Hello, my name is Elmien. I live in Kempton Park with my 7 cats, 4 dogs and 1 little rooster, most of them rescues. I am a vegetarian. I have a very soft spot when it comes to any animal and would do anything I can to make their lives just a little easier. I believe this huge love for animals are my blessing from God. I have a full time job, so taking care of the needs of all these little angels can be challenging sometimes. I also have a horse that I stable in Benoni. That is where I rescued my little rooster. His mom was trampled by a horse when he was just 5 days old and I got to him just in time. None of the other hens wanted to except the little guy. That is how he ended up with me.
Where in the world are you?
Kempton Park, South Africa
How many chickens do you have?
One stunning little rooster with a big attitude. I am planning to build him a bigger coop at the end of September and plan to adopt 2 or 3 hens to keep him company.
How do you spend quality time with Sammy?
When I am outside working in the garden or just relaxing he gets the chance to be a proper free range chicken and can roam around. Three of my dogs don’t even mind him at all but my little pug who wants to play with Sammy but just get to rough, so I have to keep a watchful eye on them. When I sit outside with a cup of coffee or a book he comes and sits on my lap. He is almost 5 months old and has only been staying home the last month. Before that he came to work with me and roamed around the office and sat on my arm to take a nap. He loves it when I dick up the garden for him so he can get to the earthworms that hide a bit deeper than what he can dig.
What has surprised you most about Sammy?
He has got a wonderful character and loves snuggling on my lap. When he hears my voice or sees me he gets so excited.
What do you want to tell people out there (who don’t know chickens as a species) about chickens?
They are not pieces of meat. They are wonderful animals with feelings just like us. They get excited, happy and even grumpy sometimes.
How do you know that your chickens recognize you over and above other people in their lives?
When Sammy sees me or hears my voice he start running up and down the fence of his coop and even jumps against the fence and makes the cutest little clucking sounds. When I call him by saying ‘Come Sammy’ or a whistle I have then he actually comes to me. He’s amazing.
In your experience of keeping chickens as pets, what 10 non-negotiable factors do you believe need to be in place to give chickens a life that is physically, emotionally and mentally healthy?
- They need space and cannot be cooped up all day in a tiny little cage
- They need company (Sammy loves the pigeons that hangs out with him)
- They need protections from things that threaten them
- They need an endless supply of food
- They need a piece of the garden that are just dirt, to dig in and have their dust baths in
- Always make sure that the have a supply of clean water
- They need a nice ‘bed’ they can snuggle in at night where they feel safe
- They need to express themselves and make themselves be heard with their crowing and clucking
- They need freedom to just be chickens
- They need people to change the way they see and treat chickens
If you could say one thing, on behalf of chickens in the world, to the decision makers in your country, what would that one thing be?
Don’t look at them as food but as fellow beings that have the right to live a free, happy and save live