ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Pets and Animals»
  • Farm Animals & Livestock

My Pet Chicken: Sweet Tweets

Updated on September 28, 2014
Sweet Tweets
Sweet Tweets | Source

Sweet Tweets

Though not considered the usual pet, chickens make great family members. They're friendly, easy to care for, and fun to have around. They also have surprising amounts of personality and are much more interesting than people expect.

Right now we have several pets, among them a sweet little chicken named Sweet Tweets. Most people when, finding out we have a chicken as a house pet, are very curious and want to know more about her and what she's like. So, I decided to write this article to tell a little about her and share the fun that comes from having a chicken live with you.

Getting Our Pet Chicken

Getting a Silkie Chicken
Getting a Silkie Chicken

Sweet Tweets originally came from a chick hatchery. Chick hatcheries are places that raise chicks and sell them to the public.

A couple in our area purchased a bunch of hatchery chicks, among them little baby Sweet Tweets. Sweet Tweets lived with the rest of the chicks for a couple of months, growing and maturing. She wasn't doing as well as the other chicks though and was starting to get weak and picked on. The couple who had her thought she might be blind so they decided to get rid of her to a home where there might be less chickens to pick on her and where she could get the care she needed.

They posted her on our local Freecycle site where I saw her. I recently wrote an article about having chickens as house pets (House Chickens) and it had made me miss having a house chicken, so seeing the posting really made me think.

I knew that many chickens of her breed (Silkie, sometimes called Japanese Silkie) were thought to be blind simply because they have so many feathers on their heads and around their faces that they can't see out. Also, many Silkies end up going blind because they get feathers that curl around and poke them in their eyes and cause problems. If that was the cause I could simple cut back her feathered crest and she might be okay, and if that was not the problem and she was truly blind, there was likely no way she would flourish in a normal chicken setting. Even in a small flock she would get picked on and have a hard time finding the food and water.

Blind chickens can survive in a normal flock, I know of several cases where it has happened, but generally the chickens end up wasting away. The owner has to always keep everything in the same place so the chicken can learn where they are and they also need to be watched very closely. Many people just can't devote that much time to one chicken.

Knowing all that, and that Silkies make wonderful house chickens since they are so calm and complacent, I decided to get Sweet Tweets from the lady and try to help her see again or at least give her a good home.

Sweet Tweets After Coming Home

When I picked up Sweet Tweets it was too dark to assess her, so it wasn't until we got back to the apartment that I could check her out to see what the problem was. She had a fairly full crest for her age, so the first thing I decided to do was clip some of it away from her eyes. That made it easier to see the problem.

Source
Silkie Chicken Hen
Silkie Chicken Hen | Source

Assessing Our New Chick

Sweet Tweets had bunches of feathers jabbing her in the eyes, causing fluid to leak and making crusty mats out of the feathers. This was exacerbated by her having a cold, an illness that many chickens catch (no, people can't catch it).

Often chickens become carriers of these chicken colds and show no signs of illness until they are stressed, in which case it exhibits itself. Healthy chickens can shrug it off, but lack of food, getting picked on, and being handled too much (the couple who had Sweet Tweets had many small children who liked to play with the baby chicks) all cause the cold to become worse and it may even kill the chicken eventually.

Since the symptoms of the cold are having a hard time breathing, getting plugged nostrils, and getting crusty mats over the eyes, it can get very serious. The chooks with the cold often can't find food since they go blind, and as they grow weaker and weaker the other chickens turn on them and peck them to death or they die of starvation.

By simply cleaning around the face regularly with a damp cloth to prevent buildup, the chicken almost always gets better as long as it is caught early enough. Most of the time the virus stays in their system though, so they should never be introduced to your flock since they can share the cold easily and they have to be watched so they don't relapse when stressed.

I figure Sweet Tweets started showing symptoms of the cold because she was extremely stressed by being handled too much and not being able to find enough food and water since the feathers were welded to her eyes. She wasn't naturally blind and so there was a chance she could regain her sight, as long as it wasn't too late.

Silkie Hen Asleep in a Basket
Silkie Hen Asleep in a Basket | Source

Helping Her Get Better

Since I work at home on the computer, I placed Sweet Tweets in a basket on the desk next to me where I could keep an eye on her.

