Chickens would be a great animal to raise or keep as pets if you know what you are doing. They are not picky about what to eat, and they can act nicely when the environment poses no significant threat.
However, chickens have personalities. While there are some friendly chicken breeds, some will act aggressively by instinct for many reasons. Overall, are chickens friendly? What can you do to ensure their friendliness?
Are chickens friendly?
Overall, chickens are friendly if they see no potential threat. Some chicken breeds are friendly, others are aggressive. And oftentimes, chickens act aggressively to establish a pecking order.
Chickens can act friendly toward their owners. They have the ability to recognize up to 100 different faces and assign them to a good or bad experience.
As such, if you act nicely to them, they will likely remember it and start to develop affection for you. They may even enjoy being petted by humans once they are accustomed to human interaction.
However, chickens can be aggressive, especially roosters when it comes to the pecking order. Just keep in mind that the aggressive acts aren’t “intentional”, they are just the chickens’ instinct to do so.
The chicken breed also has an effect on how aggressive chickens are. Some chicken breeds are more friendly than others. This is important if you want to get your own chickens for your needs.
Further reading: Are chickens intelligent?
Why are chickens aggressive?
Social order within the flock: Chickens are social animals. Within a flock, some hens will assert dominance over other chickens to climb to the top of the hierarchy of the pecking order. They can resort to violence when other chickens try to fight back.
- Cramped space: too many chickens in a flock without adequate spaces can make already aggressive dominant chickens act more aggressively.
- Overheating: If the weather is too hot, chickens will start to act aggressively.
- Lighting: if chickens are exposed to light too much in a day, they can be hostile toward others.
- Nutrition imbalance: Low fiber and high energy diets, or diets that lack protein and amino acid can make chickens more likely to act aggressively.
- Cannibalism: pecking will result in injury, and more importantly, blood exposure. And that will attract other chickens, which results in more aggressive pecking and could lead to death within the flock.
- Unfamiliarity: if you suddenly introduce a new chicken without prior controlled contact, the chickens from the existing flock will be aggressive toward the new one.
- Environmental changes: abrupt changes in the environment will cause stress to the chickens, which results in aggressiveness.
Choose the friendly chicken breeds to prevent aggressive acts
One of the ways to prevent aggressive chickens is to get chickens from friendly breeds from the start. Their individual personalities may vary, but they are less likely to be aggressive toward others.
Some of the friendly chicken breeds include:
Silkies’ size and temperament make them one of the best chicken breeds to keep as pets. Their feathers are soft and fluffy and feel like silk, hence the name. they are also very cute animals, which appeals to children.
Some of the Silkies’ characteristics include beards obscuring their faces, bright and blue earlobes, and 5-toe feet. They have a sweet personality and like being petted and held.
Speckled Sussex is a large yet friendly chicken breed that has a single comb with feather-free feet. They can weigh up to 8 pounds for rooster and 6 pounds for hens.
They are curious, they like their owners holding, stroking, and talking to them. Although they aren’t suitable for keeping indoors due to their size, they would make great outdoor pets.
They are a great overall chicken breed. They can be raised for meat and eggs, as well as keeping as outdoor pets for clubs, families, and schools.
Buff Orpington is also ideal for children who love to play with them. They are patient, friendly, don’t mind being picked up, and love to receive treats.
Rhode Island Red
Rhode Island Red is very gentle and friendly. It is easy to keep, feels comfortable being held, and gets along pretty well with children.
It is also quite friendly with other chickens in its flock. And they can lay eggs all year around if you want to get eggs from them.
Cochins are very large compared to other breeds. Typical hens can weigh up to 8 pounds, and the figure is 11 pounds for roosters.
Despite the size, they are very friendly. They like human contact and children. They are also somewhat submissive to other chickens, so they don’t sit high in the pecking order.
Australorps are like the Australian version of the western Orpington breed. They are well-known for their egg-laying productivity
They are generally friendly, calm, peaceful, and bear confinement well, which makes them excellent for backyard pets.
Easter Eggers are hybrids of Ameraucana and Araucana chicken, not a chicken breed. They are known to produce unusual color eggs like blue, green, aqua, olive, or pink.
Generally speaking, they are easy-going, calm, and like to sit in their owners’ laps.
People use one word to describe the Faverolles: “sweet”. They are so gentle and social with other chickens and humans that they are often picked badly when they are with other breeds.
They are the perfect companions for humans. They love to be kissed and being held, and they don’t want to peck or attack anyone.
So, are chickens friendly? Chickens are generally very friendly. They can develop affection with humans and want human interaction.
However, chickens may act aggressively by instinct for many reasons, such as tight spaces, hot weather, light overexposure, sudden changes in flock members or environments, and more.
One way to not let aggressive behavior happen is to get a friendly breed chicken, like the Silkies, Buff Orpington, Rhode Island Red, and more.