Chickens make great pets and they are surprisingly popular. We often have people bringing in their sick or injured chook. Their owners are often embarrassed about admitting that they care but they shouldn’t be! Chickens can be very engaging, friendly and entertaining. They can even find a fair bit of their own food if allowed to wander around your garden and are excellent aids in tick control for your dogs. They may even give you a few eggs occasionally.
As a general rule chooks are quite hardy and suffer few diseases. The most problem chickens have is that other animals like to kill them. Dogs, cats, hawks, foxes (in the centre) and teenagers are all potential threats to chooks. Secure fencing is the only real solution. If you let your chickens out for a roam you must keep an eye on them. Looking them up at night in secure snake proof enclosure will also prevent loss.
Botulism is also a very common cause of death in pet chickens in the top end. Affected chickens become floppy, weak and unable to stand. Chickens get botulism from eating food or water contaminated by the botulism toxin. The toxin is produced in decomposing material. Unfortunately chooks are attracted to this sort of stuff so vigilance is necessary. Make sure to feed only fresh foods, and clean out food containers regularly. Make sure the chicken pen has good drainage especially during the wet season.
Chooks can be much more than just yard pets and many enjoy sitting on laps being stroked. Take some time to get to know your chooks; they all have different personalities and preferences.
Chooks are great pets, they are not expensive to purchase or keep, and they are generally fairly hardy and easy to look after. It is great to be able to enjoy watching chickens pottering about your garden.