It depends on the individual chicken, their breed, and how they’ve been socialized. But generally speaking, yes, chickens like to be pet. In fact, some LOVE being petted, stroked, and fussed.
Do Chickens Like to Cuddle?
Most people assume chickens are not cuddly like cats and dogs, but how wrong that assumption is!
I will say first, however, that some chickens do not want to be cuddled. For the most part, it comes down to their personality and how they’ve been socialized and handled from chicks.
But much like cats, dogs, other household pets, and even humans, chickens have individual personalities and certain interactions they like or don’t like.
My earliest memory of cuddling a chicken was when I was about 10-12 years old. My parents would take me to a local farm where they’d have activities for kids like feeding baby goats, petting rabbits, and holding chickens.
They had a large Light Sussex called “Betty” that loved the attention, and I really mean loved it! She would come and jump on the lap of anyone there to see her and would welcome a cuddle and some petting.
Most of the hens at the farm enjoyed it as they were so used to having visitors and socializing with humans.
But there was one hen that had no interest in being held. I think she was a Speckled Sussex if I remember correctly, and she’d literally run in the other direction when someone would approach.
She grew up with the other chick and had been handled in the same way. The farmer would say she’s “anti-social”.
Looking back now, for one I can’t blame her, who would want to be handled by loads of noisy kids?
Well, Betty, of course. But, the moral of the story is, don’t be too surprised or offended if any of your chickens don’t want to be cuddled or handled.
Do Chickens Like to Be Held?
The story I shared about Betty above also applies to chickens being held. Some like it, some tolerate it, and some hate it.
Much like most animals, the more you handle them from an early age the more comfortable and accustomed they’ll be to being held.
But sometimes, you’ll come across a chicken that doesn’t like being held. You’ll have to respect that and give them their space.
I will add, the way you approach a chicken can make a big difference to how they act. Always approach quietly, while making them aware that you’re approaching.
Don’t bear down on them or approach from behind, they really hate that. Try and approach them head-on and talk to them in a comforting voice so they’re prepared to be handled.
Be very gentle when handling chicks, they are very fragile. If you’ve never handled a chick but you’re preparing to get some, you’re in for a treat. They really do feel as soft and fuzzy as they look.
Do Chickens Show Affection to Humans?
Chickens are affectionate animals, both towards their young and other members of their flock, and towards humans too.
They don’t show affection like a cat or a dog does. Don’t expect them to come up to you and rub their faces or roll over and expect a tummy rub, but they have their own little ways to show you they love you.
For the most part, chickens demonstrate how much they love and trust us by following us around, getting involved in what we’re doing in the yard, pecking food out of our palms, and of course, being pet or cuddled.
Related - Here's evidence that chickens do in fact show love to their owners.
Should You Pet Your Chickens?
Absolutely (as long as you want to), I recommend petting your chickens when you’re spending time with them.
After all, petting and fussing our pets is one of the most rewarding parts of having them around the home, right?
It’s great for bonding with them. It’s also good for our health, according to HelpGuide.com, pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression, petting cats and dogs (I’m sure this applies to chooks too) reduces anxiety and stress, interacting with pets can lower blood pressure… the list of benefits goes on.
I can tell you for a fact that I feel so much happier after seeing and interacting with my chickens. That’s all the evidence I need for petting and handling them.
I’m fortunate too, all of my girls and my rooster enjoy being petted. All in slightly different ways and places, but they’re all super friendly and appreciate fussing.
If you need any convincing - or if you just want to see a cute video of a rooster being pet - check out this video:
Do Chickens Purr When They're Happy?
Another thing about chickens that surprises a lot of people is that some will actually purr when they’re being pet!
Admittedly, it’s not exactly the same as a cat’s purr. It’s more of a trilling noise, but it’s a sound that some chickens will make to show they’re happy and content being petted by you.
Chickens actually have a wide range of noises they use to communicate with people. You can read more about the noises chickens make here.
If you have backyard chickens, get out there and give them some petting. Most chickens love being pet, stroked, and some even like a little leg massage!
Just remember to always approach chickens carefully, pay attention to what they do and don’t like, and always be gentle.
The Mood-Boosting Power of Pets - HelpGuide.com