Raising your own backyard chickens is a fun and centuries-old tradition, which means you’d be taking up a tried and tested activity if you decide to make it part of your life. But before you do so, it’s equally important to understand how to do it in the proper manner without breaking your bank!
Why Raising Chickens Is Important
The benefits of keeping hens in your backyard are numerous. The eggs are a big temptation because they are more flavourful, fresher, and better for baking than any store-bought eggs. The shells and poultry waste can be put directly into the compost pile.
The birds spend a large portion of the day amusing themselves by picking at the grass, worms, beetles, and other tasty farm egg-making ingredients. In addition, hens are excellent gardening companions due to their sense of insect invaders. But keep in mind: Nothing worthwhile comes easy!
Considerations to Make Before Buying Chickens
To find out whether keeping chickens is even permitted in your neighbourhood, or whether there is a restriction to the number of hens you can keep at one time, check your local municipal ordinances first and foremost.
I’m sure you want to do an eggcellent job caring for your feathered friends and that’s why you want to be as prepared as possible. There are numerous factors to consider when becoming a chicken parent, ranging from health to shelter. Many chicken keepers struggle with chicken health and behaviour difficulties, particularly in the first few years of owning a flock, so keep the following aspects in mind:
Check that you have enough room for a henhouse or a full-size chicken coop. For every three hens, it must have food and water containers, a roosting place, and a nest box. Instead of a simple and small henhouse, you should buy chicken coop spacious enough that you can stand comfortably in it to gather eggs and shovel manure. Furthermore, any housing must be strong enough to keep your chickens safe from predators!
Chickens require food (and water) regularly, and that is not cheap. However, how much a bag of food lasts depends on the number of chickens you have.
Hens will lay eggs throughout the spring, summer, and fall if they get 12 to 14 hours of daylight. Expect to collect eggs every day, if not twice a day. Last but not least, you’ll have to shovel dung all year. If you go on vacation, you’ll need a dependable chicken-sitter—who can be as scarce as hens’ teeth!
How Many Chickens Should I Keep?
Because chickens are social creatures, keep three to six birds. And since an adult hen lays two eggs every three days on average, you’ll always have a consistent supply of eggs with this amount.
Chickens are most productive during their first two years of life; after that, egg production slows, therefore you’ll need to consider replacing your flock with younger birds.
How Much Space Do Chickens Need?
When you decide to buy chicken coop the specific design and size come down to the breed of chicken you’re rearing. There should always be enough area for chickens to exercise, spread their wings, and behave normally.
Roughly 12 square metres should be plenty for 30 chickens, though this depends on the size and quantity of chickens, as well as the layout of the home. The more space the chickens have, the happier and healthier they will be. Have in mind overcrowding adds to sickness and feather picking.
The birds will require space to extend their wings, such as a large chicken run or a whole backyard. In either case, the area must be gated to keep the hens in and predators out, such as your neighbour’s cat or dog. That is why, in addition to your chicken coop, you should have chicken-wire fencing on hand.
How Much Does Keeping Chickens Cost?
While prices vary, you may normally spend up to $25 per month on feed. This can be supplemented by feeding your chooks food leftovers and allowing them to forage for grubs, grasses, and seeds in your garden. Bedding prices vary as well, but if you shop, you can select materials that will last longer and without emptying your pocket! After the initial investment, chickens can be relatively low upkeep.
Gardening with Chickens
Most people maintain chickens for a steady supply of fresh eggs, but did you know that keeping hens can also be good for the garden? When the gardening season is over for the year, let the hens loose in your garden and watch them go crazy! They’ll eat any broken or overripe vegetables and uproot the stems and stalks of weeds.
They will consume any weed seeds or insects found in the soil, as well as peck apart and digest vegetable remains, particularly broccoli stems, carrot tops, chard, and kale. Then, with boundless energy and interest, they’ll scratch the ground and peck out buried worms or insects, mixing up the soil in the process.
Consider the Climate
While lovely eggs are fun to collect, the climate in which you live should be your first concern when selecting a breed of chicken. Although most hens do well in cold climes, several breeds struggle in hot weather.
Phoenix and Minorca hens, for example, enjoy the heat, but Brahma and Chantecler birds prefer cool temperatures. If you live in a region that is hot and humid for most of the year, selecting heat-tolerant breeds is critical. Mediterranean breeds including Andalusians, Leghorns, and Penedesencas are excellent selections.
In high heat, their petite, slender bodies and big combs help them stay cool. If you reside in a cold region, a larger-bodied chicken with a smaller comb will do better. Australorps, Barred Rocks, Buff Orpingtons, Cochins, and Wyandottes are all viable options.