Updated: Jan 27
Taking care of chickens can get dirty. Chickens are flightless birds raised on farms. I help raise chickens and can tell you from personal experience that they are very different from household pets like cats, dogs, and hamsters. They spend most of their time scratching in the grass and dirt searching for worms. You can train dogs and cats to do things like sit or to use a litter box. Chickens are not nearly as "trainable".
Some people think they are dumb. They have personalities. Just like your dog who loves leftover burritos or your parrot who only likes mimicking your dad. Maybe they have preferences for foods or they like to sleep on your bed. These are traits of your pet-- and there is a very small chance you will ever find others with this again.
How can chickens have personalities and can you shape them, if any?
Raising chickens from a chick, they will be comfortable with your presence and will like and honor you being their rooster. (We will talk about this later.) After they reach about 18 weeks (about 4 months) old, the chicks are now young hens, pullets, and have reached puberty... get ready.
Chickens need a place to lay eggs, and they need to know where. Try putting golf balls in the 'nesting box', there is a good chance they will know. If you do not have golf balls or this doesn't work, try picking up the chicken who needs to lay (they will walk around and make a low clicking sound) and put them in the nesting box. I highly recommend you leave them alone at this point: they should have privacy.
What it takes to be the rooster.
Even if you are not female, you may be the rooster; or another word for it: head hen. Pretty much, you are the leader or boss of your fellow hens, you decide where to eat, who eats first, and who is on your top list of favorite hens; these hens would usually be more dominant. You can tell who's a higher 'rank' or spot when a chicken lowers their head to another one, they would usually give them a poke on the head. Dominant chickens get to eat first, less dominant chickens may sometimes get really hungry, I like to be kind to the smaller ones. When a new chicken is introduced to the flock, they will fight. Not to worry, though, they are trying to determine who is the new boss or who is the new lowest hen. Most likely the strongest chicken (rooster or head hen) wouldn't fight the new hen, they just say "Okay, you are the boss." Do not interfere with these small fights, you will hurt yourself. As I said, they are trying to figure out who is in what spot.
If you come near a chicken and they hold still and squat, this is good! This means they know and/or accept you as their rooster, and are bowing down to you. This position is also the mating stance for a hen.
Can I be friends with one of my chickens?
Of course! If you spent enough time with them, they should be very familiar with you, and probably are not scared of you with gloves or new boots. To have a special bond with a chicken, you want them to trust you: hand-feeding is a good start. Grab some food, treat or an insect, and bring your hand near but not too close to the chicken, no closer than two feet. They should eat from your hand, if they peck you, there is a good chance they did it accidentally, they might back away after doing this to show they are sorry and don't want to be punished. If you sit on a chair in the backyard for a few minutes, a chicken might want to sit on your lap. You can tap on your lap and make a sound (or say a word) so they know that sound means "You can hop on here!" or "Come!"
After hopping on, you may pet the chicken or scratch their head, this is especially nice in the sun. They might close their eyes while you rub on their head, this means they like it, and their trust for you is getting higher.
Soon enough, you're a farm person. This is not a bad thing. You might have more fresh air than a person who does not have backyard pets. Your hands might be used to hard surfaces. Maybe you have a friend who has backyard pets and you can be backyard buddies!
Who knows, maybe one of your ladies wants to hatch her own babies?