Are you thinking about raising chickens in the backyard as a hobby? More and more people are interested in doing this. If you are wondering how to begin, there are a number of things you should know in order to get off to a good start to make sure it’s a successful experience for both you and the chickens.
The first step before you get started is to check with your local zoning authority and also the Health Department to make sure that keeping backyard chickens is allowed where you live. You can also find out if a permit from the Health Department is required and how you can get one.
In order to succeed raising backyard chickens, it’s important to be prepared and have things planned ahead of time. Consider how many chickens you can reasonably take care of and then determine how much space you will need for them. One chicken per family member is a rule of thumb some advisors give.
Decide where the coops should go. In planning this, you should remember there are noise and odors associated with chicken coops. Also, consider that you will need to care for the chickens daily by feeding, watering, collecting eggs or fertilized chicken eggs and just checking on them. The coops need to be convenient for you as well as comfortable, not too hot or too drafty, for the birds. Make sure you have containers for food and water as well as a good starting supply of feed.
Sanitation is an important consideration for the health of your family and the birds. The coops and the litter should be kept clean. Chickens have a lot of output. Have a plan in place for how you will dispose of the manure. It does not make a good fertilizer because it tends to burn plants.
Consider who can serve to help with care of the chickens for those times when you go on vacation or have to leave town for a few days. If you are hoping for egg production, you will need other supplies as well. Chickens usually lay one egg each day. Brooding hens, as chickens producing eggs are called, need an enclosure, smaller than the coop. They like to sit in a cubbyhole while they are producing an egg. Eggs will need to be collected on a daily basis.
If you start out by getting baby chicks, be aware that they need special care compared to chickens. They are much more susceptible to cold and need a special warm environment. They should have feed specifically intended for baby chicks. Some experts recommend holding them and getting them acclimated to humans as they will grow to be friendly towards people. Even the most even-tempered chickens peck, though, by instinct.
Many people find raising backyard chickens to be a fun and rewarding hobby. Success depends on being informed and prepared about what is involved.