Can you keep chickens as a pet in the apartment?
Chickens have become a very popular animal in recent years, even in private households.
It’s just nice to know where your breakfast egg comes from – isn’t it?
Again and again, we have recently received the question of whether chickens can also be kept indoors as pets.
In itself, keeping chickens in the house is not prohibited, as they are classified as small animals and may be kept even without the express permission of the landlord.
Nevertheless, keeping chickens in the apartment is not recommended (even not possible), as this would not be species-appropriate for the chickens and the animals can cause a lot of problems in the four walls.
Therefore, we will show you how chickens can live with you as pets in a species-appropriate way and what their housing needs are. We will also show you alternatives to keeping chickens as pets within an apartment.
Why it is not possible to keep chickens in the apartment?
Although the chicken is a very social and also intelligent animal, the chickens can not be kept like dogs or cats in an apartment or house.
There are several points against keeping them in the apartment: first of all, the natural needs of chickens are not compatible with such an attitude. The chickens need a floor for scratching, a sand bath for plumage care and have a high need for movement.
In addition, chickens are very social animals and cannot be kept alone; they need a group, which should consist of at least five birds.
A group of chickens needs a lot of space, because although the legal requirements provide only one square meter for nine chickens, animal welfare activists recommend ten square meters with green areas and nesting facilities for already four animals.
In an apartment, this would take up at least one or even several rooms, and the animals would still not have a substrate suitable for their species.
In addition, the chickens would not get used to a litter box and would spread their droppings throughout the house. Therefore, the chickens in the house are also very problematic due to the hygienic aspect.
You should also always consider the loudness of a group of chickens. Even hens can be a smell and noise problem for the neighborhood. The most important point that speaks against keeping chickens in the apartment is that the animals can not pursue their natural needs and thus a species-appropriate husbandry is not possible.
We will go into more detail about the needs of the animals later and first summarize the most important points again for you.
What speaks against keeping chickens in the apartment:
Chickens are group animals
Loudness of the animals
Natural needs can not be felt
We show you alternatives to keeping chickens indoors, so you still don’t have to do without fresh eggs and can take care of your poultry in a species-appropriate way.
Legal requirements in the context of keeping chickens
There are only very few regulations for keeping chickens, most of them only refer to disturbance of the peace by the animals or to odor nuisance and only come into force after a detailed complaint from the neighbors.
The animal protection however has very clear ideas, how a kind-fair chicken attitude looks, here you can orient yourselves, how you accommodate best your chickens.
First, however, we want to show you the two most important conditions and specifications for keeping chickens by the state. There are two governmental regulations to consider.
On the one hand, the legal regulations regarding the keeping of pets in the apartment and on the other hand, the legal regulations regarding the keeping of chickens.
Keeping pets in the rented apartment or house
Although chickens are considered farm animals, they are classified as small animals in the house regulation.
According to the law, keeping small animals in rented apartment is allowed even if there is no regulation on animals in the rental contract.
Only if the contract completely prohibits the keeping of pets, small animals can also be prohibited. No extra permission is required for farm animals or similar, but neighbors may complain about the noise or smell of the animals and the landlord may then demand that the animals leave the house.
Specifications for keeping chickens as farm animals
The legal requirements allow up to nine chickens to be kept in one square meter of space. At least one third of the area must be provided with litter material such as straw or similar.
The legal requirements for keeping chickens differ significantly from the recommendations of experts and animal welfare activists. These call for significantly more outdoor space for the animals and species-appropriate housing. In addition, perches are required for each animal, which should have at least 25 cm per animal.
These specifications are difficult to implement in an apartment.
Natural behavior of chickens
The natural behavior of chickens speaks most against keeping them in an apartment.
If you look at chickens in a species-appropriate housing, you will quickly notice their high social cooperation with each other. Mutual plumage care and social interaction can be observed all the time. However, if the chickens have too much stress, their behavior can turn into aggression and even cannibalism towards conspecifics. Unfortunately, this can be observed over and over again with floor keeping and especially with cage keeping of the animals and also in an apartment the chickens would not show normal social behavior and suffer from stress.
The communication of the animals can also be a problem. With the cooing that the animals repeatedly give of themselves, they remain in contact even over a certain distance and just this cooing can be very loud with several animals in an apartment. Especially since the chickens need enough space to search for food all day, to scratch and also to retreat.
Since chickens normally live in the understory and would retreat to trees to sleep, they need a solid coop with perches for each animal.
Ideally, they should have a large run with small bushes or other hiding places.
Animal welfare advocates require a permanent coop for the birds and a run of at least 10 square feet for four chickens with the opportunity for a dust or sand bath and a regular supply of fresh water and feed.
The chickens also need daylight for the formation of certain metabolic processes and especially the chicken droppings and dust from the wings can cause a strong odor nuisance in closed rooms.
Respiratory diseases in the chickens and humans can be the result of keeping them indoors.
Tips for keeping chickens in a manner appropriate to the species
Keeping chickens as pets indoors is not possible.
However, this does not mean that you have to completely abandon chickens as pets. Individuals can keep chickens as pets, but only in a species-appropriate way.
For example, chickens can be kept in the garden. This requires a chicken coop that provides a roosting and nesting place for all animals and a fenced run. If you do not have your own garden, you can also look for an allotment or a leisure garden. However, you must make sure that animal husbandry is allowed there.
If you have a balcony or terrace, you can keep quails as pets instead of chickens. These are usually housed in large aviaries and also lay eggs regularly. These are smaller than chicken eggs, but are even considered a delicacy.
Quails have almost identical behavior to chickens, but are much smaller and can be kept more easily.
The alternatives at a glance:
Keeping in the garden or nesting garden
Quails on the balcony or a terrace
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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