In the last few years there has been a steady rise in chicken keeping, even in the midst of the suburbs.
It’s suddenly cool to be involved in the experience of chickens. again.
Some people keep them for pets, others for eggs, and others to educate themselves and their children about what is involved in the life of a chicken.
For some, it is a way to connect themselves with their own food chain, so long hidden by big supermarkets.
But what do you need to know before you go out and get your first chicken? How can you be prepared? Well, why not start with these six things.
The first thing that you need to know about getting chickens is that not every house is suited for them. You have to have a certain amount of space to keep chickens comfortably, the truth is that not every house provide that.
So, before you even think about it, take a long look at your space. Opinions vary on how much space is needed, as obviously chickens will love having lots of room to move. One to two square meters per hen is the minimum, but remember you can build up to provide that.
Another thing to think about with your own space is the threats to your chickens, and how you’re going to protect them. Chickens are not exactly great at self-defence, and your space shouldn’t be at risk from predators that will stress, or kill, your birds. There are ways to protect against all of them, but the level of effort might be higher, and it’s worth thinking about up front.
It might come as a surprise, but not everyone wants to live next to someone who has chickens. They aren’t the noisiest beasts (most neighbourhood dogs bark louder), but it’s not always something your neighbours are happy with. Due to these kind of neighbourhood disputes, in some areas it’s against the law to have backyard chickens.
So, before you go out and buy your first chicken, you’ll need to have a chat to your neighbours, and to your local council.
Make sure there aren’t any legal issues with the chickens, and talk honestly with your neighbours about how little an impact they’ll have on them.
Having chickens may provide you with free eggs, but that does not mean they’re necessarily a low cost option. From housing them to feeding them, as well as keeping them healthy and entertained, chickens can eat up a massive part of any household budget. The key thing to think about before you start your journey is how much you want to spend. You know that you’re going to be spending, but setting a clear budget is a must before you get started. It’s going to be what guides you in choosing the style of your chicken coops, the breeds you get, and the number of birds you can maintain.
Everybody has a different idea about what they want from their chickens, and that has an effect on the way you choose to house them. There are a few different options when it comes to housing chickens, from temporary coops that can be moved, to more permanent houses that may require more detailed planning and construction. The style of housing you get will also depend on the space you have available. It’s important to think about this as the type of housing you use may have an impact on the way you keep your chickens, how much time they take up (with cleaning etc) and how many you’ll be able to keep.
One of the best parts about keeping chickens is shopping around for different chicken breeds. It’s only at this point that most people realise just how many different breeds they are, and how gorgeous these breeds can be. But it’s so important to understand in-depth what you’re signing up for with each breed. Many of the more pedigree breeds have specialised needs, and if you don’t do your research you’ll be left with sick (or dead) birds. For example, Black Spanish chickens might looks pretty, but they are a very particular breed, and if they’re not properly entertained in their coop they often die of boredom. Many people opt initially for ISA Brown chickens, a common breed that lays well and is easy to look after.
Chickens take up just as much time as dogs, so before you go out and get yourself a flock you need to think about just how much time you have available to care for them. Chickens need entertainment, especially if they’re in a hen house instead of being free range. Entertaining them is often as easy as feeding them small amounts regularly, but if you can’t do that you can also provide them something to scratch through and search for (like worms or crickets in the grass). Having chickens also means that you’ll spend time cleaning their coop on a pretty regular basis. This is essential for their good health, and it can easily take up a lot of time. On top of that, many people don’t feel comfortable caring for chickens, so if you travel regularly and don’t have anyone to care for them it might not work out.
Keeping chickens can be an entertaining and rewarding hobby, but it isn’t something to do on a whim. A decision to become a chicken keeper requires a bit of thought and some planning. Hopefully, this article has helped you figure out if you’ve got what it takes to become a chicken keeper!
Do you have chickens now?