Keeping Chickens in the House

Updated on April 18, 2020
Ava Crawford profile image

Ava is a mom of one goofy, special needs chicken that lives with a rabbit as an indoor-outdoor pet. She is also a vet assistant.

Among indoor chicken owners, the bantam breeds are largely preferred due to their small size and friendly nature.
Among indoor chicken owners, the bantam breeds are largely preferred due to their small size and friendly nature.

Chances are you have heard about chickens as backyard pets, but some people have taken the backyard pet and turned it into a house pet. Chickens are surprisingly adaptable animals, but this article will explore the odd lives of those who, instead of a cat or a dog, keep fowl in their home.

Surprisingly, indoor chicken owners are growing in popularity and are more common than you think.

There are numerous Facebook groups dedicated to indoor poultry, and online poultry diaper businesses sell hundreds of chicken diapers each month, it's no surprise the number of indoor chickens is soaring.

In all of our years owning chickens, we never imagined that she would become such an important part of our family.

— Wendy E.N Thomas in "Raising an Indoor Pet Chicken"

What Problems Occur with Indoor Chickens?

There are many things that come to mind when deciding on keeping a chicken indoors, let's go through some of them.

A Lot of Chicken oop

This is the number one reason why one might consider not owning an indoor chicken. Any chicken owner knows that they are essentially little poop factories and don't care where they go. Many people address this issue by buying chicken diapers, or even litter training their birds, but this is rare and hard to do.

There are many options online from large businesses such as MyPetChicken or PamperedPoultry for stylish and functional chicken diapers. Indoor chickens rely on their diapers when they are free-roaming the home. If you want a chicken indoors, you will need a lot of diapers.

Chickens and Other Pets Don't Usually Mix

This issue is situational. Some cats will cuddle a chicken like it's one of their own, and some will be licking their lips in anticipation of a yummy meal. Dogs tend to be a larger issue than cats because some chickens can grow to formidable sizes that may rival a cat's attempt to make a snack out of it. Chickens can grow to be part of your pet's dynamic given training, supervision, and a well-behaved animal. They make a flock out of anything.

Chickens Need a Coop

This is a given. If you would like to keep chickens, indoors or outdoors, they need a coop to call home. Many people have made their own indoor friendly coops or repurposed rabbit hutches and parrot cages. A place for the chicken to call its own allows them to lay eggs comfortably, roost, and have peace and quiet from young children or other animals.

Chickens Can Carry Diseases

This is something you must consider while owning poultry. Like reptiles and other birds, chickens can carry diseases like salmonella. They shouldn't be near your food or on the kitchen tables.

Many chickens already dislike those surfaces because they are hard to grip. But as always, wash your hands before and after handling poultry, and especially before eating to ensure safety, and understand the risks you take while interacting with poultry.

Chicks are a goofy addition to any family.
Chicks are a goofy addition to any family.

My first reaction, was that people who keep chickens in their house are a few cards short of a full deck. They are right up there with cat hoarders or people who keep alligators in their bathtubs.-

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the notion of a house chicken being ridiculous is really just a frame of mind.-

Really, they are just a bird. What’s the difference between keeping a chicken in the house, or a large parrot, macaw or cockatoo?

— Jennifer Sartell in "House Chickens: Idyllic or Idiotic?"

What Are the Pros of Keeping Chickens Indoors?

For Many of Us, It Might Be Our Only Option

If you begin to look at forums or groups about indoor chickens, you will find many similar stories. Most often, the house chicken began as a coop chicken but had some special need that made her move inside temporarily until that week turned into that month, which turned into that year.

When raising chickens, you run into a host of issues, illnesses, and injuries. You become your own vet, or go into chicken debt, because dang are chicken vets expensive! Some birds simply aren't strong enough to live in a large flock. Some have immune issues, or mobility issues, or simply are too gentle to live outside, and need special indoor attention. So while we often love to judge others for their crazy chicken habits, sometimes they are just doing their best for a bird that's a little special.

Chickens Provide Therapy

There's something about their goofy habits and silly faces that provides so much love to those who need it. Chickens are a great compromise for those who love the intelligence and bonding a parrot provides, but can't deal with the long lifespan or demand for attention. Chickens provide comfort to even the toughest of souls and find homes within a flock of any species. Their hearts are big, and as cheap, common, and low maintenance animals, they return your care and attention tenfold with love and affection.

Chickens Bring the Homestead Life Anywhere

If you want to bring a piece of agriculture and self-sustainability to your home, chickens are the perfect animal to do so. Keeping chickens indoors allows for even those with limited backyard space or close neighbors to discreetly keep a piece of the farm life. While great pets, they also provide fresh eggs to your family, as well as providing education about agriculture to your kids and friends.

My own special needs chicken, Teba, enjoys her cuddles and pampered life.
My own special needs chicken, Teba, enjoys her cuddles and pampered life.

The Final Word

The answer to this largely depends. I personally believe its doable and can bring so much enrichment to anyone's lives. But it is probably not the best option for most. If you have a backyard, think about starting your own backyard flock, or maybe having "indoor-outdoor" chickens that have a coop outside, but can roam your home supervised on occasion. As always, do your research and put the bird's needs above everything else when deciding.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2020 Ava Crawford


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    • profile image

      bernie feolog 

      3 weeks ago


    • profile image


      6 weeks ago

      Love chickens. And a pair (cock and hen) kept in the garden becomes a warming centerpiece to your life.

      Apart from dogs I have partnered, I don't subscribe to keeping animals by themselves. They flourish better with one of their own species, along with your love and care. I have 2 budgies: one dies, I get another, another get my drift.

      Interesting article Bob

    • Angel Guzman profile image

      Angel Guzman 

      6 weeks ago from Joliet, Illinois

      Chicken diapers? Whoa I had no idea. My neighbor has a chicken. It got in my yard two weeks ago. I never knew a cat would cuddle a chicken. Very interesting read Ava.

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 

      3 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Back when I was in high school I had a friend who kept a Bantam rooster as a pet (back in 1975), so I think this has been going on a while. Unfortunately I do not think there was any sort of "chicken diapers" available back then, so my biggest impression of his pet was "what a mess".

      Great article. I think I will leave my hens outside though in their coop, though, and stick to my parrots!


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