Are chickens livestock or pets?

Normally, people raise and keep chickens for producing meat and eggs. The chickens will start laying eggs in about 18 weeks. After chickens can’t lay eggs anymore, they will be butchered for meat, or they will be used to make meat after meeting certain conditions.

But, in recent years, people have started to keep chickens as pets like many other regular pets. This act blurs the line between animals for material production and animal food simple keeping. So are chickens livestock or pets?

Are chickens livestock or pets?

Chickens are, and will always be considered as livestock animals. That is one of the chickens’ original goals when people put their hands on the Red Jungle Fowl over time.

As time goes on, what once was clear and easy to distinguish can now be hard to tell them apart, the line of definition can get blurry. The change often makes people’s perceptions altered, not actually about the core fact being changed.

This happens with the chickens’ role in the human world. The chickens were used for cockfighting, and then for eggs and meat production.

But recently, people have started keeping chickens as pets like dogs or cats. The recent occurrence blurred the line between livestock animals and pets.

In nowadays, there are a lot of chicken breeds for people to choose from thanks to the careful breeding of the chickens. This makes it easy for people to buy a chicken that is appealing to them.

People recently started to buy chicken based on their appearance more than on how the chickens can serve their need of consuming products.

But, the motivation of buying a chicken can not change the innate purpose of a chicken from the start. Even if there are many people buying a chicken to keep as a pet, the chicken’s main purpose is still to produce meat and eggs. So chicken will always be livestock animals.

Further reading: 21 Best Chicken Keeping eBooks

What’s The Difference Between Pets And Livestock?

Chickens are livestock animals
Chickens are livestock animals (Image Credit by Sincerely Media)

There are animals that fall immediately into the livestock category like the cow, and there are animals that are easily defined as pets like cats or dogs.

But some animals are not that easy to define like the rabbit. There are people who keep rabbits as pets and those who keep and raise rabbits for their meat and furs.

The question arises: can those who run rabbit farms see their meat and fur source as pets? Can normal people who previously keep a rabbit as a pet see it as a meal later on?

The difference between livestock animals and pets lies in the purpose of each type of animals:

  • Livestock are animals that are kept by humans for consuming purpose (like meat, eggs, body parts, furs, and more)
  • Pets are animals that are kept by humans but for the purpose of companionship, for showing affectionate acts like cuddling or petting.

As mentioned, chickens are a source of eggs and meats to fulfill human consumption needs, so they are considered livestock animals.

But, chickens have unique personalities for each individual and they can show and receive affection to and from other chickens and their owners. So it is okay to see the chickens as great companions more than just a living food source.

Can You Keep A Pet Chicken In House?

Humans can show love and empathy toward many animals, and thus form a bond between them and animals that are previously kept as livestock animals.

But, there are many reasons why you shouldn’t keep a livestock animal inside your house; and it has to do with respecting the environments the animals once lived in.

For example, while the chickens can show affection to their human fellows, they are still chickens. Their main natural environment is the open space outside.

Chickens are not evolved to live in a house. You can perform many measures to make sure the chickens act nicely within the house, but it can make their lives less enjoyable.

Chickens are livestock animals
Chickens are livestock animals (Image Credit by ANGELA NEWMAN)

Why shouldn’t you keep a chicken inside your house?


One of the chickens’ instincts is to scratch the ground to look for food, along with hatching and perching.

It is the chicken’s normal behavior to scratch and peck the ground as it is the way they are shown what is food and water. Without it, the chickens will get starving and thirsty not knowing how to get their own food and water.

Chickens are social animals

Chickens need the presence of other fellow chickens and form a flock with its own established pecking order. Without a flock, a chicken can feel stressed all day long. The only way to treat the problem is to bring the chicken back to its flock

Are chickens exotic pets?

Many generations of cross-breeding have created a wide range of chickens breed with vast personalities and appearance. The “Silkies”, for example, look nearly nothing like a regular chicken, so people may view it as an exotic pet.

However, for now, there are only a few unique chicken breeds, and most other breeds can be considered livestock animals. You can keep a few exotic-looking chickens though, just let them live in their natural environments.

For the most part, chickens are livestock animals that live in the open space in your backyard, go around to look for food, scratch the dirt to find and eat bugs, and your rewards are their eggs and meat.

Final thoughts

So, are chickens livestock or pets? Chickens have always been and will always be considered livestock animals. People originally kept and raised chickens for cockfighting, and later on for their meat and eggs, which is for consumption purposes.

On the other hand, pets are animals kept and raised to grow affection with humans, to be the humans’ companion. And the chickens should be able to live freely in their natural environment.