Knowing the most dangerous part was her not getting enough food and water because she couldn't find it, every hour or so I dipped her beak into some fresh water and some food so she would be forced to eat and drink at least a little. I also kept tissues handy to wipe away any crusts that started forming over her eyes.

Since her crest was cut back and her face kept clean, Sweet Tweets' eyes started healing. As Sweet Tweets' eyes healed she started being able to see again.

She soon didn't need to have food forced on her, she went over and ate it herself and she became curious about what was going on. The more she ate and drank, the better the little chicken got, until she was finally well again.

Sweet Tweets and Cat Friend

Sweet Tweets eating treats by herself, while kitty Marin looks on. He's wondering why she's so excited about such yucky food.
Sweet Tweets eating treats by herself, while kitty Marin looks on. He's wondering why she's so excited about such yucky food. | Source

Naming Our New House Chicken

As Sweet Tweets got better, we decided that she needed a name.

She was really sweet, and docile, even for a Silkie, and I had been seeing a lot of a certain bird lately, the bird on the Twitter page. Plus, one of the first things I did after we got her was tweet about her, so we decided to call her Sweet Tweets.

Sort of like Tweety Bird, some of like Twitter, and all sorts of sweetness.

Chicken Little - Our Young Hen

Getting Silkie Hen
Getting Silkie Hen

Once Sweet Tweets started feeling better she started eating more and growing. She soon doubled in size and was no longer skin and bones and feathers.

Silkies don't get very big. Silkies are a type of bantam chicken, or you could call them mini chickens. Bantam or banty breeds are all smaller than standard chickens, but the different breeds vary. Silkies get only about a foot tall.

Sweet Tweets also fit herself right in with the rest of the pets, while remaining her sweet and docile self.

Silkie Hen Helping Me Write
Silkie Hen Helping Me Write | Source

Staying Close

Though she had her own cage to go to, Sweet Tweets liked to be near me when she went to sleep. Chickens are flock animals, so when you keep one as a house pet you need to be around them all the time since you are their flock and chickens can't stand being alone.

At bedtime, Sweet Tweets would try to leap onto the desk where I work. She couldn't quite make it though, jumping was definitely not her forte, but a quick boost and she'd be up on her spot where she could groom herself a bit then fall to sleep.

Silkie Hen Eating Watermelon
Silkie Hen Eating Watermelon | Source

Chicken Treats

Like all chickens, Sweet Tweets liked treats, though it would take quite a bit to convince her that the treat was good. Being shy and without other chickens to show her the way, she refused to touch most things.

To even get her to try watermelon I had to repeatedly tap my finger on the rim of the plate to make her think I was pecking at it, then when she still only gave it a curious stare, I tried making the sound that other chickens make when they eat food, no go. Finally, dipping her beak into the watermelon finally made an impression and she gave it a shot.

Finding out that the treat was tasty, Sweet Tweets then would eat a bunch.

Happy Hen Treats Mealworm Frenzy, 30-Ounce
Happy Hen Treats Mealworm Frenzy, 30-Ounce

Sweet Tweets, like most chickens, loved mealworms. They are a healthy and yummy treat for chickens.

 

Walking the Chicken

Walking house chicken on leash
Walking house chicken on leash | Source

House Chicken Dustbathing

Dustbathing is important to all chickens, including house chickens.

That means we either need to take them outside to a dustpile or give them dustbathing opportunities inside the house similar to chinchillas.

We tried giving Sweet Tweets plenty of different ways to dustbath, but she only wanted to dustbath on the carpet.

We would put Sweet Tweets in her harness and leash, then take her outside to all sorts of places that might appeal to her. She didn't like deep dirt. She didn't like smooth dirt. She didn't like dirt at all.

Sweet Tweets had absolutely no interest in being outside, being near dirt, or anything of the sort, so we made her a dust box in the house. The little chook decided it was nothing she wanted anything to do with it. The cats thought it was fun though, too fun, lol.

So since Sweet Tweets refused to dustbath we would give her baths with baby wipes and I'd hand pick at her feathers to groom her.

