Like all chickens, fluffy chickens will provide you with delicious eggs, companionship, and entertainment. However, they also have the added benefit of being extra soft and cuddly. In fact, these adorable chickens make fun family pets that are surprisingly easy to keep.
Types of Fluffy Chicken Breeds
Fluffy chickens come in all sizes and colors, so you're bound to find a breed that suits your family. Some of the most popular fluffy chicken breeds include:
Silkies. Silkie chickens are smaller than standard chickens. Many small breeds of chickens (called bantams) have normal-sized counterparts. However, silkies are considered true bantams because there's no full-sized silkie breed. Bantam chickens weigh 25 to 30% of what standard chickens do. As a result, they can be cheaper to care for because they don't need as much space or food.
True to their name, their feathers feel like silk. They're fluffy from head to toe. Silkies are also sweet-tempered, friendly, and generally great pets. They're often shown in poultry shows, which might be a good suggestion if you or your child are interested in doing that. They aren't the most productive egg layers, but they're excellent mothers.
Silkies are originally from Asia and likely made their way to the western world through the Silk Road. The first account of silkies came from Marco Polo, who wrote about chickens with fur-like feathers when he was traveling in Asia.
Cochins. Unlike the diminutive silkie, cochin chickens are remarkable because of their large size. Cochin chicken characteristics include abundant plumage that fully covers their legs and feet. These chickens weigh up to 11 pounds, and their fluffy feathers make them appear even larger (though there is also a smaller bantam version).
Originally bred in China, Cochins were exported to the US in the mid-19th century. They were an immediate hit with poultry lovers due to their distinctive, fluffy feathers and unique coloring. Cochins come in a variety of colors, including:
Faverolles. Faverolles were first bred in France and are named after the village where they originated. These medium-sized chickens have many long beautiful feathers, a muff, and a beard, all of which contribute to their fluffy look. Faverolles are adaptable and curious. They get along well with people of all ages, so they're a good option for those acquiring chickens as pets. They come in many colors, although only two, salmon and white, are recognized by the American Poultry Association as breed standards. If you're looking for a prolific egg layer, Faverolles hens lay from 150 to over 200 eggs per year. Roosters weigh around eight pounds, while hens weigh around six-and-a-half.
How to Take Care of Fluffy Chickens
Before you start picturing your backyard flock, check your community regulations and make sure there are no restrictions on keeping chickens. Chickens are flock animals, so you shouldn't keep just one. If your child is planning to exhibit your chickens for 4-H or in a county fair, check the rules before you buy chickens. You may need to ensure the breed you get is acceptable to show.
Housing. Whether you're buying a coop or building your own, you should ensure your chickens will be securely protected from predators. Your coop should be made in a high area that drains well. Use building materials that are easy to clean and won't rot. You'll need to provide each chicken with approximately 2 to 10 square feet of space. Nest boxes should be provided in a separate area for privacy.
Room to roam. Your chickens should also have a protected area where they can forage and explore during the day. You can allow them out in your fenced yard or provide them with a "chicken tractor" (a type of enclosed run). Keep in mind that the chickens will supplement their diet with plants and insects from your yard, so your enclosure may end up with bare spots.
Food and water. Your chickens will need access to abundant clean water and appropriate feed. Good nutrition will keep your chickens healthier and help them lay more eggs. Their feed should make up the majority of their diet, but you can also feed them some table scraps.
However, you should avoid giving your chickens the following:
- Raw, green potato peelings
- Nightshade vegetables, including potatoes, tomato leaves, pepper, rhubarb, or eggplants
- Skins and pits from avocados
- Sugar, including candy or chocolate
Benefits of Keeping Pet Chickens
The benefits of animals to humans are well-known. Interacting with pets or other animals can boost your mood, lower the amount of cortisol (a stress hormone) produced by your body, lower your blood pressure, and reduce feelings of loneliness. Most people think of dogs or cats when they think of the benefits of having a pet, but chickens can also be wonderful pets, especially for children.
Many fluffy chicken breeds, such as Silkies, are ideal for families with children. They're docile pets that provide many benefits to children such as:
Increased empathy. Fluffy chickens are naturally fascinating to children. Their funny, lovable appearance attracts children's interest and attention. As they interact with chickens, children have a chance to develop empathy by considering how their actions affect their fluffy pets. They'll learn to look through another's perspective — a skill that will help them in all aspects of their lives.
Sensory processing. Young children explore their world through their senses. Fluffy chickens offer a lot of satisfying tactile stimulation. Their soft, lush feathers are soothing to stroke, and most don't mind being carried around gently. Cuddling and petting the chickens help nourish a child's love and affection for them.
Companionship. Taking care of pet chickens nurtures a relationship. As this relationship grows, children will find comfort and companionship when spending time with their chickens.
Outside time. Children who spend more time outside are physically and mentally healthier, more engaged in learning, and display less aggression. They also play harder when they're outside and get more exercise. Increased time outside is associated with lower rates of nearsightedness and obesity, and when they're spending time with their chickens, your child will be reaping the benefits of such outside play.