Raising chickens in your backyard can seem like a no-brainer for those of us who enjoy eggs and want to ensure the ethical life of the chickens are maintained to a standard that we’re happy to accept. Relatively cheap to buy and maintain, chickens can become a part of your family which will help manage your green waste and provide a great source of protein and nutrients. But what things do you need to consider when raising chickens? Here’s our suggestions of the top tips for being a better backyard chicken owner.
Don’t skimp out on your coop
No matter where you live, providing your chickens with a good source of shelter is essential to raising happy and healthy chickens. Whether you build or purchase a ready-made option – make sure you get a coop which will fit the number of chickens you’re planning to raise. A common mistake is to start with a smaller coop when you only have a few chickens and then you take on more over time, try to plan for the future as its better to have a coop which is slightly too than slightly too small. Another good rule of thumb is to look at how many chickens you’re allowed to own on your property as some local governments will put restrictions on how many chickens per property or based on the size of your available land.
Your chickens won’t lay eggs when you think they should and that’s OK
Different breeds of chickens will begin to lay eggs at different times so many owners will try to buy breeds which lay quicker so they can start receiving eggs as soon as possible. In reality every chicken is different so you may find they can be several weeks beyond their normal laying time. To ensure you have the best chance of consistent egg laying you need to focus on providing the best stress-free environment for your chickens. By providing a steady stream of food and nutrients, a protected area for them to roam and a warm, secure coop for resting at night or bad weather you will enable your chickens the best opportunity to provide you with an ongoing source of fresh eggs.
Avoid having a rooster in built up areas
Do note that in many local government areas they may either prohibit or strongly advise against owning roosters in a residential area. Greg Murphy, a real estate agent at GM Real Estate in the Adelaide suburb of Salisbury says that noise issues from roosters on neighbouring properties can significantly impact the ability to sell a home which in turn impacts its potential sale value.
Chickens can be smelly and dirty
Put those cartoon and Hollywood perceptions aside as in reality chickens can be incredibly dirty and smelly – they’re animals after all. Chickens will poop anywhere so you will need to constant put down new hay or clear the area as the build-up will continue and attract pests such as flies. Mice will often also build burrows under areas where chickens live as they provide them with a source of food through pellets and even eggs.
So if you’re looking to start raising chickens it can be a positive experience for your household in getting in touch with the reality of where you food comes from. At the same time you do need to manage the day to day work involved with raising chickens so ensure you can commit to this and not take on a burden you can support.