Introduce Your Kids to the Eggstraordinary World of Chicken Keeping

Introduce Your Kids to the Eggstraordinary World of Chicken Keeping
Chicken keeping has become more popular. (Fotokostic/Shutterstock)

Raising chickens is an all-around great experience for kids. Chickens are productive, pleasant to be around, and a provide a variety of learning experiences for your kids. I had a small chicken flock for years and because chickens are easy to care for and are relatively low maintenance, most kids will be able to easily manage the day to day chores while also delighting in the many rewards.

So let’s take a closer look at how best to introduce your kids to the wonderful world of chicken keeping and its educational benefits, as well as ways to broaden their chicken-keeping experience.

Why Chickens?

Chickens are wonderful pets. They’re intelligent and sociable like dogs and curious like cats. They’re active and playful little creatures and will be flap-happy with glee to have a daily playdate with your kids. Chickens are also chatty birds and they enjoy having “conversations” with their human keepers. They’ll also respond to music, singing, whistling, and any attempts your kids make at mimicking their clucks and coos.

Chickens can learn to respond to their names. Simply encourage your kids to greet each bird daily and offer a favorite treat like a strawberry or a grape. In the same way, they can also be taught to perform tricks such as jumping up onto your child’s lap.

You’ll also boost your family’s health with the nutritionally superior backyard chicken eggs your kids collect each day, because fresh eggs are healthier eggs. Fresh eggs contain less saturated fat and cholesterol, as well as more essential nutrients such as vitamins A, B, D, and E; phosphorus; calcium; zinc; omega-3 fatty acids; folic acid; and antioxidants.

Research and Read

First, be sure to check the livestock ordinances for your city or township to learn if you can have chickens on your property, and how many.
Then, you’ll need to do a bit of research to learn how to properly care for your new chicken flock. The best place to start is the Fresh Eggs Daily blog by author, speaker, and chicken-keeping guru Lisa Steele. Read Steele’s “The Beginner Guide to Raising Backyard Chickens“ to learn about essential nutrition, housing, and activity needs.
Get your kids involved with the prep work from day one with child-friendly chicken-keeping books: “A Kid’s Guide to Keeping Chickens” by Melissa Caughey, and “Your Chickens: A Kid’s Guide to Raising and Showing” by Gail Damerow.

Get Hands-on Experience

Chicken keeping is becoming more and more popular, so you’ll probably notice coops popping up in backyards everywhere. Spark your kids’ interest by visiting a nearby backyard chicken keeper’s flock. Introduce yourselves. Most will be happy to show you around, share their wisdom, and answer any questions you may have. And you might just go home with a carton full of delicious, fresh eggs.

Plan Your First Flock

An ideal first flock is made up of three to six hens (female chickens). Raising an all-female flock will give your kids the most positive experience; roosters are often possessive of their hens and may peck at your kids when nearby.

Consider whether you’d prefer day-old chicks, point of lay hens, or even healthy rescue hens if available. Chicks will require a little more time and effort because they’ll need to be kept inside in a brooder to keep them warm until they develop feathers and can move outside to the hen house. Alternatively, point of lay hens are adolescent pullets between the ages of 18 and 24 weeks, who will begin laying eggs soon. I suggest purchasing day-old chicks because they will imprint on your kids, which simply means the chicks will perceive your child/children to be their mother(s) and will bond quickly.

You’ll want to choose from some of the more child-friendly breeds such as Buff Orpingtons, Black Australorps, Silkies, Delawares, Brahmas, and Barred Plymouth Rocks.

I highly recommend purchasing your hens from either Meyer Hatchery or Cackle Hatchery, as both are owned and managed by longtime chicken keepers and allow you to buy a small batch of three or more chickens. Your local feed or farm store may also sell chicks in the spring, along with all of the equipment you need to get started.

Discover the Big Potential of a Small Flock

Chicken keeping has big potential. Raising chickens provides your kids with varied educational opportunities. In addition to learning about basic animal care and nutrition, your kids will learn the importance of biosecurity and how to best prevent predators from sneaking into the chicken coop.

Are your kids crafty and DIYers? Encourage them to design and build the chicken coop. Teach your kids the importance of sustainability and staying within a budget by seeking out used building materials from Habitat for Humanity’s Restores, family and friends, or local construction sites.

Many young chicken keepers become so captivated by their flock that they quickly seek out other ways to extend the experience. Does your child have an inner entrepreneurial spirit just waiting to hatch into a business? Selling eggs is an egg-cellent way to begin.

Also, the 4H program is another opportunity for your kids to learn and develop essential skills for running a chicken- or poultry-related business, either now or in the future. These programs pair up experienced adult mentors with kids ages 9 through 18 and the teams work on hands-on projects involving raising chickens and poultry, embryology, marketing and selling products, showmanship, and so much more.

Karen Doll is a freelance writer and homeschooling consultant based in the small village of Wassergass, Pennsylvania. She enjoys writing about homeschooling, gardening, food and culture, family life, and the joys of chicken keeping. Visit her at
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