Backyard Chickens: What You’ll Need to Know Before Getting Yours

By on April 12, 2013

There is no denying that many people are raising their awareness of the environment. As a result organic and sustainable approaches for food have become a major focus. One area that has bloomed in appreciation is keeping backyard chickens.

Your backyard chickens can provide an excellent source of protein in both the eggs they lay and the meat that can be harvested (though most urban self sufficiency enthusiasts just go for the eggs). In addition to the nutritional values of these creatures, people are also finding they are easy to tend and generally cost effective.

Before you jump on the train and decide you also want to have chickens in your yard there are a few important things that you will have to take into consideration.

A Few Legal Issues You Should Be Aware Of for Chickens in Your Urban Backyard

Many regions prohibit backyard chickens, have limitations on the number of chickens, or prohibit gender. You must thoroughly research if there are any legal limitations in your area before setting up your flock. Also take into consideration if the introduction of chickens to your backyard will cause friction with your neighbours as these birds, both male and female, can be noisy at times. The general public often look at chickens as a nuisance and will protest their being in a neighbourhood.

If you find that you live in an area which permits backyard chickens, but will not permit roosters it is vital that you make alternative plans in the event you accidentally purchase a rooster. (Determining the sex of chickens is very difficult and it is not uncommon for individuals to end up with one or two males in a group which they believe to be all female).

There are a number of companies that you can purchase sex specific chickens from, however, there is never any guarantees. Roosters are not immediately recognizable, you will have to wait for them to mature before finding out the gender of the chick you purchase.

What You Need to Know About The Care of Your Backyard Chickens

  • It’s Time Intensive – You will quickly find that your flock requires regular attention. This necessity can be burdensome to individuals who enjoy regular travel. Vacations or other time away from your home will mean that you will have to have reliable outside care that will provide the attention your flock needs on a daily basis. The enclosure will require regular removal of the manure in their pen as well as cleaning the containers used for food and water. This is an important step in preventing disease from developing in your backyard flock.
  • Thinks About Protection for Your Chickens – Chickens are a prime target for predators. Both wild and domestic animals find backyard flocks to be too tempting to resist. Your chickens will become an easy source of food for cats and dogs as well as other natural predators in your area. Your family dog or cat may also become a threat to your chickens. Other birds can also present a unique problem. Wild and domestic birds can pass infection and parasites to your backyard flock. To avoid unwanted loss you will need to weigh your options. Most people prefer to either create a coop that incorporates an open range area that protects their chickens at all times, or allow them to range during the day and place them into the roost every night.
  • Chicken Housing for Backyards – Chickens require a variety of housing. Hens will need a hen house which provides them with areas to nest in order to lay their eggs. A roost, small house, is necessary to lock your chickens in every night to protect them from any predators. An open fenced location, also called a run, which permits them to walk about during the day, is also vital to their overall health. Keep in mind that these locations will also need spaces that enable them to get up off the ground level. Most people opt for an enclosure called a coop which incorporates all of these housing needs.

  • Temperature/Shelter Needs for Chickens – Chickens, like most birds, are very sensitive to changes in temperature. You will need to keep this in mind which developing the location you plan to keep your flock. You will need to provide a shaded area for sunny days, shelter from blowing winds, a roof to limit the intrusion of rain, and proximity to an outlet if you should need to provide an outside source of heat during extremely cold weather.
  • Chicken Health Care – Chickens are animals and like any other animal they have the potential of becoming sick or injured. You will need to make plans to provide the necessary veterinary treatment should something happen to your flock. Proper veterinary care can become expensive if your flock becomes ill and needs medical attention. If your attentions are to simply begin your backyard flock for the inexpensive source of eggs, you may need to more closely consider your plans.
  • Emotional Attachment – Chickens have their own personalities, just like any other family pet. If you have children, or other sensitive individuals, in your family you must take into consideration the strong possibility of emotional attachment developing. This can be especially difficult to address if you are planning on using part of your flock as a source of meat, but it is probably fine if you only use tem for eggs.
  • Chicken Nutrition – Chickens have a unique nutritional requirement that must be met for the best results in their health and the health of the eggs they lay. Poor nutrition will not only result in sickly animals that do not produce, but in egg shells that are too thin and break from the pressure of the hen on top of them. It is important to acquaint yourself with the nutritional needs of your flock to promote the best production.

This is a simple outline of considerations you should recognize before beginning your backyard chicken flock. If you decide that the care of these unique animals is still what you want to commit to, you will not be disappointed.

About KS Macie

One Comment

  1. Diane Ziomek

    April 13, 2013 at 1:28 am

    This is a great source of information. I grew up on a farm and we had chickens until I was about seven or eight. I can recall searching for eggs around the yard, as they were free range and would lay their eggs wherever they wanted to. When I am able to get my own, I will most likely use chicken tractors so they can eat the bugs and help my garden, yet the eggs will be easy to find. We are anticipating a move this summer, so I will not be purchasing chickens until 2014 (or not very many anyway).

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