week and a half olds. So far the RIR wants to be all over me! I am getting a silkie tomorrow and very excited about that! Good to know that all my playing and cuddling with will pay off. Some of my chicks are very reluctant to want me to pick them up and hold them, like the 2 Barred Rocks, and my Aracauna. (sp)? Should I just keep at it? Or just be happy with my lovable RIR, Black Sex Link, and soon to be Silkie?
  27. albchickenfarm
    wow! What a great article! They do make wonderful pets... I am raising a WCBP chick to be my pet
  28. Thistlelady
    Any tricks to get a 6 week old chick to do this? I got 2 at 6 weeks old & really want to have them pets not just backyard birds
  29. sparkleeyes
    I have had the pleasure of owning chickens for almost a year now. There are a few, and 2 in particular that we've had since chicks that I am in love with. But just a practical question I've been wondering about. Having a lap chick or in the house at all.. well what do you do about the doo doo?? Would they know when to and when not to go? Like not on your lap or your couch?
  30. Tongiechick
    very cute i raise mine like this too
  31. QueenBeeMom
    I love your tips! Thank you! We're getting some more chicks this week and I look forward to spending cuddle time with them like you suggest. Most of my 7 ladies are very friendly, except for one very skittish Wyandottte named Clara. I have been having greater success with her lately as a friendly bird just by spending the time with her. Once I catch her I just hold her calmly, sit down, and chat quietly with her for 10-15 minutes. It's a nice time of the day for me and she is coming around. So for anyone out there saying, "OH! I wish I would have done that!" - Never fear. You may not have quite the socialite as Chick, but you will have a more people friendly flock.
  32. goldeneggtees
    Mrs. Cuddles always comes when called, except when she's laying an egg!
  33. Chickenfan4life
    Wow... awesome. Especially since I have some babies to practice on!!!
    Congrats on getting it featured, and on the 11 likes and counting! :D
  34. Sarahlee91
    Thank you so much for writing this article. This article helped me so much. I was about to search for how to have your chicks want to be by you. So thanks again for the amazing information.
  35. blr8t2
    Henpecker, maybe youshould start a new post so you will get more responses, instead of replying to an older post of a different topic. But speaking from experience, the ones with deformed feet will die. At least mine have. Seems there are other things going on within, other than the obviously not right feet/foot. My first one was bad, she died pretty quick. She wanted to eat but didn't know how she just stuck her beak in thefood and didnt open it. I just had another one that tried her best to get around but her legs were BAD, almost lik arthritic or the bones were fused or something. Anyway I had hope for her, thought maybe as she grew she would slowly grow out of the deformity and heal. I had to hold her steady to drink, and she did drink! I wet the chick starter for ease of eating and stuck her in the bowl, then enticed the others to come eat, and that made her want to eat too lol. But in the end she just didnt consume enough and she slowly shut down and passed away yesterday. I would not separate, if your chickie makes it she will need friends on her side. If you put her on her own, nobody will accept her later.
  36. Henpencker
    I'm so sad right now I have a chick that is deformed his leg joints look backwards I don't know what to do. This is something I need to figure out on what to do. Will it die on its own or do I just deal w/ it by keeping him separated from everyone else. (They will surely kill it)
  37. Chickies24
    I've got six new little ones, I plan on raising them exactly like this! They're about a week old right now. Whenever I put my hands in their cardboard box, they jump on up and just sit there. They sometimes even fall asleep!
    Great job!
  38. r1forb
    That's so funny you said tricks. Ethyl, my turken will jump pretty high and always can grab even the tiniest treat I have for her. And she's awesome at catch! She lets me hold her and we walk around the yard together checking out new flowers and such....especially when she gets spooked. She will start screaming for me! I go out and just cuddle with her for awhile til she feels better and all is right again. She's my little diva! I love her and I'm hoping out of the 5 BCM's I just hatched a few will be the same!
  39. mmttw
    ellend, I had a house full of parrots (including cockatoos) for years until a house fire took them out. I am the most frighteningly healthy person you could hope to meet. Everyone around me gets sick, and I don't. I suppose it is possible there is an issue that I am not aware of, but I would think it would make me weaker than others, not stronger. Where I live, it has been below freezing most days lately, and sometimes WAY below. It isn't practical, or kind to make them live outside. Even an enclosed coop would be too cold for them. Dust is something of an issue, but I replace my furnace filter way more often than it calls for, and keep the pen as clean as is humanly possible. It can be done, and without any noticeable ill effects. I have three of them living in my basement, and have not really noticed any excess dust in the rest of the house. I also have 9 other pets, so I have to throw in the "noticeable" clause lol.
