Raising backyard chickens is something that all people, of all ages, can enjoy. Children especially can get so much out of raising chickens, with hens often becoming close companions. However, as fun as it can be for children to interact and raise backyard chickens, there are risks involved. Chickens are animals, after all, and our children need to learn how to handle them properly.
To keep both our chickens and are children safe and happy, here are some tips how to raise backyard chickens around children:
Pick a kid-friendly chicken breed
All chickens have their own personalities, but some breeds are gentler and more patient than others. Silkies, for instance, are known for their docile nature and adaptability. This makes them excellent pets that can easily co-exist with young children. Buff Orpington chickens are also a good kid-friendly breed, often bought as pets thanks to their gentleness. For a full list of gentle breeds, check our Top 5 – Gentle Breeds page here.
Practice good biosecurity
When you’re raising any kind of farm animal, you run the risk of diseases spreading around your flock and your own family. To reduce this risk, you need to practice good biosecurity. This means making sure your children (and yourself) do the following:
- Wash your hands before and after interacting with the flock or collecting eggs
- Wear disposable boots or use a disinfectant footbath
- Change your clothes before and after you interact with your flock/collect your eggs, and then wash those clothes thoroughly
- Keep the coop and run clean
Always supervise your children when they interact with your chickens
Unless your children are in their late teens, they should never be left alone with the flock. Both children and chickens have the potential to accidentally hurt one another, so always make sure that you are supervising them at all times. This is especially the case if your kids haven’t had much time to interact with the chickens since you’ve had them.
Teach your children how to handle chickens
Chickens are not toys, but it can be hard for kids, especially very young kids, to understand this. If they don’t, they could hurt the chickens, or the chickens could try to hurt them back by expressing their discomfort with their beaks. Before you let your children interact with your chickens, make sure you teach them how to properly hold and handle them.
Keep it fun
There are a lot of rules to follow when raising chickens around children, but don’t let that get in the way of how fun it is to care for a backyard flock. If you’ve decided to raise your own flock, have your kids help you pick out the right breed (ensuring that they are kid-friendly, of course). Then, if you intend on raising these chickens as pets or for eggs, have your kids pick out names for your new family members. Finally, as your chickens grow and mature (right alongside your children), be sure to celebrate milestones such as the first egg, the first molt, and even retirement. You should also try and keep the daily chores as fun as possible by encouraging your kids to collect the eggs or spend quality time with their favorite hens.
At Chickens for Backyards, we believe that all kids should have the chance to help raise and care for backyard chickens. To get started with your flock, look through our list of gentle, kid-friendly breeds, or contact us for any further tips on raising chickens around your children.