Chickens, Rabbits, Ducks, Guinea Pigs & Quail – The best 5 pets you can keep in your garden
Do you have a family with young kids (or even the bigger, more adult kids) that have been putting the pressure on to get a little puppy or kitten but you just don’t fancy the hassle and massive commitment of these pets. Why not look into getting a pet (or pets) that you can keep in your garden, yes they still need care and attention but not quite as much as your standard house pet. Plus if you keep them in your garden you are able to save the space in your house and it will help get your kids outside in the fresh air.
So chickens may be the first pet you think of when imagining garden animals, that’s for good reason. Chickens make fantastic pets when looked after correctly by their owners. They have so many positives, they are quiet pets (as long as you don’t get a cockerel), they help maintain your garden from pests, and they lay eggs regularly to name just a few. You just need enough space in your garden for a coop and run, alternatively, you can just get the coop for them to sleep in overnight if you have a garden with fences high enough. If you just have a flock of hens then you will never go hungry for a lovely egg for breakfast, nothing tastes better than food you have had a hand in preparing. If you decide to get a cockerel then they can fertilise the hens so will then have the choice, you can either use the eggs as normal and eat them or you can decide to incubate the egg and raise some baby chicks. You can either grow your flock or you can sell the chicks to friends and family or even the local farmer for a small profit.
Rabbits are a fantastic family pet, or that should be pets as rabbits do prefer to have the company of other rabbits. They are very social pets, once you get to know your rabbits they will act in a similar way to a dog. For example, in the morning they will eagerly follow you about waiting for their breakfast and they will be waiting for you when you get home. Again for dinner, but also for the social aspect, they love to be handled with care and form a close bond with their owners and for the working professional they are fantastic as they are crepuscular (more active at dawn and dusk) so will be happy to be left for the day. Other benefits of owning a rabbit are that as long you introduce them early in their life they are more than happy to love with cats or dogs, rabbits are also a very quiet pet so you will never have to be worried about being woken up at the weekend.
It's up for debate but some people feel that ducks are better garden companions than their poultry cousins the chicken. They will require a coop/hutch to sleep in and protect them at night from predators, it is also a nice idea to purchase a small paddling pool so they have some water to swim in and have a little fun. Once you have this basic set up though they can take care of themselves, they do enjoy a bit of interaction with humans but they are also more than happy to just be in the company of other ducks (which you will most likely have). Ducks lay eggs just like chickens, generally, they would not lay quite as many but the eggs have a larger and much richer yolk so the taste is known to be a ramped up version of a chicken egg. This along with the fact the eggs are normally larger makes them a lovely treat for that weekend breakfast for the family. Another benefit of ducks is they will help keep the garden free of bugs, slugs and other high-protein critters that will be hanging around your garden which helps with the taste of the eggs.
Guinea pigs are a great pet for someone that has some spare time on their hands, they do take more time and care than the other pets on our list as you will need to clean out their hutch on a daily basis and they do enjoy some grooming and social interaction. If you get a guinea pig from a pup and you handle them gently with care and interact with them then they will end up being friendly, this along with the fact that they are very inquisitive and intelligent animals makes them an ideal pet to help you teach your young kids about responsibility. Guinea pigs do love some company though, so it is preferable to get a pair, they can be the same sex or opposite. If you do get a male and female then it is advised to get the male neutered to ensure you don’t end up with loads of unwanted pups.
Last but most definitely not least, quails. They really are an underrated pet, quails are nice and small so you can either have more of them or have a small number that takes up a very small space in your garden. This makes them ideal if you don’t think you have quite enough space for chickens or ducks but still, want to experience looking after some species of fowl. There are many different breeds of quail but some of the most common are the Coturnix and the Bobwhite. Like chickens, quails lay eggs, up to 200+ a year, that can be eaten or if incubated raised into quail chicks. Quail eggs are very small in comparison to a duck or chickens egg but they are packed with nutrients which have many health benefits. In certain places around the world, quail eggs are sold as inexpensive street food on skewers and the like, but there are some places that also regard quail eggs as a delicacy. Either way, if you decide to look after a flock of quails then you will have the opportunity to try out these rare but extremely tasty eggs.
Whatever garden pet you decide to choose, a feathery friend or a fluffy cute companion, you will need to ensure you have all the correct equipment to look after them. This ranges from the correct chicken coops or poultry houses to a lovely little rabbit hutch, these can be found online and are delivered all year round. Make sure you also get the right feed and really put some thought into which pet may be best for you as all these fantastic pets live for a long time, that just means years of happiness to come once you do finally decide.