Raising your own chickens is all the rage right now. From celebrities like Oprah and Jennifer Aniston to city dwellers, everyone seems eager to have chickens in their backyards.
If you have recently begun thinking on the same lines, it is probably wise to get some idea about what you’re getting yourself into. You will need some initial investment to build a place for them and buy quality chicken feed for starters.
Raising chickens can be rewarding, but it requires some effort. People keep them as pets, for getting farm-fresh eggs, or for commercial reasons.
As surprising as it might sound, there is a probability that your town or area doesn’t allow citizens to keep or raise chickens. Hence, it is worthwhile to check the local ordinances on the subject.
In some cases, there are partial limitations. For example, you might only be allowed to own a specific number of hens or roosters in some states, cities, or even neighborhoods. You can also contact your homeowner’s association or municipality in case of any doubts.
Space is the next significant factor you need to consider depending upon what you have planned. You should know that chickens are social creatures and hence, require company. So, you should buy at least three chickens for your coop.
Every chicken should get at least four square feet inside the nesting coop or hen house and 10 square feet of open space or in an enclosed run. It would be best if you did not cramp them in a smaller area, as it is unhealthy and might cause diseases in them.
Chickens eat throughout the day in small quantities, and the type of food they eat determines their health, performance, growth, quality of eggs, and egg-laying capacity. Choosing the perfect chicken feed is thus quintessential in this regard.
Commercial chicken feed is specifically designed to meet different requirements. For instance, broiler chickens require much higher protein content in their food. In general, choose something that contains the appropriate amount of protein, amino acids, vitamins, and fibers.
The coop is the place within which the chickens will spend most of their time. So, you must ensure that it is as comfortable and safe as possible. As it might set you back a couple of hundred dollars, you can also opt to build the coop yourself if you’re handy with tools. But if not, call a professional to help you out.
Your coop should have the following sections:
Nesting box – It’s required for the hens to lay their eggs. If you get many hens, keep at least one nesting box for every five hens.
Roosting bar – Chickens prefer sleeping and perching off the ground. You can set up a wooden roosting bar in the coop to give them a better grip than plastic or metal.
Dropping board – It is where the daily manure from the chickens will be collected. You shouldn’t skip this, as a dropping board will make it a lot easier for you to keep the coop clean.
You should be prepared to shell out somewhere between $300 to $500 to get started. The main things that will pinch your pocket are:
- The procurement of the chickens (cost depends upon the breed)
- The building of the coop
- Buying chicken feed