Bird of a feather flock together

Chickens are great pets


Brissa Molina

Phoebe, 8, has been a member of the McDaid family for the last eight years. She loves people and being pet.

Kayne Gallegos, Times Staff

Chickens are not hard to care for. They are small, quiet and the hens will give you eggs. What is not to like?

You need about 10 square feet for each bird in the backyard. It is much better if the space is grass or dirt. Perpetual life on concrete is not good for any bird.

They also need a place to roost at night, so a coop that has about 2 feet for bird. A small wood shelter is easy and cheap to put together. Lumber boards, nails, and sheets of plywood is all that is needed.

Chickens are not able to fly well, so the standard 6 foot tall fence surrounding a property will keep them in.

My mother always got our chicken food in bulk, which is a standard practice. She would buy a big bag of mixed grains and it would last us about a month.

A final note, anyone who wants chickens needs to also get a small group of hens only. Chickens are flock animals, they like being around others. Roosters are too loud, while hens also give eggs that you can eat. Chickens are excellent at pest control, eating bugs and weeds. The larger bird breeds will eat any mice or lizards that they can catch.

In addition to being easy to care for and having some practical uses, Chickens come in many shapes and sizes, as well as temperaments.

Cochin are fluffy birds with feathers on their feet. They are dual purpose, and can be used for eggs and meat. They are also calm, quiet birds.

Ameraucana are broody, fidgety, flighty birds who lay blue eggs.

Silkies are really small chickens, part of a sub-category called bantams. Silkies are small and covered with hair instead of feathers. They also have black skin and bones.

I remember my first bird, one named Colonel Sanders, after the KFC Guy.

She was a Cornish Mix, a poultry industry standard. They are bred to be fat, to get a lot of muscle quickly so they can grow for a few months and then be eaten.

This, oddly enough, makes them good pets. Cornish-mixes are low maintenance. They are low energy, so they just waddle around, eating bugs. They are slow and don’t run, so they are easy to catch and tame. The whole reason I fell in love with the birds is because I could catch and cuddle the chickens.

We had to eat the Colonel. Birds whose primary purpose is to eat tend to get fat enough to break their legs, so eating them spares them some pain. However, I was hooked on chickens, so my mom had to go and get more chickens.

I currently live in Willow Glen, a neighborhood right in the middle of San Jose. I moved here back in 2015, coming from a small farm in the central valley.

Something that I left behind was a fat cat, Nacho, and a small flock of chickens, The Orbington Clan. Led by Sir Orbington the 3rd, the clan is a group of six Chocolate Orpingtons, a small fluffy breed of chickens.

I only have good memories of the birds and I go back to my mom’s home when I can, to see her and hang out with my little flock