How do I keep my broiler chicks alive and happy as pets?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by katie.virginia, Oct 7, 2007.

  1. katie.virginia

    katie.virginia Hatching

    Oct 1, 2007
    This is my first post. I've been reading here for months in preparation for getting pet chickens that I will love and spoil as pets for many years. I got 8 chicks from the state fair last Sunday. I went to the fair again today and was asking some details about my chicks that I didn't ask last week. The 4H man who sold me the chicks said they are white broiler chicks made especially for the Tyson chicken factory farm down the road. I asked a chicken farmer in the show chicken tent about the broiler chicks and he says that they should not be selling them as pets because after a few weeks they will eat themselves to death and their legs will get crippled under their weight.

    This breaks my heart because I love them all so much. This is unexpected and I don't want them to die or suffer. I'm feeding them chick food from Southern States. I try to keep their food dish full. In one week they have gotten almost twice as big. Is there a way to feed them and keep them happy and alive for a long time? Can I feed them less or give them chicken vitamins to help their legs? Any advice would be so helpful. I've been tearful all day.

    Here they are at 2 days old:

    Here they are today at 9 days old:

    They are all very sweet and look at me like they love me. They all try to sit on my lap and fall asleep the palms of my hands. I take them outside and they follow me around and they make noise and are the happiest things ever.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2007
  2. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD

    Well, first off that is too bad. Second, let their feeder go empty every night and keep their food intake down. Third, if they do fall over dead due to heart problems, at least they lived a good life. They can live a while but not nearly as long as regular birds. Good luck. I personally would just dress them out and then buy some real pet type chickens.
    Folly's place and Natanya like this.
  3. buckbeak

    buckbeak Songster

    May 27, 2007
    Morgantown, PA
    I agree with SilkieChicken. Sorry, but their lives are meant to be short & I'd rather have them die quickly at a good butcher than painfully. Then you can eat them & know that you didn't contribute to the awful lives that meat industry chickens live. And then you can research breeds & get some layers that you really want that can live for a long time as your pets. I know some people here have had success at keeping some of them, but usually at least some of them die. If you decide to try to keep them, you'll probably still lose some, but really restricting their diet & allowing them to free range to get some exercise would probably be good.
    Good luck!
  4. ZuniBee

    ZuniBee Songster

    May 8, 2007
    Zuni, Virginia
    I got a Cornish X meat bird and wanted to keep him as a pet. I will tell you that it is virtually impossible. They grow so fast and constantly eat. He got so big he could hardly walk....he would just lay next to the feed and eat. He was the size of a small turkey at 13 weeks.

    If you are going to try to keep them as pets I would only give them a certain amount of food per day. Unfortunately, they are bred to be meat birds.
  5. hinkjc

    hinkjc Crowing

    Jan 11, 2007
    katie - we raised one for almost 7 months. See post number 7 at the following link.

    That was Snowball, our cornish cross hen. She lived with our buff orpington flock and even started laying eggs. It's up to you what you decide to do.

  6. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress

    Sep 6, 2007
    Corydon, Indiana
    Katie, How awful, and I'm sorry to say that this is a cruel world for chickens. Do you think it would help if you got a few more normal chickens (egglayers), it might be easier to accept their deaths if you have a flock of them. I have at least 2 of every pet because I know I would dwell over one's death, and having 2 helps me not dwell on a death. You can't change what's already happened, try to accept that, and go on from here, and spoil them rotten. Karen
  7. helmstead

    helmstead Songster

    Mar 12, 2007
    Alfordsville, IN
    I had a Cornish Rock named Glory who lived to the ripe old age of 18 months. She was witnessed falling out of a Tyson Chicken truck traveling 60 mph down Hwy. 369 out of Gainesville (the chicken capital of the world LOL). A vet stitched her up (torn skin under one wing) and she healed well. She was rescued by a fellow horse person with no chicken knowledge - so she was raised free range with a little 12% equine sweet feed until she was 6 months, when I adopted her. She was healthy and sweet (because she was kept thinish) until she finally died of egg peritonitis (yep, these chickens DO lay...a little). There is some hope...just keep her starved.

    The meat birds we've raised have had a 50% mortality rate on average. The longest we've kept them going was 26 weeks (and they were the size of a small turkey) when we just felt too sorry for them that they couldn't walk well.
  8. Haviris

    Haviris Songster

    Sep 4, 2007
    I've had lots of Tyson chickens and they would normally live a few years, I'd say 3-5, as long as preditors don't get them. Just take good care of them and do the best you can, if they do die you know you did what you could for them. Most of ours have fallen from the backs of trucks, you see alot dead on the road, but occationally some survive.

    Yesterday my sister brought me a new baby, they were giving them away as prizes at the Fall Festival she went to, they didn't play, but a kid that had one just came up and gave it to her. I don't really think it's a good idea, they are just tiny babies and most those kids probably aren't going to know how to take care of them. They had them in little plastic containers that I think they normally sell flowers in. Either way he's here now and hopefully will have a nice long life (and hopefully is a she).
  9. chickenbutt

    chickenbutt In the Brooder

    Oct 8, 2007
    Richmond, Virginia
    Haviris, thank you for your encouraging post. 3-5 years is a lot longer than a couple of months. I'm a lot less emotional today and I'm leaning toward keeping them and keeping them happy for as lons as I can. We'll build a chicken coop soon so they will have a place to live when they get bigger and more independant. Right now they are in a large tupperwar box and maybe they'll live in the tub until the house is built. We're going to run power to it, too.

    Last night we ordered show chickens online so we'll get those soon. I hate factory farms and I don't eat meat so this will be my part to help the system 8 chickens at a time.
  10. chickenbutt

    chickenbutt In the Brooder

    Oct 8, 2007
    Richmond, Virginia
    Hemstead, that is good that you raise meat chicks, too. I will try to keep them thin. If they are lame maybe the vet has a shot for them like cats and dogs. I'd rather dig a hole than have to think of someone eating them.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: