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September 2023

First Pet Chicken Guide


Chickens are a great addition to any family, and they come with the added benefit of fresh eggs! Taking care of them is still essential and PETstock is here to help. With consultation from expert PETstock Vet Dr Tara Morris, here is your guide to chicken care and ownership.

Should I Get A Pet Chicken?

Chickens make excellent pets and they’re a great addition to any family with the added benefit of fresh eggs! Keeping chooks can be a rewarding experience for the whole family and they can be raised to be just as loyal as your friendly canine companion. Who said only a dog can be a man’s best friends? Chickens are just as capable!

Council Laws Surrounding Pet Chickens in Australia

The good news is all Australian states allow for chickens to be kept in a residential backyard! Something to consider, though, is that all councils in Australia have guidelines & regulations about the restrictions and limitations of keeping chickens. For example, there may be restrictions on the number of chickens you’re allowed to keep – so be sure to check with your local council prior to purchasing your flock.

Hot Tip

When purchasing a chicken, make sure you don’t accidentally buy a rooster. Regulations around keeping roosters in residential areas are much stricter due to the potential noise disruption to neighbours.

What You Need For A Pet Chicken

Chickens are relatively inexpensive to keep, but they do have set-up costs. Most importantly, you’ll need to ensure your backyard is safe as chicken need protection from various threats such as excessive heat, rain, or other hazardous weather conditions, not to mention dangerous predators like foxes, cats, or even other family pets.

Chicken Coops and Cages

It’s a good idea to get a chicken coop to establish a safe space for your chickens. It will provide shade and protect against direct sunlight in summer, while keeping your chickens dry in winter. It also provides shelter for rest and recuperation and creates a comfortable laying environment for your hens.

Make sure you don’t overcrowd your chicken coop – this results in increased chances of your chickens fighting amongst each other.

Make sure to regularly clean and maintain your chicken coop for the safety and comfort of your new pets. Appropriate ventilation is key to maintaining a happy and healthy flock. This isn’t just for temperature control (though it is important to have airflow to keep temperatures down in summer) but also for the overall health of your chickens as chickens produce large amounts of moisture in their waste and, without ventilation, this will cause the air to become damp and a breeding ground for germs, bacteria, and viruses.

You’ll also need to choose a flooring material for your chicken coop. While it’s possible to just use the base of a shop-bought coop, or the natural flooring of the bar, this will make it more challenging to clean as chickens produce a fair amount of waste. They’ll also step on this waste and pack it down, making it increasingly challenging to keep things clean. A flooring is an easy solution as you can just sweep out the mess and replace it with fresh flooring.

Popular flooring options include hay, straw, and wood shavings – though some chicken owners opt for permanent fixtures like concrete, floorboards and wire bases.

Chicken Feed and Water Feeders

Much like humans, chickens tend to behave poorly if they are bored or hungry, which makes food the best way to keep them readily engaged. Chickens are just like us!

To ensure your chickens are getting sufficiently fed and watered, you can use chicken feeder and drinkers. These are food and water dispensers that you set up in your chicken coops to ensure they can eat and drink at their leisure.

Hot Tip

Chicken feeders and drinkers should be hung so the base is above the ground to stop food and water from being contaminated with poop or dirt – but ensure they’re still within easy eating and drinking range.

What Should I Feed My Chickens?

Pet chickens should be given the nutrients that they would be subject to in the wild, with many of these found in insects, seeds and plants found in the backyard. Laying hens are omnivores, meaning it is in their nature to consume both meat and vegetable material. In the wild, their diet would consist of insects, worms, carcasses, seeds, and other plant material. Laying hens will not be sustained on vegetable scraps alone. To achieve good health, well-being and egg production, a laying hen must receive a balanced diet.

Chicken feed is the best and most cost-efficient bet to keep your backyard chickens satisfied and content. Their diet should also be supplemented with fresh vegetables and meat.

A great treat every now and then is live crickets or mealworms as they are both high in protein and help with your egg production. Mealworms are a great choice, as each mealworm is nearly 50% protein.

Hungry Chicks

Want to learn more about what to feed your chickens? Let us guide you through the ins and outs of what chickens eat and drink.

Read More

Chicken Accessories

Believe it or not, chickens like to play – and it’s a good idea to provide them with enrichment toys to keep them entertained and stimulate their natural instincts and behaviours – like pecking and perching. Popular options include chicken swings (they look adorable and chickens love the motion of a moving perch) or toys which encourage them to peck like musical toys or treat skewers.

Health Treatments for Chickens

Egg Laying Chicken Health Tips

It’s a good idea to include calcium and protein into your laying hens’ diet. This promotes stronger eggshells and encourages healthy egg playing. You can do this by customising their diet, but the easiest way is perhaps with vitamin supplements.

