Chicken Keeping For Kids

Lynn Coulter
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Ivy Falls with chicken eggs

 

Like the gangsters they’re named for, Bonnie and Clyde keep trying to escape–but these two aren’t in the federal pen.

Bonnie and Clyde live in a chicken pen, where they’re doted on by their owner and keeper, 16-year-old Ivy Falls. 

Ivy, who lives with her family near the Georgia-Tennessee border, fell in love with chickens around age 12, when she took part in a 4-H project for seventh graders.

“(The 4-H leaders) gave us 11 hens and one rooster, and we had to raise them from baby chicks. We were supposed to take them back when they were grown, so we could be graded, but we decided not to. We liked our chickens and wanted to keep them,” Ivy says.

Ivy Falls feeding chickens

Ivy has been smitten with her feathered friends ever since, and says their fresh eggs taste a lot better than the ones you can buy. “The store-bought ones taste fake to me now. It’s like the difference in eating stale bread and fresh bread.”

While Ivy’s original chicks were Black Orpingtons, she and her mom and dad now own bantams, game chickens, and a few Rhode Island Reds. Her dad built them a covered pen to keep out predators. “We live on a hill surrounded by woods,” Ivy explains, “and we’ve had snakes, raccoons, foxes, possums, bobcats, and coyotes. Hawks are the number one predators.”

Keeping chickens can be great for children, to help them learn about sustainability and where food comes from. They develop responsibility, too, as they feed and care for the birds.

PItch-A-Fit , one of Ivy’s roosters, became a favorite pet. “We got Pitch and three other chickens from the pet store, and they lived in the house when we brought them home, until they were old enough to go outside.” Ivy admits that Pitch became–well, spoiled.

 rooster

 

“My mother would hold him and baby him, and when she’d put him down, he’d start screaming and wouldn’t stop.” Ivy laughs. “He was a sweet little chicken to her, but he didn’t like anyone else. He got to be a brat that would ignore everyone else and walk around like he was a king.”

Ivy has named some of her other birds, too: there’s Tiny, Cookie, and one most of us probably wouldn’t want to meet whose name is Schizo– as in “schizophrenic.” Some chickens can get mean when they get older, Ivy says, so while keeping chickens can be a good experience for kids, adults should always supervise.

 Ivy Falls gathering eggs

Ivy’s a sophomore in high school now, hoping to major in music when she goes to college, so she can keep playing her clarinet, piano, and oboe. Until then, she’ll take care of Bonnie and Clyde and the rest of her flock.

If you’re thinking of getting chickens for your kids, Ivy recommends trying bantams. “They make good pets, if you just want chickens to play with. They’re tiny and stay tiny, even when they grow up. They’re easy to take of and don’t need a big pen. They even have tiny eggs about the size of your thumb that can eat. They’re really cute.”

Images: Teresa Falls

 

 

 

 

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