Imagine the following scenario: you are well-adapted to having chickens as pets. You’ve had them around for ages. It’s been a while, you now have kids, and you want to introduce them to their first flock.
Chickens, particularly roosters, can be pretty darn aggressive if it’s the wrong breed. You want your kids to have fun with their new pets, so you might as well choose a breed that is child-appropriate. So…which breeds are good for kids to own?
What makes a chicken breed good for kids?
There are several things that you should consider when choosing a child-friendly breed. These are the traits that tend to be the most important:
- Temperament. You absolutely, positively cannot have a chicken breed known for aggression as a child’s pet. The gentler and calmer the bird, the better off you will be. Thankfully, there are plenty of great chicken breeds that are calm, happy, and ready for cuddles.
- Health. There are few things as distressing to a child as seeing their pets sick. We strongly suggest you choose a chicken breed that has a reasonably long lifespan and doesn’t have any special health needs.
- Perks. Though it’s not a must-have, there are a few things that are as fun for kids as finding chickens in a variety of colors, having a pretty chicken, or getting interestingly colored eggs. It can encourage them to get enthusiastic about chicken ownership.
Of course, each child will have their own unique interests when it comes to raising chickens. If you want to get a good match for them, it’s best to let them pick out the breed that they want to raise.
Is your child ready to have a pet chicken?
At first glance, giving kids a pet of their own seems like a no-brainer. Kids love animals. Teaching kids to care for animals is a great way to help them learn empathy and become great adults. However, chickens are not for everyone, and not every child should have a flock.
You need to be more aware of what your child wants in a pet. Having a dog or a cat is definitely more traditional. These pets can often be easier to bond with, especially if your child wants to have a pet that can be trained, brought on walks, or taught to do tricks.
Chickens are different. They may be hard to really bond with, at least at first. Many children may not be able to tell when their chickens are showing affection. If your child isn’t sensitive to animal behavior, then you may want to wait.
Children who are rough with animals should not be given a pet chicken, as these birds can be surprisingly fragile. It’s not fair to the chicken or the child.
How are you going to raise those chickens?
If your child is old enough and mature enough to understand using chickens for meat purposes, then you may want to have a frank discussion about what your goals are with these chickens. Otherwise, it could be a traumatic moment for them.
Generally speaking, it’s not a good idea to get a pet and then send it to a slaughterhouse. If you are looking for meat chickens, then you should avoid having your child get emotionally attached to them.
The best way to give your child a good experience with your chicken-keeping activity is to treat them like pets which also comes with the perk of offering up eggs. Your child will adore collecting eggs in their egg basket, and maybe even learn to snuggle up to their buddies!
Is your backyard ready for chickening?
Chickens are great, but they can be noisy pets. If you are worried about neighbors giving noise complaints, then you may want to check out other pet options for your little ones. With that said, you will need a coop, a chicken run, and ample space for these birds.
The exact requirements for each chicken’s space will change based on the breed. It’s best to do a little extra research to find out what kind of requirements your coop has.
11 best chicken breeds for children
Now that we’ve explained what makes a child-friendly chicken, let’s take a look at the most popular picks for families with kids.
1. Buff Orpingtons
These birds are nicknamed “the golden retrievers of the chicken world,” and it’s not just because of their golden color. Orpington chickens are some of the friendliest chickens to come out of England.
They are a great breed for laying nutritious eggs, but they also tend to be extremely friendly birds. Their favorite things to do include follow you around, cluck at each other, and squat for a cuddle. Young farmers tend to fall in love with this breed…and who can blame them?
Oh, and they are also great moms. So, if your child wants to breed chickens, you absolutely can do that.
So, there are multiple types of Silky breeds. Most homeowners who want to introduce kids to chicken raising tend to prefer lightweight bantam breeds. These gorgeous and fluffy chickens have feathers that are super-soft, hence the name.
If you like fluffy feathers, especially feathers that make your chicken look like it has an afro, these are going to be the backyard chickens you never knew you needed. A silkie bantam will definitely gain attention.
It’s worth noting that silkie bantams handle confinement very well. If you want to get a cream-colored bird that looks like it has fur, this is it.
Truth be told, Brahma chicken breeds are incredibly useful birds. Along with being kid-friendly chickens that enjoy giving love and adoration to owners, they are great egg layers and can also be used for meat purposes. (We don’t suggest eating your kid’s pet, by the way.)
