House Chickens

I wish this were an April Fools joke. But it’s not.

Tori Spelling is one of those Hollywood people who resort to reality TV to maintain some semblance of fame. She claims to love animals. She says that she wants to bring the farm life to Hollywood. She has four hens in an outdoor coop and this Silkie is her house chicken. Silkies are sweet, placid, docile birds. I’m sure that this little hen doesn’t complain. But, I’m also sure that the chicken’s needs are not being met. Just like toy dogs that are used as fashion accessories and are babied in ways that are truly abusive, I’ve no doubt that this chicken isn’t getting the basics. Most important for chickens is to be in a stable flock of hens. This Silkie is kept apart. Also necessary is to have dust baths and be able to scratch in the ground. This hen is kept on hard floors. Chickens need to roost. This bird sleeps on a dog bed.

The photo was taken of Tori as she carried her chicken to an event at her boutique. It was staged for the paparazzi. Tori’s publicists were successful. The photo made it onto the nightly news and in People. I hope Tori had food and water waiting in the store for the hen. Silkies overheat easily. I know that Tori isn’t thinking of her animals because she also has a pet Nigerian Dwarf Goat. Just one. Goats should always have another goat companion. Tori’s goat is also kept as a house pet. Although he is (supposedly) trained to “pee-pee” outside, he leaves goat berries everywhere in the house. Tori Spelling has a toddler. Children should not be living with animal feces in the home.

I wish this were a Hollywood phenomena, but in the April-May issue of Mary Janes Farm, “The Everyday Organic Lifestyle Magazine” is an article about how to keep chickens as house-pets. They recommend that the hens wear diapers, which I am adamantly opposed to. Chickens should not have cloth surrounding half of their body. They should not have their nitrogenous poo held close to their bottoms. The magazine does say that the diaper has to be cleaned every 2 to 3 hours. Really? You’re going to be home, doing that? In the article was also a photo of two large hens living in a baby crib. Chickens should have a minimum of four square feet per hen. This was nowhere near adequate or appropriate. Nor was there bedding to scratch in, nor a nesting box, nor a dust bathing area. I was alerted to this by my friend, Trish Riker, in Michigan. Trish knows animals. She has sheep and chickens, and is a 4-H leader. Trish wrote a letter to Mary Janes Farm. I couldn’t say it better myself, and so, with permission, I am quoting her here:

Dear Mary Jane’s Farm,

I was initially excited to see that the April-May 2011 issue had an article on pet chickens. I was shocked however to see the piece on “house-pet hens”. It is true that chickens are the oldest domesticated animals and do make great pets, but I am 100% sure that their history does not include baby cribs, diapers and toenail polish. I found this article offensive and bordering on abuse. Chickens are meant to scratch in the dirt, poop freely and have other chicken friends as they are flock animals. Too many people confuse babying with love. I love my chickens, therefore I allow them to be chickens, not my spoiled children fulfilling some empty need.

In closing I think this article offends the real farm girls and if this kind of work continues to show up in your magazine I will not be renewing my subscription.

Thank you,Trish, for speaking up.


  1. So true! I think its terrible to be toting around a farm animal, certainly dogs and cats are more suited to an indoor home as they love people. I love my chickens but realize they dont want to be inside with me, they want to “roam free” and scratch around looking for goodies. Of course I never cared for the celeb pet fad anyway, even when it was just dogs. My dogs much prefer to stay home than be subjected to being handled by strangers all day.

  2. Well said Trish and Terry – I’ll add a ‘Hear, hear!’

    And I sincerely home this stupidity doesn’t spread – it’s wrong!

    Feel myself getting all angry now – will have to walk with my flock down to the Wild Wood for a scratch about in the leaf litter.


  3. And I bet that poor silkie will be tossed into the coop with the others to be pecked (and to be cared for by the grounds keeper) when it no longer serves Tori’s purposes.
    I can’t imagine keeping chickens or a goat for that matter in the house. I had to house my 4 bantam chicks and Ebay (my OEG broody hen) in the basement for a few days while I constucted their enclosure and the smell was bad and I cleaned it twice a day.

  4. I had no idea. This is terrible. I already feel bad that my girls don’t have even more room than my good sized yard, let alone confining that much.

  5. I saw this photo on the internet the other day and I gave it an eye-roll. I didn’t think much beyond that. However, you make some very good points and I wholeheartedly agree with you.

  6. I too saw this the other day and I was and still am appalled. I know she did not read up and get ready for the “farm” animals she has. If she did she would know what she is doing is wrong. It is like the Sesame Street song “One of these things is not like the others;
    One of these things just doesn’t belong….” It is just so wrong for health reasons alone. Thank you for posting this. I hope she reads!!

  7. It helps to hear that everyone is outraged as I am. I went to bed fuming and I woke up and went on line and realized it was worse than I’d imagined.
    Jude- love that Sesame Street song and now it’s in my head with images of chickens in diapers! :)

  8. I saw this also and thought “WTF” Poor thing. And I don’t mean Tori. I also watched Vera Wang the other night on Chelsea Handler’s show, and she was talking about her little dogs and how they just poop all over her house and she’s just given up on it, because “…they’ve had trainers and nothing ever works…” I thought of you, Terry and how well Lily is trained. I have a feeling that Vera really isn’t giving it the ‘ol college try, don’t you. I have a rescue Chihuahua mix pup and she is very well behaved. I had read somewhere that Chi’s can’t be house trained. Poppycockk! Treating animals correctly doesn’t mean treating them like humans or babies. OK…I’ll get off the soapbox now.