  40. ellend
    Indoor chickens: Seriously, two chickens can generate enough dust to cover everything in the house with a layer; including your lungs. Like cockatoos, they are VERY dusty birds, and you can easily develop a serious lung disorder. If you really want house chickens, might I suggest silkies (their "down" seems to trap dust better, and they are very sweet) and frequent bathing. I have to admit, I'd probably do it myself if not for the 5 previously homeless cats in the house...
  41. ktinker
    I always wanted chickens as a kid, and I guess I'm making up for all my chicken-deprived years now :) Chicks are hatching left and right, and all 40+ come running when they hear me coming to their area. We don't have a coop, just a fenced in area, some fly out during the day but they all go back at night into their new ULTRA expensive coop. I never thought I'd love having them so much! If you're having a bad day, hang out with some chickens for a few minutes!!! They're wonderful! I thought I was weird, but I found this forum, thank goodness! I even became a vegetarian a few months back.... I'll still feed my pit bull meat (he hangs out with the chickens, by the way, pit bulls are the best), but I can't bring myself to eat chicken anymore, they're all my pets and my friends! I am having such a wonderful experience and I want to learn everything I can about how to keep them all happy and healthy!!!
  42. Summer Rose
    Fantastic article and well written. I have thirteen Chickens. The Favoralles were 6 weeks old the others not sure of their age but they were pullets when I got them. I bought six different breeds and they all have different personalities. I found that I first had to walk slowly around them and shake a box of Scratch till they came close, which they did. Then I found a place to sit and fed them meal worms. First putting them on the ground then in my hand. Most will eat from my hand now, but only two will let me touch them. I'm sure they and the rest will eventually come in my lap, just have to be patient. They are such a treat to be around! Oh, and did I mention meal worms, umm meal worms, they love them, LOL.
      Ranchwithaview likes this.
  43. LottieDa
    What a great article. That's exactly how we raised our hens and they are very sweet. They're a couple years old now and are more independent. They still come running all excited when I come home from work but after we greet each other and chat for a bit they wander off and get back to their chicken dramas. My husband says it's like watching "chicken TV".
  44. iluvorpingtons
    Aaaaaaaaaaaaaw! That's so cute!
  45. EGG-Cited
    My 6 chickens have been free-range and daycare pets for years, yet a new addition has chosen a most involved role. Maybelle loves to play puzzles with the children, sit on my lap during reading and while the children play, enjoys being pet by them. She has initiated all this behavior herself and is a such a cuddiler. She is about 6 months and just started laying under the lavendar bush. So sweet!
  46. SilkiesnFrizzle
    I never intended to have any of my chicks as pets, but more so for eggs right now, but when a hawk came and killed one of my white silkies and badly injured my frizzle, Burrito, I had Purr ( black silkie hen) on my shoulder while I was caring for Burrito. I am still caring for Burrito, she had a broken leg and some damage to her wing, but she is trying to stand now :) But both of them I totally fell in love with them and Purr is so cute when she sits on Burrito to keep her warm.....Sorry I'm blabbing, but I have aquired 3 more chickies, but they are not handled like Purr and Burrito.....these 2 are also my first chickens ever, so the attachment is very strong...:)
  47. jwiltrout99
    Roosters are sweet too! Chicken Little is the sweetest boy! He loves to be held and snuggled. He is full of personality and oh so smart. I never knew how smart these creatures are and how much joy they can bring into your life!
      Ranchwithaview likes this.
  48. Nottinghamranch
    Loved it, my daughters Goldie was our lap pet. She hated being caught but once in our lap she was so loving.
  49. Pecked2Death
    I wouls also like to know at what age you cna introduce chicks into an establish group of non-related chickens - that have not had chicks before. On a side note - my broody is attached to her nesting box not her chicks or her eggs prior to that. I tried moving them to ground level just before she had them - she just flew up to her nest again and would not budge. after an hour I gave in and put the eggs back under her. Now that she has got them to jump down two feet to the ground (3 days old) amd scratch on the floor, she has go them outsideand eat grass etc. at night she take them back in - she goes up to the nest and leaves them huddled on the floor together. Mind you she does have a wild rate that is sleeping with her! Maybe she like the rate better that the chicks.
  50. 1969bozanna
    What a cute photo. We have bought our light sussex hen when she was 6 weeks old. She comes to us when we call her, jumps on the bench and stands on my lap to get her favourite treat- sunflower seeds. She is now 1 year old but still has not laid a single egg.
      Ranchwithaview likes this.

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