4. Plymouth Rock
They are large, trusting, and friendly birds that are aware of their surroundings but still love to hang out in the chicken coop. They tend to be black and white but will lay eggs that take on a salmon color. You will get a lot of eggs from this one!
At this point of our list, you’re going to start seeing more exotic kid-friendly chicken breeds. The Cochin has feathered legs and a gorgeous body that sets it apart from the rest of the crew. They are unusually large and tend to come in a wide range of different hues.
These birds are massive and have been given as gifts to royalty. They originate from China and were originally meat birds. Today, these birds are known for living their entire life as loving pets. They’re truly gentle giants.
Many people think of chickens and tend to think of birds that look like the Australorp. These birds have an iridescent green sheen to their feathers but are mostly just red and black. They’re healthy chickens that prefer to stay in confined areas.
If you love eggs, then you may want to get this. It’s one of the most prolific egg-laying breeds to ever come out of Australia. You can get as many as five eggs per week from a single Australorp.
Polish chickens are goofy-looking birds that are brown and white with bold “afros” on top of their heads. These goofy chickens often struggle with different breeds because their strange look can cause the top of the flock to bully them.
They are very good-natured birds, though. Their gentle demeanor makes them great kid-friendly birds. However, their egg-laying abilities leave a lot to be desired. You may want to rethink this unless you want a strict companion and show bird.
8. Easter Eggers
Easter Egger chickens are a trendy breed, primarily because they lay a variety of egg colors. You might get pink, blue, olive, or even light green eggs. This is not an official breed, per se, but it is a type of chicken that tends to be popular.
They are often hybrids of Ameraucana and Auraucana with other breeds. Easter Egger hens are a smart choice for kids who want to get into raising chickens for their eggs. They’re fun, and overall, tend to be gentle birds.
PRO TIP – Another good option similar to Easter Egger is Olive Egger. They have very similar traits, are just as mellow, and lay olive-colored eggs. That’s a great pick for kids who have a thing for colorful birds.
Wyandottes are a lot like Easter Eggers, in both temperament and egg-laying abilities. The difference is their appearance, egg colors, and their official status as a chicken breed. These birds are beautiful and have feathers that look like golden or silver lace.
The Golden Laced Wyandotte is a particularly popular chicken for show purposes. These chickens are showstoppers and can also lay eggs pretty well. If your child wants a relaxed, sociable bird as part of the family’s backyard flock, this is a great choice.
Wyandottes are a great pick for families that want to have a chicken they can enter in bird shows. It’s a 4H favorite, and the same can be said about their stature in terms of actual breeding shows.
Many parents are right to choose chicken breeds that are prized as heritage breeds. Faverolles come from France and are known for their fluffy cheek feathers and feathered beards. They come in a wide range of different color ranges.
This chicken breed is a bit rare, but they tend to be highly coveted. People tend to give them to children as pets because they are docile, quiet, and easy to care for. As long as you have a clean coop, good food, and occasional grooming, they’re usually good to go.
11. Speckled Sussex
Are you looking for a royally pretty treat of a bird? Then you might want England’s own Speckled Sussex. Chicken keepers in cold climates love this bird because it’s so hardy against low temperatures.
The Speckled Sussex is a breed that became famous during the “Hen Fever” period of the 19th century. This bird was made to be a decent egg producer, a good meat bird, and a great companion. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a chicken that’s as even-tempered as this one!
It’s definitely a “posh” bird, if there is such a thing. Between Buff Orpington hens and Speckled Sussex hens, you’ll have a very British, very kid-friendly backyard flock.
Chickens can be a great pet option for children, especially if your child has shown an interest in homesteading. Your child could learn responsibility, the importance of ethical farming, and more from having the right bird as a pet.
The hard part, of course, is finding a chicken that you can actually feel comfortable giving to your child as a pet. Pets aren’t always easy to pick out, but thanks to the centuries of animal breeding we’ve done, it’s possible to find friendly chicken breeds for your little ones.
At the end of the day, you have to pick a breed that is both child-friendly and right for the type of farming you want to do. With a little research and a lot of careful discussions, you’ll be able to put together the perfect backyard flock for your family.