Ever thought about the benefits of having your own backyard chickens? You get fresh, free-range — if you let your chickens roam, of course! — eggs on a consistent basis. Nothing beats the feeling of waking up to the lazily morning sun and meandering outside to collect the new eggs.
Many of us dream of the time we can live like that, cherishing the chance to be a little more self-sufficient like our forefathers.
Yet, like most everything in life, owning chickens isn’t all clean, perfect eggs and sunny days. These birds do take work. They need to be fed and watered to survive. They need fresh air and green grass to thrive.
Even though there is work involved, caring for your backyard birds is still worth it. Ponder these next few questions to see if owning chickens is right for you!
Are you allowed to have chickens where you live?
Check with the local authorities to see if your township welcomes feathery friends before buying your flock. You never know unless you ask, and you may be surprised by their answer.
Is your yard big enough?
Healthy chickens thrive on grass and the great outdoors. The more yard to feed from, the stronger and happier your chickens will be. They require a coop where they can nest and be protected but also enjoy an enclosed space to run outside..
There is no magic number when it comes to a chicken equation. As a general rule, however, it is good to have 2-3 square feet of coop/run space for each free-range chicken. If roaming chickens in your backyard isn’t an option, the number jumps to around 10 square feet of coop/run space per chicken.
You may be wondering that if you do let your chickens roam free in your enclosed backyard, how do you get them back into their coop? Chickens were created with an internal instinct that draws them back to the coop where they feel safe, protected and can roost for the night. So, no wild goose chases for you.
Do you have enough patience to care for chickens?
As the saying goes, patience is a virtue, and caring for chickens does take patience. While these creatures are relatively easy to care for, you can’t expect “instant” eggs. The chickens will take their sweet time laying eggs and the amount may vary day to day, and with the seasons. A young, healthy chicken will typically lay an egg every 24-48 hours.
Are you willing to put in the money and effort to care for these chickens?
Besides paying for feed, your little friends are going to need your keen eye to keep them safe from predators like hungry hawks. Make sure your yard is safe from predators by talking with neighbors who have chickens or other local farmers. Your chickens may need to stay in their coop during the predator’s meal time.
When it comes to determining the amount of feed needed, it will depend on the resources available to the chickens like if you have a spacious backyard for chickens to graze. Chickens eat “like birds;” they tend to eat smaller portions and often.
Do you have an extra 20 minutes a day to spare?
Like any pet, these chicken are depending on you for survival — food, water, a shelter is all provided from none other than you. Just keep in mind that the reward — fresh range-free eggs — isn’t the adorable sloppy puppy kiss or fuzzy paw to hold.
How disgusted by mud and manure are you?
Don’t be fooled by the lovely, clean eggs you find at the grocery store. The natural life of a chicken is far from pristine and clean. You will need to clean the eggs before bringing them inside to your kitchen.
Are you prepared to clean their chicken coop?
An unfortunate yet very necessary part of owning a chicken is cleaning out their little home. Yet a clean chicken coop will make for cleaner eggs and happier chickens!
How many eggs do you typically consume?
At first, it is best to buy less chickens than you may think. With a smaller flock, you can take your time learning to provide quality care for them. Besides, you can always add more to your flock! On average, chickens tend to lay an egg or two every day, depending on the breed and living environment.
So, here is the biggest questions of all: Are you ready for backyard chickens?
Even if right now isn’t the best time for you, it’s always good to educate yourself about the responsibilities of caring for these feathery creatures. They take work, time and effort but the outcome is just as great: free-range, fresh eggs on a frequent basis!
Some information gathered from The Happy Chicken Coop blog.