Silkie Chicken at Park
Silkie Chicken at Park | Source

Chickens Like Grass

After the utter failure of the dustbathing in any sort of dirt, we decided to let Sweet Tweets try some grass. Chickens love grass and little miss priss should love it too.

We took Sweet Tweets on a nice long drive in the car and eventually ended up at a pleasant park with nice lush grass and tons of trees, hoping that Sweet Tweets might enjoy it. It didn't work out any better though, and she got very upset when it got a bit breezy and the sun was too bright and the grass tickled her toes.

We kept trying and hoping we could find one day with absolutely no breeze and no distractions and no dirt and no grass and ...well, she never did like the outdoors.

Close-Up Chicken

Silkie Chicken Sweet Tweets Face
Silkie Chicken Sweet Tweets Face | Source

Sweet Tweets grew back her crest and always needs it trimmed back. She also needs to have her beak trimmed, it is ever so slightly twisted and she doesn't wear it down enough, so like fingernails, it keeps growing and growing.

In her chicken diaper
In her chicken diaper | Source

House Chicken Diaper

Since Sweet Tweets was a house chicken, she had a diaper she'd often wear around the house.

Chicken diapers are handy to have to avoid messes on the floor, but since Silkies have really feathery butts the feathers need to regularly be trimmed back to keep poop from sticking to them. Silkies are easier to have wear chicken diapers than some other breeds though because of their more upright body.

Sweet Tweets wasn't a very active chicken though, so most of the time it was just easier to put a cloth where she would regularly hang out and just shake it into the trash a couple times a day.

A Chicken-Cat - Is Sweet Tweets a chicken or a kitten?

Chicken Cat
Chicken Cat
Chicken and Cat Sleeping Together
Chicken and Cat Sleeping Together | Source

Sleeping on the Cat Tree

One of Sweet Tweets favorite places to be was the cat tree. It would sit abutted against my desk and there was even a level at the same height as my desk, so Sweet Tweets could wander back and forth between the two.

She liked to hang out with the cats as well, and often a feline or two would be perched on the cat tree. We covered her favorite level with a piece of towel to keep it clean.

Sweet Tweets would often sleep sort of weird. She liked to lay down, all stretched out, with her neck extended, and look like she was dead. Nope. She was just totally zonked out. Often, she would lay like that with her head hanging over the side, which I think had to give her a headache, but each time I tried to move her back into a more comfortable spot, she would wake up and give me quite a glare, then go back to sleep in the same position as before. Other times she would prefer her butt hanging over the edge, so we learned to position a trash can under that area to catch anything that fell so that area didn't have to be constantly vacuumed.

Perhaps Sweet Tweets got it from the kitties. As the picture to the right shows, my cat Alissandra would often lay the same way. I think they look a bit like a pair of dragons laying like that.

Unlike other chickens, Sweet Tweets never wanted to perch. Too lazy to sit up and roost, she just wanted to kick back and relax.

Is It a Chicken or Cat Cage?

Cat or Chicken Cage
Cat or Chicken Cage | Source

Since chickens like a place to call their own, I gave Sweet Tweets a cage to sleep in. The only problem was, she refused to sleep in it and would only use the cage about 10 minutes a day to eat in.

Since she wasn't using it, the cats claimed the spot as their own. They liked it a lot, but since Sweet Tweets wouldn't use it and we kept tripping on it, it got put away and the kitties had to find a new hideout spot.

Eating

Notice anything off in the picture below?

A Flock of Cats

Chicken Eating Cat Food
Chicken Eating Cat Food | Source

That's right, in the picture above Sweet Tweets is right there in the middle of the cats, eating their food.

Chickens adore cat food and Sweet Tweets was definitely not an exception to the rule. Perhaps because she watched the cats eating it, or maybe it's just because she liked it, but we had a hard time keeping her away from the cat food.

Some cat food is good for chickens. The extra protein helps them grow feathers better, which is great for when they are getting new feathers or molting, such as what Sweet Tweets was doing around this time. But too much protein is bad for them. Chickens can get gout just like people from too rich food, so they should be limited on how much they are allowed to have.

