Hello my name is Beth and my son’s name is Collen. I am a disabled stay at home mother, and he’s a ninth grader at Jay High School. He is fourteen years old. We both have many hobbies that we enjoy separately and together but our favourite one to enjoy together is raising our backyard flock of pet chickens.
Where in the world are you?
We live in Jay, Oklahoma USA
How many chickens do you have?
Currently 22, plus 2 guinea keets.
We have Punkin a cinnamon queen that Collen found in the parking lot of a convenience store next to our local poultry plant. She was so grateful to be rescued she follows Collen everywhere he goes. There is Silas, currently our only rooster who was brought home by my son in a paper grocery sack. Our older hens: Dactyl, my son’s black australorp/white leghorn cross, Huberta, a buff orpington/ RIR cross, two barred rocks, Chat Chat and Fluffy Butt, 2 Easter Eggers, named Buttercup and Miss Puffy Blue. Then there’s a partridge rock pullet named Justine, a silver lace Wyandotte pulled named Piper, 6 Austra White pullets, only two of which have names and those are Houdina and Agatha. And 6 more barred rock pullets, named Harley, Miss Derp, Slendina, Chit Chat, and two yet to be named. We haven’t named these because we can’t tell them apart and are still trying to think of some. The guineas’ names are Joshua and Katie.
How do you spend quality time with your chicken/ chickens?
I let them free range for a couple of hours every day in the backyard under close supervision. I am with them the whole time, watching them.
What has surprised you most about your chicken/ chickens?
How intelligent they are.
What do you want to tell people out there (who don’t know chickens as a species) about chickens?
They are very intelligent, sensitive creatures, with a highly socialized “government” system of their own, with few problems. They also have a unique language of their own that a person can translate and understand if you are around them long enough.
How do you know that your chickens recognize you over and above other people in their lives?
They ignore others or won’t let others pick them up but since I am the lady who dispenses the treats and gives them individual attention when they go to roost, I think they understand that I’m the person who cares for them. There are certain ones that tolerate me but are enamoured to my son instead.
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?
1. Don’t discount the value of a rooster. They can and do make good pets too.
2. There are plenty of delicious egg and meat substitutes out there. I can’t think of any others.
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?
Eliminate battery cages and factory farming entirely.