Parasite Prevention for Chickens

Beware of parasites! The most common culprits for parasitic diseases among chickens are mites, lice, ticks and worms. Chickens with parasitic infections can show an array of symptoms, including loss of feathers, loss of appetite, skin irritation and lethargy.

To avoid parasites, treat your chickens with wormers and parasite prevention. Clean your coop with products designed to fight parasites. It’s also crucial to clean your chicken coop regularly to avoid parasites – as soiled begging attracts them.

Hot Tip

Avoid second-hand chicken coops if you can – as these can come already infected with parasites.

Bathing and Clean Up for Chickens

While chickens generally keep themselves clean and will preen each other in their downtime – it is occasionally necessary to clean your chickens. This occurs if:

  • Your chicken is excessively muddy (especially if they have dried mud caked on them.
  • Your chicken has had something spilt on them or fallen into a foreign substance.
  • Your chicken has been pooed on.
  • Your chicken has a poo-stained bottom which could prevent them from passing waste easily.

How to Bathe a Chicken

  1. Fill a large receptacle with warm water – no need to add soap or other harsh chemicals. Chickens have oil in their glands which helps to clean and maintain their feathers.
  2. Spot clean your chicken wherever possible using a gentle sponge. If your chicken had caked on muck, allow the area to soak and soften – do not pull at grime as you’ll hurt your chicken and damage their feathers.
  3. Once your chicken is clean, towel dry them gently using a patting motion (do not rub).
  4. Allow your chicken to dry off. If it’s a warm day with sun, let your chicken do this themselves. If it’s a cold or wet day, however, use a hair dryer to dry your chicken. Use a low/medium heat setting as a maximum, and do not hold the dryer closer than 30cm away from your chicken.
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How to Care for a Pet Chicken

Once you’ve brought your chicken home and set them up with the essentials, chickens are relatively easy to care for. Their day-to-day care is fairly hands off and consists of the following:

Providing Proper Nutrition to Your Chicken

You will need to feed your chickens daily – their diet should consist of a mix between commercial feed and kitchen scraps, and you should:

  • Choose a feed that's appropriate for your chickens' age and stage of development.
  • Supplement your chicken’s diet with fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Always provide access to clean water.

Chicken Food

Commercial feeds are rich in nutrients, as well as being a convenient way of ensuring your chooks aren’t going hungry. PETstock sells a range of reputable chicken feed brands, including Barastoc, Coprice, Green Valley, Laucke Mills, and Peters.

Shop Chicken Food

Providing Adequate Shelter to Your Chicken

Your chickens will need a safe and comfortable place to roost and lay eggs. Here are some tips for providing proper shelter:

  • Provide a coop that's large enough for your flock to move around comfortably.
  • Make sure the coop is well-ventilated but also protected from drafts.
  • Provide plenty of nesting boxes for your hens to lay their eggs.

Keeping Your Chickens Healthy

Keeping your chickens healthy is crucial to their well-being and productivity. Here are some tips for keeping your flock free from disease:

  • Keep their living area clean and dry.
  • Provide plenty of fresh air and sunshine.
  • Prevent the spread of disease and reduce the risk of parasites by cleaning up waste regularly.
  • Practice parasite prevention.
  • Provide toys for enrichment.

Pet Chicken Guide FAQs

What breed of chicken should I get?

If you’d like pet chickens that produce eggs your most common breeds for egg laying are the Rhode Island Red’s, ISA Brown, Hisex Brown and the Hy-line Brown, but there are so many different breeds available, it just depends on what you are looking for. Make sure you research what type of hen you wish to keep as some require different environments and specific needs.

How much space do my chickens need?

To determine the appropriate size of a hen house, allow approximately 0.37 square metres (4 sq.ft.) of floor space per bird.

How often should I clean my chicken coop?

It's a good idea to clean your chicken coop at least once a week to prevent accumulation of droppings and bacteria.

What should I do if one of my chickens gets sick?

If you suspect one of your chickens is sick, isolate them from the rest of the flock and contact a vet that works with poultry.

Can I feed my chickens table scraps?

Yes, you can feed your chickens table scraps, but be sure to avoid giving them anything that's high in salt, sugar, or fat.

First Pet Chicken Checklist

✓ Hutch

✓ Feeder

✓ Drinker

✓ Feed

✓ Live Food (crickets / mealworms)

✓ Straw or Hay

✓ Wood shavings

✓ Mite & Lice Treatments

✓ Worming treatments

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Check List

Chicken Check List

Download a printable checklist

Download Check List