We put a bowl of chicken food right next to the cat food so we could easily redirect her toward the appropriate food. It's also encouraged her to eat her own food since when I refilled the cat food bowl and the cats would come racing up, she would race up to her food dish and gobble down food too. Unlike most chickens, Sweet Tweets wasn't a big foodie though, and she did not really obsess over what she ate. In fact, it was often hard to get her to eat enough.

Chicken and the Cats on My Desk

Sweet Tweets and Mendi sleeping together
Sweet Tweets and Mendi sleeping together | Source
Trinity squishing Sweet Tweets
Trinity squishing Sweet Tweets | Source

The cats seemed to think Sweet Tweets was a cat as well. They would give her baths and try to groom her. My cat Trinity, would even hold her down like a kitten while she cleaned her. Though she squawked a little at having to put up with it, Sweet Tweets didn't really mind at all.

Trinity Giving the Chicken a Bath

Source

Curious Chicken

Curious Silkie Chicken
Curious Silkie Chicken | Source

Cute Pics of Silkie Chicken

Intent Sweet Tweets

Source
Silkie Feather
Silkie Feather | Source

A Feather from Sweet Tweets

Sweet Tweets had feathers, like all Silkies, without barbels.

Barbels are little hooks that keep the sections of feather together, sort of like the hooks on Velcro. So, Silkie feathers are missing a key feather ingredient that would help their feathers stay flat.

That means instead of the sections of the feathers laying down flat and smoothly like most bird feathers, all of Sweet Tweets' feathers are more like down and had a furry, fluffy appearance. It made her look like she was furry and not a chicken at all.

Silkie Feathered Feet
Silkie Feathered Feet | Source

Sweet Tweets' Feet

Some chickens have feathers all the way down to their toes, Silkies are one of those breeds.

Silkies are unusual in the chicken world though, they have five toes. Most chicken breeds do not, though there are a couple of other breeds that do.

Not all Silkies have five toes, though all should. It is a breed requirement, but there has been a lot of bad breeding that has caused bad feet to appear. Many Silkies have toes joined together or missing toes altogether.

Sweet Tweets didn't have perfect feet for a Silkie, but had the five toes on both feet at least.

Sweetie Sweet Tweets

Source

Coy Sweet Tweets

Source

What's With You and the Camera?

Source

Learn More About Chickens

Raising Chickens For Dummies
Raising Chickens For Dummies

Learn more about chickens with this handy book that will teach you all you need to know to raise your own.

 

What's Up Chicken-Butt?

Source

© 2009 Alisha Vargas

Reader Feedback

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      ness 2 years ago

      Chicken diapers taking her for a walk on lead ...lmao you are an even crazier chicken lady than I am. I like you.

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 5 years ago

      Thank you for publishing this lens. I'm glad to find another use for chickens.

    • alexandradouglas profile image

      Alexandra Douglas 5 years ago from Florida

      Great lens here! I know there is a huge market for poultry pets. I have a farm and many people ask if they can make good pets. Well of course they can! Keep up the great work! Feel free to visit any of my lenses.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I LOVE THIS! For over two years i have also had an indoor silkie. I had gotten her from a family friend thinking when she gets larger she could go out with the bigger girls in the chicken coop. I had attempted twice to put her in there, and both times she had been bullied. So i gave up and let her live inside with my family. Shes the sweetest little girl, she loves to snuggle up under my neck, and she purrs when i hold her. It's hilarious, and adorable! It's so nice to see someone else has a cute silkie living in there home like me.

    • mihgasper profile image

      Miha Gasper 5 years ago from Ljubljana, Slovenia, EU

      Sweet Tweets is really appropriate name:) You sure have fun together!

    • Country-Sunshine profile image

      Country Sunshine 5 years ago from Texas

      I've raised chickens for several years, but never had a silkie. Love the story, and your article!

    • indigomoth profile image

      indigomoth 5 years ago from New Zealand

      Such an adorable chicken.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thank you for sharing about Sweet Tweets and how she lives with you inside your home.

    • profile image

      cmadden 5 years ago

      I would love to see Trinity giving Sweet Tweets a bath! So cool!

