Backyard Chickens Can Be Best Friends
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Consider a Family Flock
Peanut butter and jelly; milk and cookies; mac 'n' cheese. Some things are just better together. The same holds true for kids and their pets.
Pets provide unforgettable memories - from greetings at the front door to backyard adventures. Today, these family moments are made with an unconventional pet: backyard chickens.
"Chickens are popular urban and rural pets, providing benefits for the entire family," says Patrick Biggs, Ph.D., a flock nutritionist for Purina Animal Nutrition. "Kids love chickens because they are friendly and filled with personality. Parents value the lessons they teach about responsibility and where food comes from."
Follow the next four tips if you're considering a family flock!Date Published: September 15, 2017Date Updated: April 11, 2018
1. Choose a Kid-Friendly Breed
Just like kids, chickens have unique personalities, but a few chicken breeds are especially patient with children.
Silkies, often called the lap dog of chickens, are a top choice for families looking for affectionate birds. They have a sweet and caring nature, with soft, fuzzy feathers. Orpingtons and Plymouth Rocks are quiet and gentle, and lay up to 300 eggs per year. Other kid-friendly breeds include: Cochins, Brahmas, Australorps, Polish, and the colored egg-laying Easter Eggers.
No matter the breed, start with four to six chicks and teach children how to handle and care for them.Date Published: September 15, 2017Date Updated: April 11, 2018
2. Celebrate Milestones Together
Once you choose a breed, you're in for fun milestones as chickens grow quickly. Be sure to celebrate picking out chicks, learning how to hold them gently, watching them grow through the teenage stage, building the perfect coop, and running out in the morning to check for the first egg to be laid.Date Published: September 15, 2017Date Updated: April 11, 2018
3. Practice Safe and Healthy Handling
Raising chickens can also teach about the importance of biosecurity. Kids learn valuable lessons to keep their birds and themselves safe and healthy. Make sure children learn to:
- Wash hands thoroughly before and after collecting eggs or working with birds.
- Wear clean clothes and wash shoes with disinfectant before spending time with birds. Consider providing your kids with "chicken shoes" they only wear out to the coop.
- Clean and disinfect equipment, including any tools that come in contact with your birds or their droppings.Date Published: September 15, 2017Date Updated: April 11, 2018
4. Make Daily Caretaking Fun
"Daily chicken chores can be fun and rewarding," says Biggs. "A hen produces about one egg each day, so it's quick to see the results. Kids caan help care for the birds and see their work pay off with farm fresh eggs."
Dana Adkins, a mom in North Carolina, says raising a mixed poultry flock has brought her family together through shared responsibility.
"We started raising chickens, ducks and geese because I wanted my kids to learn where their food comes from," says Dana. "The kids help with everything, from cleaning the coop to collecting eggs. We enjoy each step of the way together, from hatching chicks to having fresh eggs to eat."
Ready to add backyard chickens to your family? Visit your local Purina retailer this fall for Purina Flock-tober festifities, visit www.purinamills.com/chicken-feed or connect with Purina Poultry on Facebook or Pinterest.Date Published: September 15, 2017Date Updated: April 11, 2018
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