Whenever someone calls our house, the conversation is inevitably interrupted by our little Serama rooster crowing his head off. The general response to this not-so-background noise is the incredulous/laughing question, “Was that a rooster?”
We love having him in the house, along with his little ladies. Henry was our first house chicken. We have had three others after we found that it is possible to have a house chicken. One, a Silkie whose name was Peep, was very old and passed away due to a heart attack as she was lounging in her bed of shavings. We have three house chickens now: one rooster (Henry) and two little hens (Lucy and Heather). They all live in the same cage and are very happy with their lot in life. They provide us with an entertaining atmosphere and lay fresh eggs every day (the hens, not the rooster). Although many people find it odd that we have, “. . . chickens? In the house?”, they have become a much-loved addition to our family. Here are some common misconceptions about having house chickens and some information about how they can be very rewarding household pets.
1. Chickens smell too much to keep them in the house.
Although this really depends on your preference for the cleanliness of your home, it is not true that chickens are automatically disgusting. The smell usually originates from large breeds or from more than one chicken, but one or two bantams in your house won’t necessarily make the room smell like a chicken coop. Like any animal, including exotic birds conventionally kept in the house, it all depends on how often they are cleaned. One exception, though: broody poop. A broody hen will stink no matter her size, but she is easily cleaned up and will poop much less during the day than normal.
2. Chickens are too noisy, especially roosters.
Well . . . yes and no. This really depends on how noisy your house is already. If you are a two or three person household with very little activity, then yes - chickens will bring noise into your home. However, if you already have an active household, then chickens are no more disruptive than any other bird. They don’t cackle and screech all day. A happy chicken is a quiet chicken. If your house chickens are content, then they will be quiet.
Please note that quiet does not mean silent! They do make some noise, especially roosters, but our house rooster tends to crow at very specific times of the day (and when we are on the phone). His crow is not little, but we are all used to it. Also, if we keep his cage covered and dark during the night, it lengthens the time before he sees the morning light and wakes up.
Our little hens are also quiet. The difference between just a couple of hens and our situation is that our little trio makes noises more suited for a flock. In general, hens will talk to you when they lay an egg, when they are getting ready to lay an egg, and when you sneeze (which is hilarious – let out a big sneeze and they start to cackle in surprise).
With three in our house, they do talk to each other, but when we had just the one, he was very content watching us throughout the day. With just a couple of hens, the noise level can be similarly low. Since we are in our house all day every day, our lone rooster had a lot of entertainment and cuddling. If you don’t have this kind of activity in your house, get at least two chickens. They are flock animals and need the company.
3. Chickens need more space than they get in the house.
Chickens are opportunists. Although the inside cage should be large enough to provide them with a comfortable amount of space, they can be very content being treated like any other house-bird. Parrots, parakeets, and every bird in between are made to live in large, open spaces, but they can live very happily in your house. Chickens are no different, if you pay attention to the breed and size.
I would not recommend keeping a full size bird in the house at all. Bantams are the right size for house living; full size birds need several square feet of space, which is more than a house chicken’s life can provide. Some bantam breeds do need the space, as well. Some bantams, like bantam leghorns, can be very high energy and active. Other breeds, like bantam frizzle cochins, would thrive indoors. Breeds like Seramas don’t handle winter weather well, which also makes them good candidates for house living.
In my experience, once a chicken is brought into the house, they will take some time to adjust to their living space, but they will settle down within a week or two and will happily enjoy watching your daily routine. Provide perches, though! Most chickens need to perch. Giving a chicken a cage with no perch is like putting you in a room without a chair. They need something to sit on, even if it’s only six inches off the floor of their cage.
Stuff You May Want to Consider:
There are different preferences for keeping house chickens. Some people train their chickens and are able to have them loose in the house, while supervised. Other people use chicken diapers, which I tried and never used again. We don’t do either, but both are options that are worth checking out.
Our house is not chicken-proof, so we don’t let them loose. Chicken-proof is worse than toddler-proof, since toddlers can’t fly. Our chickens stay in their cage most of the time. We put them in the outside chicken coop during the summer days sometimes, but we have to be sure to keep them apart from the outside chickens. The two flocks are not acquainted, so it’s best to just avoid the drama.
Also, I’ve found that it takes care of a lot of worry if the house chickens and outside chickens are not kept quarantined apart from each other. That’s a decision that relies on your unique lifestyle, though. It’s not the rule, but it can make things simpler. It means than they can share feed, and they can use the same run if you wish to let your house chickens outside for a bit.
I hope this helps anyone who is thinking about getting a house chicken! They are a lot of fun and are very unique house-pets. From sitting on your lap while you are watching a movie to laying fresh eggs conveniently just a few steps from your kitchen, house chickens can provide endless companionship and entertainment!