Raising backyard chickens is an easy and affordable way to add eggs and meat to your food supply. Just six chickens can provide over 2 dozen eggs a week! And that’s not the only benefit. Chickens keep bugs and weeds in check, their manure makes great fertilizer for your garden, and they’re fun to take care of. But before you run out and buy a bunch of chicks, there are a few things you need to know.
First, you need to make sure it’s legal in your area. Check out the local chicken laws and ordinances in your city. If you’re part of a homeowner’s association, be sure to check with them. And please check with your neighbors, too (it helps if you offer them free eggs). I don’t recommend getting roosters unless your neighbors are okay with it or at least far enough away that they can’t hear them. Fail to do these things and you’ll have some major headaches down the road.
You don’t need a very large backyard, but you do need a chicken coop. The question is whether you should buy one or build one. There are all sorts of chicken coops online. They come in several pieces but are easy to assemble. The other option is to build your own chicken coop. There are plenty of free guides out there, but they can be difficult to understand, especially if you don’t have much experience building things.
Once you have your chicken coop set up, it’s time to get some chickens. The best time to buy chicks is in the spring (from February to June). But before you buy any, study this chart which describes the many breeds of chicken.
If you’re new to all this, you’re better off finding a local farmer with some full-grown chickens to sell. That way you won’t have to worry about raising chicks properly, and you’ll know you’re getting chickens that will do well in your climate and environment. You’ll also be able to ask the farmer for tips and how much to feed them.
One final bonus of having backyard chickens: they’re great for kids! Feeding chickens and gathering eggs is a great way to introduce children to farming and prepping in general. It’s important that children feel like they’re contributing to the household and doing their share. This will be critical if there’s a disaster scenario and you really need their help.
If you’re really interested in owning chickens and want to learn more, BackyardChickens.com is the first site you should visit. It has over 100 articles, dozens of reviews, and a forum where you can get advice from people with more experience. If you’d rather read a book, check out these selections on Amazon.com.