I don’t know if this needs to be said to my audience, but I would rather say it needlessly than ignore the issue. Holidays in households that have children, especially households that have children, sometimes cause an animal to be purchased and brought into the home. I know from experience that these animals have a very short life span on the average.
I talked my mom into buying me a cute, fuzzy duckling one Easter. Poor thing lived the first few months of its life in a small bird cage. I gave it fresh water and food, but didn’t let it out of the cage for fear it would go away. Sadly, when my brother discovered the duck at nearly the same size as the cage, he and my mom told me we had to find a better home for the duck. And we did. And that was a lucky duck, too. I don’t know what would have become of it had no one noticed its sad life. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMbROQWPn8E
So cute now, but they don’t stay small and fuzzy.
I grew up a bit, but still wanted more and more pets. Again at Easter, I had two bunnies from an aunt, and a handful of fuzzy chicks from the local feed store. I had no proper hutch for the bunnies, and no roosting place for the chicks. They were dumped into the same wire-enclosed box frame with no floor. Even in California, March and April are cold months. Every morning when I went out to feed and water the stock, I would find a flat chick. Bunnies are not stupid. They used the chicks to stand on so their feet were warm. I didn’t figure this out until the last chick had become a floor, and then my mom said we needed to rehome the bunnies. The bunnies got off better than the chickens. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M845g8xRmUc
Bunnies do not play well with chicks.
If you have thought things through, and are going to keep backyard poultry once the cuteness wears off the chicks, good for you! Fresh eggs are wonderful, and will help you budget your food expenses. You might even be able to sell the excess to friends, but be aware of local laws in that regard. Chickens also can help keep a garden free of some pests, as long as they don’t actually get in to the growing area. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJdkmgiUqs8
You must read Hen and the Art of Chicken Maintenance. http://www.amazon.com/Hen-Art-Chicken-Maintenance-Reflections/dp/1592287700 Martin Gurdon and his wife recount their adventures in poultry raising, and get to know their chickens as individuals. I love this book.
One last thing to touch on: Chickens may need special protection from predators. Dogs, cats, rats, raccoons, possums, coyotes, hawks and other birds of prey, weasels, and occasional other chickens. If you are able to keep a rooster, he may be valuable in fighting off some of these, and also raising an alarm. Most of all, value your chickens as much as any pet you have, and take the best care of them that you can.
Thanks for reading. I’ll be back on Thursday.