Are Your Chickens Livestock or Pets?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Morrigan, Sep 19, 2018.

  1. BantyChooks

    BantyChooks Pullarius

    Aug 1, 2015
    My Coop
    Both, I guess. The LF chickens are livestock, and I'll cull (kill/sell) non-laying or extra ones. Sick birds get killed, mostly, and so do injured ones unless it's something easy to fix. Bantams are pets in that I don't keep track of their laying to determine who stays, but I will eat extras or dispatch sick ones. Haven't had to do the latter yet, bantams are tough old birds. Ditto with the quail: I don't have any breeding program or even eat their eggs, so I can't rightly classify them as livestock, but I'm not attached to them either. Extra males will be eaten. Ducks (x7) are pets, and if they get injured I'll try my best short of a vet visit to fix them. If they fall ill, they'll be culled, because even pets are no fun if they are sickly. I don't need income from these birds to survive, so I'm willing to have a few groups or species that aren't economically necessary. I have them because I can. Simple as that. Still, even the ducks, which I have solely because they make me smile with their antics, end up paying their own feed bill because of how much they lay. Some months they outpace the Leghorns.

    Actually, right now I only have one chicken that I wouldn't eat or sell because of personal value alone. I have a few more that are valuable for genetics, or for how well they lay, but they too will get their turn in the oven when they're old. I give them a good life, and a good death. Better than letting them waste away with arthritis and cloudy vision.

    I kept a 9 year old hen once. She was dignified and chipper, but not in the best of shape. She was overweight, she limped, she sat around a lot. I got her at age six, and gave her back to her original owner just last winter for some extra care that I couldn't provide. I don't like seeing my birds like that. I'd rather that they went to feed my family while they could still run and play and find all the bugs they wanted.
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2018
  2. Col1948

    Col1948 Songster

    Sep 9, 2018
    Manchester UK
    I've only had my chickens for a few weeks, I'm finding it interesting and I've learned a lot from the guys on this forum.
    As for pets or livestock, my grandkids named them so I now know them by their names, if they hadn't done it I doubt I would have named them.
    So up to now I'm well out of pocket, I've spent a lot of money on coops, first one I got out of ignorance was too small, so I bought a shed and converted it, but needed more timber for the inside to make it a coop.
    I have 5 chickens, 2 are laying eggs, 1 of them at the moment is laying soft shell eggs, if I catch them in time before she steps on them I crack them open and put them in a dish.
    The other 1 lays perfect eggs, but the other 3 are not laying at all yet, but 2 of them are newly introduced so may be they need time to settle.

    I bought them as advertised, 'Point of Lay' so they are young, again they probably need time, I've spent money of getting the right bedding, feed, even got vitamins for them.
    I go shopping for food and sometimes get something that I think they might like to eat, they free range all day but I like to give them a treat now and again.

    To be honest I would like them all to be laying eggs, perhaps in a few months they will, but if none do, after reading this thread, what do I do with them, keep them as pets, I have never killed an animal so I'm not sure if I could kill one of the chickens.

    This brings me to some of the posts above, some say they are livestock, but how many have dogs or cats that are not producing anything, why don't they kill them?
  3. Saaniya

    Saaniya Crowing

    Aug 31, 2017
    New Delhi India
    Pets & am vegan ;)
  4. BantyChooks

    BantyChooks Pullarius

    Aug 1, 2015
    My Coop
    Because they're pets, not livestock. It's just a matter of classification. Even then, cats kill mice and dogs scare off things that eat chickens. So not entirely useless.

    I wouldn't kill and eat a dog. They're intelligent, even more than some humans, lol, and their role in society is generally that of a pet. They're still edible though, and if you handed me a plate with dog steak on it, I'd probably try it. Same deal with horses. At some point everything comes down to how society works, but doesn't have to be a bad thing. Picking and choosing between favoured species isn't evil.
  5. Col1948

    Col1948 Songster

    Sep 9, 2018
    Manchester UK
    @BantyChooks, Yes that's true, but I live in the suburbs and the word Back Yard Chickens is more what mine are.
    I've read posts on here where some live in rural areas and have large acres of land with lots of chickens and other animals, well in those cases the Cats and Dogs are in a way producing.

    People like me and perhaps a few others don't have mice or predictors, I live in Manchester UK on a housing estate, I am fortunate to have a large garden that the chickens can free range, plus it is fenced off on all sides.
    Morrigan, puffypoo22 and BantyChooks like this.
  6. BantyChooks

    BantyChooks Pullarius

    Aug 1, 2015
    My Coop
    No mice?? Hot diggety, sign me up!
    You're exactly right. And hence why this thread was started... to try and see a little more about different perspectives that people have.
  7. dunnmom

    dunnmom Crowing

    Mar 30, 2016
    My 4 year old knows way more about where his food comes from than his classmates. It’s been an excellent teaching tool, that he’s been gung-ho about since day 1. He also knows quite a bit about eggs because he asks so many questions. “Is there a baby chick inside of this egg?”, and “Why not?”. So, now he knows the difference between a fertilized and unfertilized egg, and what makes it possible to have chicks hatch out of eggs. He participates in their care, and knows how to properly hold a chicken of any age. 3 out of our 4 kids love the chickens. One is afraid of them, but he’s afraid of dogs and cats, too.
  8. Molpet

    Molpet Crossing the Road

    Mainly livestock
    I didn't like the way the grocery store eggs or poultry was raised and I didn't want to go vegan. ..
    I get a kick out of people who tell me they couldn't kill an animal, so they buy it at the store.. I guess they think the store sells fake meat :gig.. or that hiring a "hit man" resolves them of all involvement :hmm The plain truth is eating meat causes the death of an animal. I want the animals to have as good of life as possible...
    I try not to name the poultry, but some end up acquiring a name anyway.
  9. chickendreams24

    chickendreams24 Crowing

    Jul 30, 2015
    Wisconsin, USA
    Like many people here I think this is a loaded and subjective question.

