Members of the chicken community know that raising kids and chickens together is a great experience, but for those that have not joined the flock yet, you may not think that maintaining a household featuring children and chickens is a good combination. Some may have concerns about health issues that can arise from the fowl and others may believe that owning chickens is just too time-consuming and impossible when trying to raise children.
The truth is that there are not too many things out there that would be better than having a small flock in the backyard and a toddler hanging around with them. Raising chickens around kids is not only an excellent educational opportunity. It can also help kids learn many of the life lessons that they are going to need to understand as they get older anyway, except it will make it a lot easier for them to comprehend.
Here we will discuss the many benefits of raising children and chickens together and also a couple of the downsides (if we can find any).
Children Are Naturally Curious
Any parent will tell you that their kids are curious. They’re always running around exploring and putting their hands all over everything. This disposition is natural, of course, and it’s necessary for children to learn how things work and why, as well as cause and effect. Kids are also like cute little sponges, they soak up all the bits of information they come across and save it for later.
If you raise a few backyard chickens you will undoubtedly encounter a time where your child will start asking questions. For example, if they happen to see a new chick running around, they may ask where it came from. This innocent query is a great chance for you to explain about eggs and how an egg can turn into a baby chicken. Depending on the age of your child it may be too soon to explain the entire process, but just learning that that is how a baby chicken can come about could blow their adorable little minds.
Chickens Make Great Pets
Chickens can be trained to be tame and enjoy being picked up and carefully snuggled, just like a cat or dog. That means that it could make a good household pet. Luckily, unlike dogs and most cats, they are highly self-sufficient animals, so you don’t have to dedicate as much time to them as would any other pet.
While they can usually find enough food out in the yard to keep them fat and happy, they’ll only require about 10-15 minutes a day to take care of all their needs. It’s really a small investment of time that can lead to very rewarding results.
With a pet chicken you can end up getting a great family pet without all the extra costs and attention involved. They are also easy to take care of, which means you can probably even pass off the little responsibilities that are involved, like spreading pellets around and keeping the water bowl fresh and clean, to the kids.
Great Bonding Experience And A Chance To Learn Life Lessons
Those of us that have maintained a backyard flock for a while already know what great entertainment you can get from owning chickens. Watching them forage around the yard for hours is a good way to pass the time. Imagine if you could make that a weekend event with the family.
Making a plan to have a BBQ or picnic every weekend out in the backyard would allow for a lot of extra bonding time with the kids. It would also give the kids a chance to play with the chickens while being supervised and allow for a little extra fun in the sun. Unlike a large dog, you don’t have to worry about a small child getting knocked over or trampled by chickens. Your kids will enjoy it and you will probably have many photo opportunities, too.
You also have the coop cleaning to consider. This necessary task is not only a good bonding experience, but it can also help to teach your child about responsibility. By explaining why it’s important and necessary to keep a clean coop, and having them put in some actual manual labor, they’ll learn one of the harder life lessons, which is that life is not all fun and games. It’s a tough lesson, so maybe you ought to clean the coop before the BBQ, and then use that as a nice reward?
Small children are always eager to listen and learn. By bringing them around the run and the coop, and teaching them the ins and outs of running a little chicken farm in the backyard, and especially by allowing them to help you, you will be instilling great work ethic and building other important characteristics that will be beneficial to them when they are adults.
They will learn to appreciate the value of growing their own food and understanding how their favorite fried chicken or eggs they eat are being supplied. This bit of knowledge will surely leave a mark on them and in the future when it is their turn to be parents, they will probably end up teaching their children the same thing that you taught them when they were young. At the very least they’ll have some great “back in my day” stories to tell.
Learning About The Circle Of Life
It’s inevitable when owning pets that you will eventually come across one that has kicked the bucket. That goes for chickens, cats, fish, dogs, or any other animal one might own. One good thing about chickens is they can reproduce quickly as it only takes about 3 weeks for an egg to hatch.
Also a child is a little less likely to form as much of an emotional attachment to a chicken as they would a dependent and cuddly cat or dog. That means it will not hurt as bad if and when you lose a chicken, and it will be a good chance for your child to learn that things die, and there’s not much we can do about it.
You will also be able to teach them about how chickens help to sustain the family. Whether you are raising chickens just for their eggs and entertainment, or to also enjoy a fresh roasted chicken from time to time, it’s a great learning experience that can teach survival and compassion. When children are young these types of lessons are just a part of life as they haven’t formed a mature enough mind to understand what losing a pet really means and they’re usually quick to get over a little trauma, so it’s your chance to teach them while they’re young and maybe their adult life will be a little easier.
We should be balanced and so we have to make sure to mention a couple of downsides to owning chickens while raising children.
We alluded to one of them earlier mentioning health concerns. Chickens aren’t exactly the cleanest animals in the world. After all, they clean themselves by covering themselves with dust and dirt. They also tend to walk around in chicken feces a lot and are known to occasionally peck at and eat said feces. They can also get bacterial infections and other diseases, some of which can be passed to humans.
Obviously having a child rolling around in an unsanitary chicken run is not a good idea. When raising children and chickens together it is imperative that you take special care to make sure your children are always washing their hands after handling the chickens or being in the run, period.
Practicing good hygiene when they’re young will help them when they get older, too. Also, as a good chicken owner, you will need to always pay close attention to your flock, so if there are any ill birds in the flock you can take care of them immediately before they’ve had a chance to infect the rest of them.
Watch Out For Roosters!
Lastly, we mentioned earlier that you don’t usually have to worry about the chickens running a child over. While you don’t have to worry about that per se, you do have to watch out for territorial roosters and mother hens. Sometimes a mama chicken will get a little too overprotective of her babies (just like people) and will peck at anything that comes around her precious chicks (which obviously will be the first thing any child will want to pick up and cuddle with), so you will need to look out for that.
Also, a rooster in a flock is there to protect his hens and chicks, so if a child comes barging in looking like a threat, a rooster may attack. As long as you teach your child not to go running in there and to be slow and gentle when around the chickens, you shouldn’t have too much trouble with this.