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The idea of pet poultry such as chickens, ducks, or geese might seem odd to some people, but some farm birds can actually make great pets in the right situation. In addition to being an unusual conversation piece, pet poultry can also be a productive addition to the household. Hens, for example, will produce eggs, and a roving team of chickens or geese can help fertilize a garden, eliminate pests, and till the soil. As a general rule, pet poultry should live outdoors, although it is possible to house train farm birds.
Poultry is a generic term used to refer to domesticated birds which are bred for their eggs and meat. Ducks, peacocks, chickens, guinea fowl, geese, and turkeys are all classified as poultry. Not all poultry is suitable for adaptation as a pet. Small birds like ducks and chickens make good potential companions, while geese and turkeys are less advisable. Both peacocks and guinea fowl are noisy and messy, making them poor choices for pets.
In terms of chickens, female chickens make the best pet poultry. In addition to producing useful eggs, female birds tend to be more docile, trainable, and agreeable. Roosters can become aggressive, hostile, and difficult to handle. In addition, roosters are loud, which is not always appreciated by the neighbors. People who want to keep pet poultry may also want to seek out smaller breeds such as bantams. Bantams also tend to be intelligent birds, and they may offer more in the way of companionship.
Both female and male ducks would make acceptable pet poultry. However, duck poop tends to be messy, so ducks should ideally be kept outdoors and far from the house. Ducks also appreciate being able to splash around in a pond or kiddie pool. When keeping ducks as pet poultry, try to get them young so that you can imprint yourself on the ducklings, enforcing your role as an authority figure.
Geese and turkeys tend to be large and aggressive. While some people do keep pet geese successfully, the birds are also kept as attack animals in other parts of the world. If geese are acquired at a young age and handled frequently, they can sometimes make good pets, but this is not guaranteed. It only takes one bite from a vindictive, angry goose to decide that geese might play a better household role as dinner.
When keeping poultry as pets, you should consider whether you have enough room and time for the pet poultry. Poultry prefer to live outdoors, not indoors, which makes pet poultry unsuited to apartments and most city living situations. Birds like to wander, and they can be destructive, so you may need to fence off delicate plants or set aside a specific area for the birds.
At night, the animals will need to be secured from predators, which means that you will need to build a coop or shed for the poultry to roost in at night. You should also plan on dedicating some time every day to feeding and cleaning up after pet poultry, and you may want to consider whether or not you can find someone to care for your pet poultry when you go on trips.
Just after reading this, I went out to my chicken coop, and my rooster attacked me! I have had chickens for 13 years, but I have only had 2 roosters that have done this! My hand has a half inch gap in it and it is swollen. The impact of the bird's attack actually threw out my shoulder as well. As I had been leaning down to get a water bucket, he just missed my face! Anyone considering chickens for young children should really monitor rooster behavior constantly. If the rooster appears to be eating on the ground, circling you, or starts strutting, be wary. Usually staring at the bird discourages him, but if the rooster shows any aggressive behavior toward humans, it is probably time to bring him to the butcher, before someone gets hurt!
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