When it comes to raising and caring for chickens, Children present a major concern for many aspiring backyard chicken owners.
Plenty of folks have the space and the interest, but hesitate due to kid concerns. Some worry that the chickens might harm their kids, while others worry that the kids might hurt the chickens (not good in either case).
The fact is, with a little planning and preparation, there’s absolutely nothing to worry about. A flock of backyard chickens can actually be loads of fun and a wonderful learning opportunity for your kids.
How to Prepare Your Kids for Chickens
While backyard chickens are just beginning to catch on in the US, families across Europe have been keeping chickens as pets for decades.
And for good reasons, chickens provide nourishment for our families in the form of fresh eggs and meat.
Plus, chickens actually make wonderful pets, and as you get to know their unique personalities, they’ll become well-loved members of your family.
You can prepare your kids for caring for chickens in a few specific ways:
Teach your kids to be calm and respectful around the chickens. Playing noisily or boisterously around the chickens can scare them – making them more likely to peck or fight. That doesn't mean that kids shouldn't play with chickens. It just means that kids should learn how to play with them.
A flock of backyard chickens needs as much care as any other pet.
If your kids are going to be involved in caring for chickens, it’s important to establish a sense of responsibility in them.
Feeding, care and cleanliness cannot be neglected, so get your kids ready for the commitment before launching into chicken ownership.
Remember that it might take a little time for your kids and chickens to get used to each other.
Start out by introducing your kids to the chickens slowly. Keep the birds locked up at first, and allow your kids to help with supervised feeding, watering and egg collection.
The hens will soon grow comfortable around your kids, and they’ll be able to co-exist without any issues.
Get Your Kids Involved
Caring for chickens is a great way for your kids to learn responsibility. Your children can participate in daily feeding and care, and even in caring for new chicks.
The best way to successfully keep backyard chickens in a home with kids is to get your kids involved from the get-go.
The sooner your chickens get used to your kids, the better. It’ll be a learning process, but the benefits will be fully evident as your kids learn and grow with your chickens.
Things to Watch Out For and Be Aware of
Much like a puppy, your chickens will leave their droppings everywhere. Chickens are fairly clean animals overall; however, it’s important to watch what your kids are playing with – and where they’re playing. As long as you keep basic hygiene in mind (keep toys and little hands washed after playing outside), your kids shouldn't face any real risks.
While chickens are lovely pets, they don’t deal with stress as well as a dog or cat. Hens are actually known for having heart attacks from sudden stress. If your kids are prone to rowdy play or if you have new kids over who aren't experienced with chickens, you may want to put your chickens back in their coop. In time, your kids will learn how to interact properly with the chickens and they’ll be able to get along quite nicely.
Hens are typically docile creatures; however, roosters can be just the opposite. Roosters tend to be territorial and very protective. If they feel threatened, they are quite likely to attack. A rooster’s low-flying attack can be dangerous (or at least very frightening) for a young child, so this factor is something to consider seriously before adding a rooster to your flock.
Spending a little time teaching your kids will make a huge difference in how well your flock adapts to your family and how well your family (kids) adapt to your flock.