    • WhimsicalWatters profile image

      WhimsicalWatters 5 years ago

      It is cool your cats can get along with Sweet Tweets.

    • PastorCher profile image

      Pastor Cher 5 years ago from United States

      This is amazing. I love how the cat is in the cage eating, and Sweet Tweets is eating with the other cats. You would think that the cats would be a danger for her, but you can see that isn't the case. Thanks for sharing this with everyone.

    • Leilani-m profile image

      Leilani-m 5 years ago

      What a cutie! Beautiful chicken, and the photos with cats are just adorable :) I don't think my cat would be so friendly :)

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 5 years ago from New Zealand

      This is a beautiful story I enjoyed reading it very much, and now I love your Sweet Tweet.

      I would like a chicken like yours. Thanks for sharing with us. Blessed

    • profile image

      MustangHistory 5 years ago

      Nice hens.

    • profile image

      MustangHistory 5 years ago

      Great lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Oh the reason it has to be deep dirt or sand is because they take the bath by kicking it up as they roll in it and half bury themselves rolling back and forth. It kinda scratches their back I think. Sometimes it makes them so happy they purr!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I came across your blog when googling very upset because one of my beloved Silkies went blind today. A few minutes ago I was crying. This just lifted me up and you need to send these pics to the news. This is a rare story!!

      As for the dust baths, they won't use just any dirt. They have to have a deep area of it. If you want a real treat, get one of those aluminum containers you cook turkey in and fill it with sand or find, like I did, an indented area of the yard like at a fence corner of any place it dips down and fill it with regular play sand. I would bet money she will be rolling in it. They just go crazy when I bring in the sand and can't stop giving themselves a bath. It must feel awfully good! When the sand runs out eventually through wind and rain they just give up and when I bring it back they are all over it. :-)

      I don't see any hair around my silkie's eyes. I think it could be a bacterial infection but you give me hope of the rest of her life....I brought her some canned meal worms today I found at the pet store for parrots and she chowed down so she still has the will to fight it!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      We just two slikie's and we've never owned chickens before. I loved your page, we were afraid to bring the chicks in because we have cats, all declawed, but still, cats. After seeing your page, there is hope for us! Thanks again for posting.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I JUST LOVE SILKIES!!!!!!!!!! THEY ARE SOOOOOOOOOO CUTE AND LOVEABLE, AND AFFECTIONATE!!!!!! MY FAVORITE BREED OF CHICKEN FOR ALL TIME!!!! SILKIES THERE IS NOTHING LIKE THEM. ONCE YOU GET ONE, YOU MUST HAVE MORE AND MORE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      bohnanza22 6 years ago

      I love the pics of your chickens eating with your cats.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Thank you for sharing, Alicia. We have been considering getting a silkie for an indoor pet. I wonder does yours wear a diaper? I saw those online and wondered how that worked for you (chicchix seemed nice and the lady Carol was so nice). One of the reasons we want a chicken such as a Silkie is b/c we are involved in veg education--basically educating people about a vegetarian diet. This spring we will start our work through a national organization. So, having a little sweet chicken will definitely make people think twice about eating a chicken sandwich. Please tell me you are veg or my whole assumption is wrong.

      Thanks, Stavit stavitm@yahoo.com 248-905-1511

    • veealex profile image

      veealex 6 years ago

      I LOVE your lens. I want a silkie too!

    • PurplePansy LM profile image

      PurplePansy LM 7 years ago

      I really enjoyed reading this. The stories and pictures of Sweet Tweets are so cute and entertaining! I'll have to take a look at your lens about having pet chickens. My sister has been trying to convince me to get a pet chicken. I used to think the idea was strange, but I've been finding more and more information (such as your lens) that is convincing me that I might like to try it.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 7 years ago from United States

      Sweet Tweets is absolutely beautiful. I am so glad she has you and the "kitties". Before I started reading your lenses, I never considered chickens for house pets. I have learned much.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Wow, a house chicken! Sweet Tweets looks like a pretty cool pet.

    • profile image

      GrowWear 7 years ago

      Thoroughly enjoyed meeting Sweet Tweets!