There are so many reasons to love chickens, but here are some of our favorites…
- Produce your own food
- Eggs that are fresh, great-tasting & nutritious (chicken is good too)
- Manufacture great garden fertilizer
- Fun & friendly pets with personality (yes, you read that right)
- Great way to use food scraps and weeds
- Easy and inexpensive to maintain compared to other animals
- Legal considerations- yes you are allowed to keep chickens some places say: four birds and no roosters. Some places say: no nuisance, smell, noise, etc.
- Getting Chickens is a Commitment. Consider the following…
- Feeding and watering has to happen every day, regardless of weather.
- When you’re away, the chickens stay. In other words, you must find a way to care for them when you travel.
- You have to provide weather protection for cold, rain, sun, etc.
- A fence or coop are needed to provide protection from predators.
- Perhaps sharing chickens with a neighbor can split responsibility?
- Chickens need a place for food and water, a perch to sleep on, a nest box, a place to scratch, shade, a place out of rain and wind, and protection from predators
- There are a zillion ways to build a chicken coop that fills all those needs, brand new, or using up-cycled materials.
- Chickens can stay in a coop all the time (cooped up), or they can be allowed out during the day. Some choices are safer than others.
- Feeding Facts
- Chicks need 4 to 6 mos. of feed and care until they begin laying.
- Chicken Feed- 50 lb bag cost about $18.
- A chick will eat roughly 9-12 lbs of feed in its first 3 months.
- A mature and active laying hen will need around 6 lbs of feed per month, and about 20% less if there is other food around like grass, weeds, or kitchen scraps.
- Breeds: there are many, many kinds of chickens available. white eggs, brown eggs, or colored eggs.
- Age: two choices- you can buy day old chicks or older hens.
- Chickens have relatively short life spans and even shorter time for egg producing – about 2 years. When chickens die of natural causes you deal with them as when any pet dies.
- When chickens stop producing eggs you can decide to have someone process them (kill, clean, and de-feather) for eating.
- Once they start laying, you get one egg per day per chicken. 4 chickens can give you 28 eggs a week, every week, or about 8 dozen eggs each month on average.
- After two years you replace the chickens but don’t need a new coop, so the economics are much better: total cost for years 3 and 4 are $216 vs. egg savings of $500. Plus fun.
Sources of chicks and chickens: Mt. Healthy Hatchery
Source of information and advice: Back Yard Chickens