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Bird 101

5 Questions to Ask Before Getting Chickens

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There is a lot of interest in urban chicken coops these days. It’s little wonder as the cost of “human food” continues to skyrocket. Chickens can be a huge benefit to you and your family, even if you have no plans to eat them.

First of all, they provide fresh, organic eggs. It’s recommended that you  They even provide natural pest control, and can help rid a garden of parasites (including ticks). They even make great pets and are not only affectionate, but quite intelligent.

Not only that, they are hilarious to watch each day. Chickens each have their own personalities and watching these birds get into things that they’re usually not supposed to get into, explore the yard and pens, and just watching the ways they interact with one another can keep you entertained for hours. 

5 Questions to Ask Before Getting Chickens

But, before you jump into chicken-keeping full-time, ask yourself these five questions…

1. Am I legally allowed to keep chickens and if so, what kind?

If you’re in or near the city, you will most likely be subject to restrictions on keeping chickens. There are local restrictions, as well as homeowner restrictions, that you must follow or risk losing your home.

The first thing you should check is your local government. Certain cities prohibit chicken keeping on any level, others allow a certain number of chickens, and some have no laws against chickens at all.

If you’re in a housing development, you probably have a homeowners association. Many homeowners associations (HOAs) absolutely prohibit chickens as pets, some restrict different breeds, and still others require that you have no roosters. Contact your HOA and find out what type of restrictions they have in place (if any).

While you’re not required to do so, it’s often a good idea to check in with your neighbors and tell them you’re plans. It’s just a nice, neighborly thing to do. Who knows? You may need their help in caring for your chickens one day, so it’s best to get off on their good side.

2.What is my schedule like?

If you’re getting chickens because they seem like they would be easy keepers, you would be wrong. Chickens require daily care, lots of supplies (like a coop,a fenced area, and ongoing medical care). This is particularly true if you’re relying on them for a steady supply of eggs.

Here are the minimum basic chores you’ll be taking on if you care for chickens:

  • Check twice a day
  • Feed twice a day
  • Water twice a day
  • Cleaning each day
  • Secure/lock down each night (which usually involves rounding them up)

You’ll also have to work in time to do individual chicken checks for health problems, tons of coop repair (especially if you live in an area with predators) and frequent water changes.

3. Do I have room for chickens? How many do I need?

Before you run out and buy chicks, it’s important to know how much space they will require and what your own personal requirements are for eggs.

Chickens don’t ask for a whole lot – they need a decent, warm coop, a place to walk around and flap their wings, and a safe place to hang out. You may want to consider either a kennel-type run or a large garden. In either case, you probably won’t want more than 2-3 chickens in one area and you’ll want to be very careful in choosing the breed.

How many chickens will we need?
The number of chickens you will want depends entirely on your family. Most healthy hens lay about 250-300 eggs per year. That means a family of four will require 4-6 hens for their basic needs. But a family of two will only need 2-3 hens. The number of chickens you will want depends entirely on your family.

Ultimately, you’re the one who can determine the best number of chickens for your home.  If you have dogs, cats, horses, or other pets – you’ll need to make sure your chickens have their very own area. On top of this, extra reinforcements may be required depending on where you live.

If you have dogs, cats, horses, or other pets – you[ll need to make sure your chickens have their very own area. On top of this, extra reinforcements may be required depending on where you live.

If you live in an area with foxes, you’ll need to do some serious reinforcement. The same holds true for areas with feral cats, cougars, bobcats, wolves, and especially coyotes.

Unfortunately, almost every carnivore likes chicken!

4. Can I afford chickens?

Start up costs for chicken keeping vary. Beyond the initial cost of your chickens (which can range from pennies to hundreds or even thousands of dollars), chickens have a lot of requirements. These can include:

Basic Necessities: 

And don’t forget your daily maintenance and time devoted to caring for these chickens.

Daily Costs:

5. Have I researched enough about keeping chickens?

If you don’t know the main characteristics each breed, what types of eggs they lay, the “quirks” of the breed you’re looking at, or what they eat – you haven’t done enough research.

Spend some quality time researching various types of hens and their needs. Each breed has different requirements and each lay different types of eggs. Some are easier keepers than others.

In the end, you should know enough about the breed that will best fit you and your family’s needs to keep them healthy and happy for years to come.

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