It's often quite hard to come up with the ideal family pet -- dogs are a lot of work, cats have a tendency to get run over, hamsters are nocturnal.
But there is one that are great fun, good with children and have the added benefit of recycling your kitchen waste and swapping it for a fresh egg every day.
Yes, hens make ideal family pets. Here's our guide to adding a couple to your garden.There is nothing like eating a fresh egg you've just collected from your hen house at the bottom of the garden, they really do look and taste different. Just remember to tell the children about the whole process – we didn't and had an inconsolable five-year-old on our hands when we went to cook the first ever egg.
First thing to think about is what type of hen you'd like. A lot of people choose based on looks and, dare I say it, the colour of the eggs but I think the size of your garden is a good guide to what you should go for.
Bantams are smaller (and will produce smaller poo, something to consider) but you will get smaller and fewer eggs. The best ones for children appear to be Eglu to the more traditional wooden houses.
Getting children to feed the hens kitchen scraps and allowing them to collect the eggs are great ways for them to get to know each other. You can buy one day old chicks which means they will grow up tame and used to your children but you'll need somewhere to keep them inside, chick crumb food and a heat lamp to mimic the heat from their mother.
Otherwise point of lay hens are best and can become friendly, especially if you offer them treats by hand and teach children the correct way to hold them. Mine used to love taking their pet chickens down the slide which they seemed to enjoy and one liked coming into the kitchen.
Hens really do make fabulous, fun pets which are simple to keep and entertaining. In fact, I think I may be ready to replace ours...