Picture this: a faint breeze willows your curtains, and you hear soft, contented clucking in the distance. Did you wake up in Little House on the Prairie?
Nope. Just your future backyard-turned-miniature farm with the addition of some backyard chickens. If you want to make this dream a reality, keep reading to learn more about chickens for backyards to help you decide if raising hens is right for you.
Determine If You Can Host and Care for Your Backyard Chickens
When checking your space, you’ll want to ensure that your chickens will have access to at least three square feet of coop space and ten square feet of pen space per adult hen. But that is the absolute bare minimum, and the more you can provide, the better.
You will also need to ensure that you can keep your house chickens safe from your local predators. These will vary depending on where you live, but anything that might enjoy eating a small animal (hawk, fox, etc.) will try to make dinner of your chickens. If you live in an especially hot climate, you’ll have to plan to provide them with plenty of shade and ways to cool down, such as ice blocks.
You will also need to provide high-quality organic chicken feed and the occasional snack in the afternoon. Chickens are grazers, so give them plenty of access to fresh food and water.
Are Chickens for Backyards Allowed?
Even if you have the space and means to keep them safe, you will have to make sure your locality allows chickens for backyards. And if they do, you must comply with those specific ordinances, including rules that limit the number you can raise and whether or not you can sell the eggs.
How Many Chickens?
Hens are social creatures; they will not thrive in an environment void of other chicken souls. This is why you can’t just own one chicken. The absolute minimum number of chickens recommended starting with is at least two or three.
However, for truly happy hens, some recommend starting with six.
Why Do You Want Chickens in the Backyard?
Are you interested in raising chickens for pets? Or do your hopes include plenty of freshly laid eggs? You should answer this question early on in your planning process because it can be the deciding factor in whether you should have backyard chickens.
This is because a hen’s prime laying years are the first few of her life. After that, egg production steadily declines until around middle age, when it is near zero. During the rest of her eight-year-long (or longer) life, you will have a devoted pet companion.
But, if you’re also keen on having a continuous egg harvest, you will have to plan to continue adding chicks to your brood every few years to maintain your desired level of production. That can add up to a lot of chicken pets, so it’s important to plan ahead.
Ready to Live Your Agrarian Dream?
Now that you know more about chickens for backyards and what it takes to raise them, you should assess your situation and determine if it’s right for you. And, if you decide you’re ready, then congratulations! Raising hens is a rewarding endeavor.
There is more to learn! Be sure to explore more informative reads in our Home Improvement section.