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Guest post: Three Things To Ask Yourself Before Getting Backyard Chickens

It’s not hard to see why backyard chicken-keeping has become increasingly popular. Raising chickens comes with a host of benefits — whether it be eggs, meat, or companionship. However, if you’re looking to keep your own flock, there’s a lot to know before you get started. No matter what reason drives you to get chickens, ask yourself the following questions...

This is a guest post from occasional contributor Liz Greene.  Her last post was Bee-Keeping and Happy Neighbours.



1) Is It Legal?
Poultry keeping is regulated at the local, state, and federal levels, and if your property is zoned as residential, you should expect certain restrictions. In addition to zoning regulations, you may also run into restrictive covenants — a clause in your home’s deed establishing constraints on how you’re allowed to use your property. If you’re subject to a restrictive covenant (or other homeowners association rules), you’ll need to determine if there are terms surrounding the keeping of chickens.

Don’t forget to speak with your neighbors before bringing chickens onto your property — it’s common courtesy. It’s likely your neighbors will turn into allies if they’re made aware of your chickens beforehand. Plus, you can always sweeten the deal with fresh eggs as a way to thank them for their patience. Keeping your neighbors informed and happy is so much easier than ending up in small claims court should they decide your chickens are a nuisance.


2) Can You Protect Them From Predators?

Depending on what part of the country you call home, any number of predators may pose a problem for your flock. Coyotes, raccoons, foxes, weasels, birds of prey, opossums, skunks, and snakes — even domestic cats and dogs — are all dangers you may face. It’s not an easy job protecting your chickens from the creatures that want to eat them — and it’s also not cheap.

Securing your chicken coop entails quite a few things. First, it needs to be raised two feet off the ground to keep snakes and skunks from lodging beneath it and stealing eggs, chicks, and pullets. You’ll need to cover all openings in the coop (think windows and vents) with hardware cloth. Your Finally, the coop door will need a sturdy, multiple step lock as raccoons are quite capable of unlatching single step locks and turning door handles.

In order to keep your birds in and predators out, the run should be made of welded-wire mesh, electric netting, or other fencing materials with small openings. If your run doesn’t have a roof, cover it with a wire mesh net to protect your flock from birds of prey. Since some predators are absolutely relentless when trying to get to your chickens, you may want to consider adding some electric fencing to your run. A ground wire placed four to six inches from the bottom of your current fence, a wire along the top (to deter climbing predators), and a 5,000 volt charger will work perfectly to keep danger out.


3) Can You Commit to Their Needs?

Keeping a happy, healthy flock requires of substantial investment of both time and money. The costs of food, a coop and run, as well as protection from weather and predators can add up fast. Just like cats and dogs, chickens require periodic veterinary care for vaccinations, illness, and injuries.

They also live outdoors — which means you have to provide dedicated, consistent care, even when temperatures soar or plummet. Rain, snow, and ice can make going outside seem like a nightmare, but you still have to do it. Requiring daily care also means arranging for alternate care when you’re on vacation or away from your home for a long period of time. Expect to do all of this for up to ten years — that’s how long chickens live.


Keeping backyard chickens can be a real joy — but it can also end in heartache if you’re not adequately prepared. Before you take the plunge, be sure to do tons of research, know everything your chickens will need, and consider what’s best for both you and your family. Only then will you be able to make an informed decision.

What do you think?  What else do you need to consider before you get backyard chickens?




By the way, my chicken eBook is now available if you want to know more about backyard chickens and using chicken tractors.  More information over at the chicken tractor ebook blog.  Or you can get it directly from my shop on Etsy (.pdf format), or Amazon Kindle or just send me an email eight.acres.liz {at} gmail.com.




What's the eBook about?
Chickens in a confined coop can end up living in an unpleasant dust-bowl, but allowing chickens to free-range can result in chickens getting into gardens and expose them to predators.

 A movable cage or “chicken tractor” is the best of both options – the chickens are safe, have access to clean grass, fresh air and bugs. Feed costs are reduced, chickens are happier, and egg production increases. 

 But how do you build a chicken tractor? What aspects should be considered in designing and using a chicken tractor effectively? In this eBook I aim to explain how to make a chicken tractor work for you in your environment to meet your goals for keeping chickens. 

I also list what I have learnt over 10 years of keeping chickens in tractors of various designs and sizes, from hatching chicks, through to butchering roosters.


Reviews of the Design and Use a Chicken Tractor


Comments

  1. It is illegal in my town. But, I got them anyway. The animal control guy said only one of my neighbors could complain. Others in town have chickens on the down low, too. No one cares. One guy had a rooster, just a pet rooster right on the curb.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Point 4 - Is your garden protected from their pecking (smile!)

    ReplyDelete

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Thanks, I appreciate all your comments, suggestions and questions, but I don't always get time to reply right away. If you need me to reply personally to a question, please leave your email address in the comment or in your profile, or email me directly on eight.acres.liz at gmail.com

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