Are chickens pets or livestock??? The Great Debate!


10 Years
Sep 23, 2009
Northern California
I think the difference is in the purpose of the animal and not really the animal itself. For instance, when I think of livestock I think of something that is kept for a specific purpose such as food or because it has a job to do (i.e. a herding dog). The animal crosses the line into being a pet when it is mainly a companion and would be kept regardless of whether it produced or did anything at all.

This is the reason why animals such as a pot belly pig or a chicken can be either one depending on who is keeping it.


In the Brooder
9 Years
Mar 19, 2010
Lakeland Florida
They are what you want them to be! This is my first time raising chickens, and I love it but it has also been hard! I have raised rabbits and a few pigs from time to time for the food! My wife would get all nicey nice with them and I would have to remind her that was dinner she was making friends with! I never had a problem when the time came to move them into the frezer, I did not have fun doing it but I also didn't lose sleep about it. Well We started out with 4 RIR this spring that we got as chicks from the feed store. Well I really really enjoyed the process of watching them grow up. When I started out if they did not produce eggs they would become meat birds! Well just in the past two weeks we come to find out that 3 of the 4 are roo's!
Now we can't have roo's where I live, We knew this from the begining. You know what I had done? I had made friends with dinner! We looked to find them new homes with out luck. So last weekend they all started to crow at 5:30 in the morning on a saturnday, So I knew what I had to do. It was hard it killed me to have to do this but I did. Me big tuff guy all upset on just a few chickens!!! Well with just one hen left, I felt that from now on they are pets that make me breakfest! from now on I will only buy pullets! Well the upsideof the story is I got my first egg today and I felt like a proud papa! so when it comes to chickens I am a sucker!!! I will stick with other livestock for meat.!!


9 Years
Jun 25, 2010
Both--- While I am sad about the fact that we will be eating a few of these birds, that is their purpose. I treat all animals with respect and try and befriend them. I knew Grandpa's cows were livestock but to me they were big pets and were fun to talk to. I don't treat livestock less than... This is my first year with the chickens and as such I am sure I am more enthused to enjoy them but we will be eating their eggs and we will be eating their meat.

If we had a cow I am sure I would be doing the same.


9 Years
Jun 26, 2010
Holland, VT
After posting a picture on Facebook of my two Blue Slate poults napping on my husband, I was asked, "what happened to dogs and cats as pets" by a friend of my son. Another person responded, "chickens ARE the new cats and dogs". My birds are both pets and livestock. I admit that the ones I have hatched are a bit more special than the others but since I grew up around livestock whos main purpose was to produce either meat or milk, I don't lose sleep if one has to go in the freezer. This may sound cruel but it was a way of life in the not too distant past for a lot of people and it seems that a lot more people are returning to those roots to become more self sufficent or just to KNOW where their food comes from, what it has been fed and how it has been raised.

So my answer is, both. They are livestock that are my pets.

Marshmallow Man

9 Years
Aug 7, 2010
Livestock to me. To my 7 year old they are pets. To my wife they are in between. When our Bourbon hen flew out of her enclosure my daughter cried, my wife couldn't sleep that night, I was upset because she is laying eggs that hatch and turn into Pullets that we sell. She came back the next day and we were all happy. Predators make me furious. They not only destroy an animal that takes months to make productive. They also show me a fault in my system that is used to protect the birds. I really get upset when I can't figure out how they breached my security system.
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Free Ranging
12 Years
Feb 14, 2008
This world is not my home.
Mrs. K :

If you like animals, you care for them properly. However, you must remember that they are animals, and can and sometimes will hurt you, one must always respect this part of any animal. People who raise livestock for a living are not sadistic people who hate animals. They love animals, work hard for their animals, and often times the wildlife also benefits from open water all winter, salt licks, and spilled or extra feed.

I don't let my birds jump on me, I would not like that. But I do talk to them and take them treats. I do not mourn for days if one dies, I accept it that death is a fact of life but I do miss them. And a predator does make me mad, and I work harder to protect them.

I talk to my girls every day, enjoy watching their silliness, and some are more special than others. I will be butchering some of the chicks that I am raising right now, but they are getting the same treatment as the pullets that I will keep. I like having chickens, and I like getting new chickens, I vastly enjoyed hatching baby chickens this summer.

However, I do have a limited space, and a limited need for chickens, so the old and the roosters will have to go to make way for the new.

I guess, I don't see it as pets, or livestock, but as a realist.


What she said!

The simple fact of the matter is can call any animal a pet. Chickens are a food animal and humans eat millions of them per year. They do not eat that many cats, dogs, or least not stateside.
Chickens can not be potty trained nor can they go camping with you, they don't want to sleep in your bed, you can try taking them for a walk but it probably won't be too successful.

Face it, as pets, chickens are merely chickens. You can pet them, feed them treats, name them, even put diapers on them but in the end, they are primarily chickens and only fair pets, at best. If you never fed them but they were only fed by a machine, they would not eagerly come towards you when you entered their environment nor would they flock at your feet or follow you around. You are the food bringer.

Dogs and cats, on the other hand, would still want your companionship if you were not the source of their food. They would still run eagerly to you when you came home and still try to comfort you when you are sad. I doubt your chickens give a flying fart whether you are sad or not.

At my place, practicality wins out. Chickens are livestock and dogs and cats are pets. I treat my chickens kindly, protect them, take steps to see that they are content and healthy....and then I eat them when they are no longer productive.​


9 Years
Feb 9, 2010
Livestock. I enjoy my chickens-- but, they have a job to do and when they are no longer able to give me the eggs they are outta here. I have been told that 2-2 1/2 years is the MAX that you would want to keep a hen around after that they start to lay less. I have to be practical about it because I have a tendency to get really attached to things. I can't afford to feed them if I am not getting anything out of the deal (eggs).

Also, I have one RIR that used to jump up on me when she was little. I thought it was cute for a while... wait until you are wearing a shirt that you don't want to get stained and they have muddy feet. Not so cute anymore.
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