    • Please stay on the soapbox! I could go on and on about how dog owners use their dogs for their own emotional needs, and nothing of what the dogs need. The dogs don’t need that twisted type of “love.” They need activity, challenge, consistency and kindness! Did you see me on It’s Me or the Dog (Victoria Stillwell’s show on Animal Planet)? The dog owners also had a dog that pooped everywhere. All it took was taking it outside on a regular basis. (That segment will eventually be on repeats. It’s “The Castle Goes to the Dogs.”)

  9. I, too, would love to have adorable bunnies, chicks, ducklings, goats etc. The temptation is great for animal lovers, but for God’s sake, if you “Love” animals do what’s best for them. Put their health, and well being before your emotional needs. How many of these poor animals end up in some shelter when they become more trouble than they are worth to these selfish people? I had thought about subscribing to Mary Jane’s magazine, but now I will not. Thanks Terri. Michele

  10. Stupid people do stupid things out of ignorance. There’s hope with education, if only they’ll listen.

    • My lovely hen laid the hugest egg to date! I just came in form the coop- I can’t believe how big it is! I logged on to share and could not believe my eyes! What is wrong with people??? People like that are pathetic, they don’t have a clue! They should all be dropped on an island somewhere, with out any animals….

  11. So strange. I just bought 9 chickies – including 3 silkies – and I am excited for the day it will be warm enough for them to live outside.

  12. poor chicken :( I know that I wanted a house chicken, but now I know it is WRONG to keep them as house pets :(

    • Kelly – good for you to learn what you can before getting your chickens! I know you are going to have the best time with your backyard flock!

  13. I read this article in Mary Jane’s magazine and was totally confused. What was she thinking? It made me question how “close to nature” she really is!

  14. I was so saddened to read this. Hopefully the animals right activists will see this. When you know better you do better, and she obviously doesn’t know any better and hasn’t bothered to do any research. Stupidity though is never an excuse. Someone needs to let her know that this wrong.

  15. While I am pleased with the amount of GOOD information being written these days about keeping hens, I am often concerned that all the fuss is setting us up for the “101 Dalmations” phenom and there will be a lot of abandoned chickens in the near future. Thank you for continuing to educate and support sane, logical chicken ownership!!

  16. I’m very sad about this. This girl should be reprimanded.

  17. I also read that article in Mary Jane’s magazine and thought those chickens will just poo out of that crib and all over the bed and floor!!

    • I did notice how clean the floor was. Then I noticed no bedding in the crib! Perhaps it was an April Fools joke and I didn’t know it?

  18. “Chickens should not have cloth surrounding half of their body. They should not have their nitrogenous poo held close to their bottoms.”

    You’re showing your ignorance here… chicken diapers do not surround anywhere near half their bodies, they’re almost not there… and they are designed to hold the feces away from the body.

    I do appreciate your care for animals, especially in relationship to mistakes someone like Tori may be making since a celebrity’s actions can influence others to behave similarly.

    • Hi Josh- sorry, but I don’t think the diapers are “almost not there.” And are you saying that the poo drops out of the chickens, doesn’t touch their feathers or skin and is enclosed in an ammonia-proof pouch? Even when the chicken is sitting? And that you clean out the diaper after each poo? The ultimate question is why put the chicken in a situation where the human thinks a diaper is necessary?

      • I absolutely agree with you! I have that issue of Mary Jane’s Farm, and as much as I like it in generally, that article was appalling!! I feel sorry for whatever animal is kept that way. Also the photos in the article make it look as if the diaper covers a good portion of the chicken.

        • Thanks, Angie. I received a note back from Mary Jane’s. They defended the article and said this, ” What MaryJane wanted to teach in this article is a method to raise a healthy and happy chicken when you don’t have the extra space that others enjoy.” Which missed entirely that an only chicken, indoors, is neither healthy nor happy. Just because a person wants to keep an animal doesn’t mean they should.

  19. Just saw a piece on the CBS Sunday morning on a HOUSE DEER that is kept indoors and even has it’s own bedroom. The whole program was dedicated to pets and most of the stories we right on, but a house deer?

  20. First of all chicken poop STINKS, In a diaper or not. No matter the type of chicken. I can only say NO one will carry a chiken poop anything anywhere long term. We have many different types of chickens but the most loved is the silkie. These birds are a very different breed. They do NOT roost. With the type of feather they have they can not fly. Silkies sleep on the floor they do not roost. Because of their top crest they can not see well either. Silkies need special runs to prevent being swoop away by hawks. Not everyone can handle chickens I agree. However chickens are and should come into the spot light right now. If people can cage birds in the city in small cages why cant we have a chicken in a coop twice that size outside ?

    • I had Silkies that roosted and I could tell when they got sick by how they stayed on the floor. Other Silkie owners want to chime in?

  21. I agree with Beth, why can’t chickens be kept indoors when other birds are kept indoors? So, they are larger birds. They eat more, they get a bigger cage and maybe walked regularly? Maybe they meet up with a little hen playgroup?

    People get so crazy over animals. We treat our animals better than some humans. Talk to me about this poor silkie when our elderly are properly taken care of, when there is no need for welfare, when our parolees come out rehabilitated. When mothers in Haiti stop feeding their children mud pies. Until then, I see no problem with spoiling a hen with her own indoor palace. Worry about something that’s worth worrying about.

    • Nichelle- walking a chicken and a playgroup does nothing to give a chicken appropriate and healthy care. I’d turn your question on it’s head and ask why do people need to keep animals indoors and baby them in ways that isn’t good for the animals they profess to love?