Raising chicken with kids

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by whitejerabias, Dec 13, 2011.

  1. whitejerabias

    whitejerabias Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 6, 2011
    My co parent for my flock will be an amazing four year old girl. We've been leasing a pony this fall and to see my girl around these huge beasts? Wow. She shovels *ahem* right alongside me and is up for any task I can throw at her. She is cautious, confident and brave. She is very proud of herself.I want to include her in as much of the process as possible, from collecting eggs to deep cleaning the coop. Lets have chat about teaching our kids to be better parents than we are. [​IMG]

    What are some easy jobs young kids can be taught to do? Collecting eggs, feeding and watering...
    Do you have any 'coop rules'?
    What are certain safeguards you've taken to protect your children? Your flock?
    Do you keep a rooster? Do you worry about it and what different restrictions do you kids have around him vs the hens?
    Have you had a chicken die/get hurt/killed? How old was you child and how did it effect them?
    Has your child been aware if you culled a bird? How have those discussions gone?
  2. hensandchickscolorado

    hensandchickscolorado Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 14, 2011
    Englewood Colorado
    I have a 5 year old daughter who is also my chicken co-pilot [​IMG].

    She was 4 1/2 when we got our chicks. One died when it was a few weeks old, and it was a hard lesson to learn, although I think valuable. She witnessed the entire thing (injury, death, burial) and we spent a lot of time talking about it in the weeks that followed. She was sad, but fine. That said, when we lost another bird later, that time around I just told her that the bird went to live with the doctor we brought it to since he had a better coop. I couldn't do the death thing twice in 2 months!

    A few things I've learned: kids don't always remember the rules (shut the nesting box door, don't let the dog near the chicks, etc.), and while this entire thing really does teach some great responsibility, and kids will take it seriously (at least mine does), you still have to double check their work. They slip up and ultimately the birds are your responsibility, not theirs (at this young age, anyway).

    At first, we did a lot of fake pecks on each other so that we assured ourselves that if we were pecked by real chickens we wouldn't freak out. My daughter still freaks out (and has only been pecked once, ever) when chicks come running at her (which they love to do as she often has treats).

    My daughter does love to collect eggs and takes it on as her personal job every day. Counting and sorting eggs is a daily math lesson in our house.

    There are tons of children chicken (non-fiction) books at the library. We learned almost as much from them as I do from this forum! They were a great way to learn some chicken vocabulary and look at pictures of different types of chickens.

    Our only real rule is that we must wear chicken boots outside and leave them at the door. Oh, and she also has to put veggies we don't eat in the container for the chick treats [​IMG]. Oh, one more, we always say "thank you" to our chicks when we collect their eggs!

    Hope you have lots of fun, and feel free to message me if you have any other questions!!
  3. whitejerabias

    whitejerabias Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 6, 2011
    Awesome! I'm sorry you had to have such a hard lesson right at the beginning though. I can't wait to actually start this project. How do you practice hen pecks?
  4. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

    Apr 15, 2009
  5. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j True BYC Addict

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    We live on a farm. Our kids were raised around animals and learned early about life and death. I agree with CMV that the pet/livestock line does get blurred when it comes to poultry. Our chickens were never pets. They gave us eggs, then meat. We don't name them. We had a steer when the boys were young. I didn't name him. They did. They named him Butch because "We're going to butcher him anyway, Mom" They were 6, 8 and 10 at the time. I think it's good for kids to learn about animals and how to care for them. It's also good for them to learn that things happen and animals die. It's a hard lesson, but I believe it helps them learn to deal with loss later on in life, too. Whether it be the death of a loved one, or a friend moving away or something else. Good for you for wanting your child to have the experience of caring and being responsible for your animals.
  6. mommyofthreewithchicks

    mommyofthreewithchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 25, 2010
    I have three kids 8, 6 and 5. We have now had the chickens for 2 years and they have been learning along side me. In general they are supposed to have an adult with them, this summer I found out I had a sneaky kid giving extra scratch every time he was out. They Love collecting the eggs with me and love throwing the scratch and of course chicks.

    I have butchered a chicken, actually cut our numbers by half. I have tried to be honest with them and myself, we will eat chickens and therefore they will die to make that happen. Kids are still naming them.... Silkies they take to the fair and are in general their pets and with being so small they don't get eaten.

    We did have a nasty rooster that would chase the boys and me around. I tried to reform him for a few months... He turned into stew and the kids cheered. Kids have a respect for the rooster though and know that they really should have an adult around with the chickens. When they cheered for the rooster I knew we kept him around too long.

    Kids show at the fair and have learned so much. I also brought chicks to school last year so the kids could share their experience.

    With the turkeys I don't want them in that pen without me or Dad. They are bigger and gave me a beating with their wings when I have had to pick them up. (still deciding if they are good in the flock). Have not had a turkey charge at me like a rooster. As for the ducks they too have not charged or fought with the hand that feeds them.

    I think for the most part the animals are great life lessons that I am giving the kids.
  7. Back on the Farm

    Back on the Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 9, 2011
    I have two kids, 7 & 13. We got the chickens almost a year ago. I grew up on a farm and we recently moved back on the farm. From the beginning my boys have known that the chickens are food. I bought the two ducks as pets. My oldest hunts and my youngest can't wait to join him. Kids need to know where their food comes from as well as how to raise 'food' animal & veggie. My kids help me take care of both animals and veggie garden. I want to know that no matter what happens in this world that my kids will know how to feed & take care of themselves. They are also learning how to can & freeze food properly.
    Raising and taking care of animals is a great learning experience for kids. Just remember they are kids & as adults we need to make sure that the animals aren't missed when our 'responsible' kid suddenly has a kid moment.
  8. Mommy 2 Wee Ones

    Mommy 2 Wee Ones Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 19, 2011
    North Texas
    I have a 4 & 6 year old, my 4 year old is my Chicken Whisper, she can scoop up chickens with no problem. Both know not to bother our roo, Owl is a good roo and does not chase, if he does the dance around us, I point to the hens and tell him to dance for them. Our chickens are named.

    The girls collect the eggs, feed them treats and help to herd them into the run when we have to leave the house. They are not allowed to free range when we are not home.

    The girls are not allowed in the run if the door is closed & the chickens are in the run, we have a few that like to escape. When the chickens were chicks, they learned to proper way to hold them, and as they grew, learned to hold them as they got bigger. We have not done culling yet, but I have discussed getting meat birds & the difference between the meat chickens & egg chickens.
    My 4 year old said when one of our egg hens dies, we could then eat it. I also told them that the meat chickens were not pets, that we would be eating them, and they said "Okay".

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