Raising chickens has become a popular hobby and way of life for some people, even those in urban and suburban areas. There are plenty of reasons why people take up raising backyard chickens. Some do it for the supply of fresh eggs that are cruelty-free and organic. Others enjoy chickens because they can provide pest control around their gardens. By getting eggs from your own chickens, you can also avoid supporting the industrial farms that produce the bulk of eggs sold in the U.S. today. No matter why you want to get started raising backyard chickens, there are a few things you’ll want to consider before bringing chickens home.
Are Backyard Chickens Right for You?
Raising backyard chickens can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it is also a lot of hard work. Like most animals, chickens require care and attention year-round. Most of the day, you’ll find your chickens pecking at the grass and entertaining themselves. However, you will be responsible for giving your chickens fresh food and water daily. Expect to collect eggs up to twice a day. You’ll also need to clean the chicken coop regularly.
Choosing the Right Breed
There is no one right breed of chicken for everyone. If you have young children, you may want a friendlier and more docile breed, such as Speckled Sussex or Buff Orpington. If you are raising chickens for their eggs, Goldline, Black Australorp, or Golden Comet may be the best choice for you. These chickens can lay hundreds of eggs a year.
Where to Get Your Chickens
Before acquiring chickens, be sure to check the laws and ordinances in your area. Some locations will ban these animals due to their noise or limit the number you can keep. Most beginners who get chickens for the first time start with buying chicks. You may be able to find young chicks at a local feed store. You may also discover breeders in your area by searching online on classifieds sites and forums.
Housing and Your Chickens
Your climate and the space you have available will factor into how you house your chickens. Ideally, you’ll want to have a coop that is large enough to accommodate one bird per two square feet. Ultraviolet rays help to kill bacteria, so keep the coop partly in the sun and partly in the shade. Make the housing critter-proof by securing all openings and vents with wire mesh. You can also add artificial lighting to extend your chickens’ laying season.
Tips for Raising Your Chickens
It is important to do your research before bringing chickens home to ensure that you have a solid grasp of how to care for them. If possible, talk to someone in your area who has raised chickens to get a few pointers. Know that chickens are not always consistent layers, and they may take longer to lay depending on the season. You will also want to prepare yourself for the odor that accompanies the abundance of chicken waste. Materials like straw and diatomaceous earth can help keep bad odors to a minimum.