Having chickens in your backyard is a fun time. Chickens are playful and active, and raising them is an exciting hobby that’s relatively straightforward. However, here are five things to know before raising chickens to help ease you into the experience and ensure your time with these feathered friends is an enjoyable one.
1. Can You Keep Chickens?
Before you start drawing up plans for a coop and looking for the best deal on chicken wire, it’s a smart idea to check the laws and rules in your area regarding keeping chickens or other livestock on your property. If you live in a housing community, they may have their own animal rules, so ensure you’re allowed to raise chickens before making any concrete plans.
2. You Need the Right Number of Chickens
Chickens are incredibly social animals, so one of the biggest mistakes newcomers make is thinking that a single chicken is all that they need. If you get only one chicken, it will require a lot more care and attention to keep it occupied. We recommend between three to six chickens for those starting out, as they’ll do a fine job keeping each other entertained.
3. Proper Coop Size
There are many vital products you need for your livestock, and the coop is an essential part of raising chickens. This small structure is where they’ll sleep and feel comfortable and safe. Whether you build or buy your coop, you want to ensure your chickens have enough space. A good coop should have three to five square feet of floor space for each bird and about eight inches of roost bar space.
4. Egg Expectations
Many people raise chickens with the expectation of a non-stop source of eggs. Many healthy hens will lay one egg a day for most of the year, but as you enter autumn and winter, when your hens start molting, you may notice fewer eggs. Many hens also lay eggs consistently for only two to three years before they start laying fewer eggs. If you want a steady supply of eggs for years to come, you may need some roosters to help fertilize some of the eggs and bring in new generations.
5. Chickens Are Delicious Treats for Predators
One of the most important things to know before raising chickens is that they’re delicious. Chickens are flightless birds that move relatively slowly compared to other prey, making them an ideal target for foxes, coyotes, raccoons, and other potential predators. We highly suggest keeping your birds’ safety in mind when designing their coop and when you let your birds wander around. It’s a good idea to take precautions against exterior threats.