Gone are the days when chickens were only kept for their eggs and meat. Nowadays, people take a liking for chickens because of their domestic appeal, and many would even claim that they get a sense of kinship with their poultry, that same kinship people get from common pets such as cats and dogs.
But before you entertain the idea of keeping chickens as pets, you have to check the local zoning laws in your area for the simple fact that some counties prohibit the housing of "farm animals". Once you're able to verify this, the one thing left to do is to pick the particular breed of the chickens you want to have as your constant feathery companions.
You will need to have extensive knowledge of which breeds are most suitable to your preference. A bit of visual appeal can also go a long way into sparking and maintaining interest. A chicken can have a variety of colors and styles to choose from - red, gold, brown, spotted, dappled, high-tailed, bushy tailed, feather-legged, the list goes on. Be very nit-picky, for it's your sole responsibility to ensure that your chickens are not only well fed, but also nurtured and yes, loved. Why keep a pet in the first place if you're not going to shower it with attention?
If there are kids always hanging around the chicken coop, it might be advisable to choose the smaller breed, or in poultry talk - bantam chickens. That way, kids won't be afraid of them, and will be drawn to them as much as they do to small pets like rabbits and cats. It goes without saying that you need to pick one that is young, more preferably a one-day old chick. This gives the bird ample time to get domesticated and get used to being handled by people. The birds won't "fly the coop" and be predisposed to hurt anyone every time people get close to them.
In that parlance, hens make better pets than cockerels since they are more docile in nature. The fact that hens are capable of providing you a steady supply of eggs without the requirement of fertilization only fuels that premise. Sexing the chicken is not as easy as it looks, so you are better off asking the help of a “chick sexer” if you're not well trained to do it on your own.
Pet chickens naturally have to be free-range. They love to have enough space to walk around with, so make sure there's enough of it. Perches also need to be set up since it is hardwired into a chicken's instincts to roost and sleep on an elevated surface. Also make it a point to scatter some dirt into the ground since they love to dig and scratch with their feet.
Feeding your chickens occasionally with special treats (worms, fish, table leftovers, etc.) in the palm of your hand can also help tame them as they grow. In this manner, they associate you as a source of food and will always cluck in anticipation every time they see you.