Chickens

Backyard Chickens – An Introduction to Raising Chickens in the Backyard

Backyard Chickens

With people becoming concerned about where their food comes from, urban backyard chicken farming is growing in popularity. Chickens are easy farm animals to keep. There are benefits and drawbacks to raising your own chickens. I hope, this website will answer any questions.

Benefits

Fresh Eggs – The idea of having fresh eggs anytime you want them is usually the main reason for raising chickens. With having your own chickens, you know what food they eat and how they are cared for. When chickens have access to a natural and varied diet with lots of fresh air and sunshine, they produce a healthier, tastier egg. Your eggs are larger than store-bought eggs and have a firm yolk. Feeding your chickens cracked corn and greens will make the yolks richer and oyster shell helps toughen the shells and makes peeling easier when eggs are boiled.Productive laying hens will produce 3 to 5 eggs each week with the highest yield during summer months. With shorter days during winter, egg production will drop back or stop.

Pest Control – Having chickens in your yard is great pest control. They love bugs of all kinds, grasshoppers, tomato worms, caterpillars, beetles and ticks.  They will eat most vegetation so you want to make sure they don’t have access to your garden or flower beds.  In the spring, place your chickens in the garden area to get it ready for planting. Their pecking and scratching helps rid your garden of weed seeds and grubs while loosening the top soil.

Fertilizer – Chicken manure makes a good fertilizer for vegetables, trees, flowers or fruit. I like adding the chicken droppings and the straw from the chicken coop, directly to my compost pile. There is no need to age chicken manure like you do horse or cow manure and since chicken droppings won’t burn your plants, you can put the used straw into your garden.

Pets – Chickens are excellent pets. Breeds like the Cochins, Orpingtons or Silkies are good for this.

My two favorite animals together!

Meat – Like eggs, raising your own chickens will provide a healthier, tastier food source. You can use roosters or hens for meat. Your best choice for meat chickens is Orpingtons and Plymouth Rocks. Both are large chickens making them a popular choice with farmers raising meat chickens.

Drawbacks

Odor – When you think of backyard chicken farming, the first thing that comes to mind is the smell and noise. This isn’t a problem if you care for them properly. Keeping your chicken coop clean and changing the bedding often keeps the smell minimal. Noise is an issue if you have roosters; hens cluck and squawk but are much quieter. You don’t need a rooster in the flock since hens will lay eggs without one. You only need a rooster if you plan to hatch your own chicks.

Eggs – While nothing beats a fresh egg, they do require work. Eggs must be gathered daily; you never want an egg to sit for more than 48 hours. Plus, if you don’t gather eggs regularly, the hens will not produce more; they will nest instead.

Zoning – Before you start buying building supplies and the chicks, you need to check with your city or region. Your city may not allow farm animals in residential areas or you might need a special permit. If your city does allow chickens, then there will be a maximum number you’re allowed to keep.

Source – Finding a source for chickens, may be difficult. Start by checking with any farm stores in or near your city. You can also look on Craigslist, and the local want ads. Ordering by mail is an option, but you will need to take care of them. Chicks are shipped when one day old. They need to be indoors in a warm area for two months. Several hatcheries have online ordering and use expedited shipping to your door. When looking for a source, you want to make sure the breeders are reputable, and you are getting healthy chickens.

Once you decide to raise chickens, the next step is building an enclosure. Even if your chickens free-range, I recommend a building where they can nest and take cover in inclement weather. Chicken coops are easy to build and fairly inexpensive. We built ours with used lumber recycled, wood pallets and a good set of chicken coop plans.

Backyard chicken farming is a great introduction to raising livestock for people with limited experience. Chickens are easy to care for and need minimal space. Besides the benefits I listed above, chickens are fun to watch and great education for the kids.

Portable Chicken Coop