Children and Chickens - do they go together?
Are you getting Chickens as pets for the kids?
Keeping Chickens in your back gardens is becoming hugely popular in the UK. They are indeed perfect Pets for many and not only are they Pets, but they're working pets at that giving you free food in the form of Eggs.
Many see keeping a few Hens as a good introduction to Farming and general knowledge for their children's sake, so here's a few things we need to consider if your Kids are one of the main reason for taking this 'new fashion' up.
The Promises made!
Inevitably, Children will get a whim for something and in the case of having a few Hens, it's the same. They will promise to feed them, help clean out the Chicken House and generally be the perfect Assistant Farmer around the Garden.This also applies to the OH as well, whatever gender that may be!
Sure enough the excitement of getting the Chicken Coop ready is overwhelming and when the day of the Hens arrival comes, all is 110% enthusiasm and keenness.For the first few days, they will be up at dawn with boots on, chicken feed in a Pan and being the fine example they promised to be but - how long will this last!
All too often I read or see adverts for Hens needing Homes and in many cases it is a result of the 'seemed a good idea at the time' and hearing the stories, learn that a similar tale of how it started well, but the kids and OH lost interest, hard to squeeze it in between work etc. comes out.
Also of course, we usually start off in the chicken keeping world in Spring or Summer. Add the above to a rainy cold Novemberto March day and all isn't wine and roses.
Children and Chickens in the Garden
If you are letting your Chickens roam the Garden, don't forget they aren't like Cats and Dogs who usually have their own little Toilet spots. Chickens don't give a darn and will drop anywhere. So if you have very young kids you need to make sure what they're playing with and where, a rolling ball will gather up all it goes over!
On the subject of balls, if Children are actively playing in the Garden, they're usually running around and throwing or kicking things. When this happens, it's usually best to shut your Chickens in thus making the Garden either Children only or Chicken only.
Hens have a habit of having heart attacks if coming under suddenstress, so watch visiting Kids who aren't aware of the respect they have to give fellow creatures. Most kids under the age of about four simply want to followthe Chooks. They may start off just strolling along behind them but this all too often ends up with chasing them.
One thing I would say is to think very hard about keeping a Cockerel. They can be pretty protective and will not think twice about a low flying attack at a small pair of Legs. I've known Children who have experienced that and won't go near a Chicken now. Unless you're in more a 'small farm' situation and have loads of space - stick to Hens!
Helping Children to care for the Chickens
For all the reasons above I would suggest that Kids are aware of the responsibilities before you get them. Dogs and Cats etc. more or less look after themselves, but Chickens are more like Rabbits and Hamsters etc. They need to be looked after in so far as feeding and cleaning is concerned.
If you have more than one Child, maybe suggest a Rosterfor the smaller duties involved. At first they'll all want to do it, but this usually ends up with no one wants to do it, but by making it more of a duty or discipline, it can work quite well
It is nice that Children grow up with a knowledge of things around them especially if they know where their food comes from and in what conditions etc.
By keeping a few Hens down the garden, your Children are learning more about the real world and will certainly have a better understanding of what are right forms of Farming. They'll do good!
Maybe some of the things I've written appear to be negative, but what I'm just really saying is
Chickens are more than just Pets!