    That being said I'm somewhere in the middle for sure. Mostly our chickens are livestock, but livestock that we do our absolute best to do right by. Yes any livestock should likewise be treated. They free range and enjoy kitchen scraps. They all have their own personalities and I come to know most of them.

    Mostly we breed and keep rare heritage breeds.

    Those that don't make the cut either are not ever bred or are culled and eaten. We separate birds for breeding otherwise all the breeds run together.

    Our spare cockerals and excess, nonproductive or aging hens also are all culled and eaten. However we do have some birds that have crossed the line between pet and livestock and they will live out their natural lives here so long as they aren't suffering. Our pet birds are also layers and breeders in some cases.

    Some of our strictly livestock birds also have names, usually names that fit them or their personalities. It's possible they can make the switch to pet but it's very uncommon.

    While we generally won't take a bird to the vet. Although if we had easy access and the money I might consider it for some of them depending on the ailment(ie injury). We do treat them at home to the best of our abilities. Luckily our flock is extremely healthy and generally if we have to treat a bird it's something simple like a small wound etc. We have also dealt with cocci.

    Last year our flock was diagnosed with Marek's disease after approximately 5 birds had mysterious symptoms. The first was sent off for a necropsy and we got the results. All subsequent birds are given a day or two to show improvement before they are culled. The reason for this is twofold; birds with an active infection shed more virus and number two we've never had a bird survive our strain of Marek's.

    It was a hard decision but we couldn't cull all of the birds we had and considering only maybe 10-15 birds total have ever shown symptoms we decided to close the flock. No birds ever leave our property alive once they've been exposed. I would also like to point out that we used strict quarantine rules with our flock before the Marek's came in and especially since finding it.

    So back to the question all of our birds are treated with love, respect and kindness. We work to make sure they all trust us and even their last moments for those that are eaten are calm. They all receive the best care we can give and live as close to a natural life as possible. They entertain me and provide us with more than just eggs and meat. They're chicken therapy, garden helpers, compost makers/turners, grass aerators, egg and meat makers, friends, bug and mice eaters, rototillers, berry thieves, recyclers, entertainment, and so much more.

    I grew up on a small farm. I was a sensitive child the ducks and our rooster became pets to my brothers and I the hens did not in the same way. My father processed the chickens and ducks when we were at school and we were devestated. I never thought I would own so many chickens as an adult let alone that we would butcher our own.(we've broken nearly 200 this summer, but that number will continue to go down as the growing out cockerals are culled). We live in one of DH2B's family's houses and are surrounded by 300+ acres of their farmland in the immediate field alone. The chickens have the run of this land during the day. We have seen birds up to half a mile to the north and south and maybe a quarter mile east. They seldon go farther west than the road except lately just on the other side of it.

    I feel for each bird we lose, some more than others. The ones that have become like pets to me are of course the hardest to lose. I cry. I cried for the first cockeral we processed as I hid in the house while DH2B culled him(we use the killing cone method) I have helped with the rest of the process since the beginning. I realized the necessity of processing and although its still not "easy" it has become easier most of the time. One of the things we breed for is docile roosters and that can make it more difficult when a cull is a gentle sweet bird. For the first time ever this summer I processed my first two birds start to finish in one day. That is to say all by myself. I was proud to say the least. These roosters were made easier because they attacked my dog which got them a one way ticket to freezer camp.

    So most of our chickens are livestock but some are pets(and will never be eaten).

    One thing I never thought I would find with chickens before getting them is that they are much more intelligent in most cases than people let on. Maybe people don't realize. Idk. Many of my flock are incredibly intelligent and have learned their names as well as a few simple tricks and words and I'm not just talking about the word treat.
    Mimi’s 13, PattyNH, Molpet and 2 others like this.
  10. Morrigan

    Morrigan Free Ranging

    Apr 9, 2014
    N. California
    That's how I feel. Since I've starting raising chickens, I don't buy chicken meat and never order it anymore when I eat out. As hard as it is to kill something I raised to eat, I'd rather do that then eat a supermarket chicken knowing how it was raised. I did consider veganism for awhile, but ended up being comfortable raising my own meat and eating less meat in general.

    I've really enjoyed reading the wide variety of responses here. Thank you for everyone who has responded. It's been interesting to me how widely definitions of what is a "pet" and what is "livestock" are. I labeled my chickens as livestock, because I have them primarily for food purposes -- eggs and meat -- and I am OK with culling (selling or eating) those that weren't serving that purpose. But, if you saw my day-to-day interactions, you would probably think they are pets. I talk to them, I care about them, I'm always looking for ways to improve the quality of their life. I guess you could say they are pets until that one day they are livestock, lol.

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