Many people think of dogs as the ideal best friend. However, we would suggest that chickens also make great friends and wonderful additions to your family, especially if you have children. Whether you are already raising chickens with your children or considering getting them for the first time, it is important to remember that keeping them requires a lot of care and attention. Having chickens can be an exciting adventure and we have great tips to help, no matter where you are in your chicken-raising journey.
- Pick child-friendly breeds
- Just as every child has a distinct personality, certain breeds of chickens are known for their unique temperaments and personalities. With this in mind, you want to make sure that you choose a kid-friendly breed that is known for being affectionate. Some excellent options for you to consider include Silkie Bantams, Buff Orpingtons, Australorps, and the Isa Browns. The cost of the chicken will also depend on the breed you choose, so you may want to factor that into the decision-making process.
- Name The Chickens
- Is there anything sweeter than watching a child get eggcited when you tell them that they can name the chickens? When you let them choose a name, you’re showing your child that you trust them, and they’ll enjoy the feeling of responsibility. Even better, you’ll set your kids up to get involved with the care of the chicken.
- Handle With Care
- With any new addition to your flock and family, you want to teach your children to handle the birds appropriately. Children should always be supervised when in regular contact with chickens. Be sure to encourage children to always wash their hands before and after handling.
- For the safety of the children it is also important to keep the chicken away from the child’s face or to provide eye protection when handling the birds. Even tame chickens may find facial features something interesting to peck at.
- It is important that you teach your child how to pick up and handle chickens correctly so that they don’t become anxious, frightened or injured. When picking the bird up, have your child hold the chicken with both of their arms/hands; the wings should be gently pinned against the bird’s body to prevent excessive flapping, and the bird’s weight should be fully supported. If your child is too young to handle the bird appropriately, you’ll want to pick the bird up for your child, instead. Remember – birds can get injured if they are dropped. Discourage your child from squeezing the bird tightly, which might make it hard for the bird to breath.
- Additionally, petting is a great way to bond with your chicken, but it should only be done with tame chickens. If you suspect that the chicken is being aggressive, it is best not to have children try to pet it.
- Chickens can get bored and need stimulation to stay happy. You can encourage your children to play with the chickens to keep the birds mentally engaged. Young children can be the best playmates as long as the play is safe and supervised by adults.
- Encourage Eggcellent Responsibility
- What better way to encourage your children to be more responsible than placing them in charge of collecting the eggs in the morning? A healthy laying hen, at its prime, will lay eggs approximately every day. Some birds can be protective of their eggs, so it’s important to supervise during egg-collection to make sure your child is safe. Again, make sure kids wash their hands after gathering the eggs. By putting your children in charge of egg collection, you’ll allow them to assume some responsibility each day, and you’ll give them an opportunity to form a more intimate connection with the chickens.
- Find Some Poultry Pals
- There are a number of great groups in the community that cater to young, rising poultry enthusiasts. Is there a 4-H chapter or club for children who have chickens in your town? Why not sign your child up to be a member? That way, they get to make friends with other kids who have similar interests, and they’ll get plugged-in to the local community!!
- Learn Together
- Perhaps the best way to teach children to care for chickens is for you and your child to enjoy the birds together. It can be a great way to get your family outdoors and it will give you an opportunity to spend quality time with each other. In addition to collecting eggs you can try feeding the chickens and cleaning the coop with your children. If your child likes to color, the two of you can work through these coloring books together. Quiet coloring is a great activity for quality downtime and can be a good opportunity for having conversations about chicken care and raising healthy birds.
Growing up with chickens can be an incredibly rewarding experience for children. Not only do chickens add more love and happiness to your family, but they also help to teach your kids about responsibility. Additionally, raising chickens can help teach your children about food production and animal care.
Does your family raise chickens? Do you have any tips about including children in the care? Use our “Ask a Question” feature to let us know what’s on your mind