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Davis Journal

Chickens are the new sustainable companion

Mar 09, 2023 02:22PM ● By Alisha Copfer

Caleb Hansen holds several of his flock of chickens. Photo by Brandy Hansen

Having chickens as pets can be good for people who have the space and time to care for them. They are social animals and can be friendly and affectionate toward their owners. As with other animals, they are known for having unique personalities. They communicate with each other using a variety of sounds and body language, and they enjoy spending time with their flock. 

Chickens are relatively easy to care for as they don’t need much attention. However, it is important to know that they have specific needs. There are many different breeds of chickens, each with unique characteristics.

“My kids enjoy having chickens as pets and have their favorite chickens,” said Brandy Hansen, who lives in West Bountiful. “Chickens are also so much fun to watch as they scratch the ground and hunt for bugs.”

Hansen’s son, Caleb, owns a flock of eight chickens. The chicken breeds include Golden Sex Link, Bovan Brown, Black Maran, Black Sex Link, Leghorn and Polish. “When COVID hit in early 2020, Caleb wanted chickens,” said Hansen. “I was not for it and told him he would have to be responsible for them and buy everything, and he did.”

Caleb’s chicken flock goes through about a bag and a half of feed a month; a bag of feed is about $20, Hansen said. “You also have to factor in all the start-up supplies. When they’re babies, you have to have a light to keep them warm, then a coop, a water source and a feeder. We have also spent money on hay to put on their coop floor for warmth. Someone in our city gave us their old coop, and we set it up, and my son bought his chickens.”

While the Hansen family seems to enjoy having pet chickens, there are downsides. “One of the negative things about our chickens is they have a coop that needs to be opened and closed every day, meaning someone has to let them out every morning and lock them up every night (so they don’t get eaten),” said Hansen. “Oh, and they poop a lot and everywhere!”

One of the most obvious benefits of owning chickens is having a steady supply of fresh eggs. “A lot of people think that having chickens is the way to go right now with egg prices being super high,” said Hansen. “But I don’t think people realize how much work and money go into getting and raising chickens.”

Hansen says that getting eggs is definitely the best perk of having chickens. However, “you have to realize that they don’t lay eggs during the winter,” she said. “The taste and color are unmatched. And, when we can’t use all the eggs we get, we sell them or give them away.”

If someone is looking to get chickens, Hansen said they should research what breed of chickens they want and if they want to have eggs as a benefit. Different breeds lay different sizes and colors and at different frequencies. “Some chickens are egg machines and will give you more eggs than other breeds.” 

She also warns about researching health issues that may occur. “Chickens, like any animal, will get sick and have problems,” said Hansen. “Do research before so you know what to expect.”

Chickens can be susceptible to various health issues, such as respiratory infections and parasites. It’s important to monitor chickens for signs of illness and schedule regular check-ups with a veterinarian specializing in poultry.