Ashley Zebro courtesy Medium.com all rights Ashley Zebro author

5 amusing facts about my indoor pet chickens

Ashley Zebro Shared blog from Jan 12 Medium.com by Ashley Zebro - Link below for bio and additional articles by Ashley.

You no longer need a backyard coop to enjoy the companionship of chickens. Our feathered friends are low-maintenance, intelligent, and goofy birds that make great indoor pets.

In August, I adopted two chickens, and we share a one bedroom apartment. Ren and Mina are 8 month old sebright bantam hens. I got them from a woman in a Facebook group that wanted to rehome them, since they were too jumpy.

After a couple months of (chasing them around) acclimating them to human touch, we now form a little family of three. I am obsessed with my birds, so I bring them up in conversation often. Here are five things people are particularly interested to hear about my birds.

They wear diapers

The most frequently asked question I get when people first meet or see pictures of Ren or Mina is, “Is that a dress?”

Ren (brown) Mina (white) wearing chicken diapers - all rights owned by Ashley Zorbro medium.com share

Ren (brown) and Mina (white) wearing chicken diapers

Chickens are little poop factories, manufacturing 12–15 little nuggets of waste per day. Their feces are coated in uric acid, so they don’t produce any liquid urine. That’s why bird poop has white in it!

Putting them in diapers allows them to roam freely through my home without turning my floors into an abstract art painting. The poop pouches are typically made from cotton cloth with a waterproof liner, so they’re washable and reusable. They come in fun patterns and bright colors, and are just as fashionable as practical. The pouch velcros around the bird’s tail and the straps go around their shoulders, kind of like a backpack. It ends up looking like a little dress, or apron.

I change their diapers once per day. Sometimes they don’t mind and enjoy being held; other times they run away, wiggle around, and chirp.

Now, I don’t have any human children but, I imagine the struggle is similar to changing a toddler’s diaper.

They’re on birth control

It takes a lot of energy for a chicken to produce an egg. Since hens have been bred to produce a high volume of eggs (for human consumption), it puts them at risk for reproductive health issues.

I choose to have them implanted with a birth control rod that stops them from laying eggs. The implant is injected under their skin and is about the size of a rice grain. It’s like a Nexplanon or IUD for chickens!

Each chicken’s experience with the implant varies, so it can last 3–6 months, longer, or not at all. Mina was resistant to the implant, so she’s currently laying about one egg per day. She’s a very vocal bird, and expresses discomfort for about an hour before releasing an egg. When Ren is due for a new implant, I’ll try again with Mina, in hopes she can get a break from the discomfort and avoid egg-laying health complications.

They sleep on my pillow

…and on the arm of the sofa, and sometimes on my head.

Chickens are prey animals, so they like to sleep high up from the ground. Ren and Mina challenge each other to who can roost higher on the bed or on my body. It’s because they love me and definitely not to feel my radiant body heat.

They sleep through the whole night, and take several naps during the day. Hens don’t typically crow (otherwise known as, “cock-a-doodle-doo!”) in the morning but, Mina is wired a little bit different, so I am sometimes graced by her unsolicited morning announcements.

They give and receive affection

Chickens are individuals with their own dynamic personalities, so their desire or tolerance for affection varies from bird to bird. I would equate keeping a chicken to keeping a dinosaur-cat, if you can imagine that. They hang out in high places, want affection on their terms only, and shriek like velociraptors. In fact, chickens, like all birds, are closely related to dinosaurs.

I’ve had chickens clean my hair in the same way they preen their own feathers. Ren and Mina don’t do this but I hope they will one day.

I know they’re enjoying the affection I give them. When I kiss their wattles and rub my face in their feathers, they relax and wince their eyes. Mina melts into my hand like a wicked witch when she gets a belly rub.

They get their toenails and beaks manicured

So, they don’t get a warm foot bath with waterjets, hot stones, or a massage, but they do need their toenails and beaks trimmed.

Mina with an overgrown beak courtesy Ashley Zebro medium.com all rights belong to her

Mina with an overgrown beak

Beaks are like fingernails, so if your bird isn’t wearing theirs down, it should be trimmed, as to not interfere with preening their feathers, and pecking around.

Just as you need to avoid the quick of a toe nail, chicken’s beaks have a vein that you need to avoid while trimming. I use my regular toenail clippers and they get a blueberry or lettuce as a reward.

Having my chickens live in the house with me is not only feasible but super rewarding. This way I get all the poop with none of the coop.

Ashley describes herself as a vegan Las Vegan. A chick with chickens. Measuring her success in laughter. Learn More about Ashley

 

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