Written by Dr. David Hannon, DVM, DABVP (Avian Practice)
The popularity of keeping chickens as pets has skyrocketed in the last few years. Coronavirus, concerns regarding food scarcity, and heightened awareness of where one’s food comes from are just a few reasons that more people are turning toward backyard chickens as a way to keep busy and provide sustainable, affordable food sources.
Dr. David Hannon, DVM, DABVP (Avian Practice), an avian veterinarian with Hello Ralphie, walks potential poultry owners through what breeds of poultry are available to own, what to expect regarding poultry behavior, and the medical care backyard birds need.
Can I Keep Chickens in my Backyard?
Backyard birds can be allowed to roam loose in the yard, but ideally should be kept in a pen when not being directly supervised or at night. Guineafowl and peafowl have the ability to fly and will often roost in a tree at night.
If you live within the city limits, you should check with your municipality to see if there are any laws about keeping poultry. Your city may have rules on how many birds can be kept, and many municipalities prohibit keeping roosters due to their loud vocalizations.
What Should I Feed my Pet Chicken?
Medical Care for Backyard Chickens and Poultry
Common Diseases in Backyard Chickens and Poultry
Being a prey species, these birds can be masters at hiding illnesses, so it’s important to know what’s normal for your birds so that you can pick up on abnormalities sooner. For instance, if you have a chicken that lays an egg every other day, and she suddenly stops laying, then there might be a problem. Another way you can objectively monitor your birds’ health is to weigh them regularly. A significant increase or decrease in body weight can signal an underlying problem.