Thursday, May 31, 2012

If You Are Considering Raising Backyard Chickens

The truth about raising backyard chickens. I wanted to share some of my thoughts now that we have been raising chickens for a few months. I am no expert but here is what our experience has been as city chicken owners.

1. Don't embark on this venture unless you have time to devote to it. Raising chicks is time consuming in that the maintenance of the brooder, or their little box, requires you to check on it several times during the day. Cleaning out the water, making sure the bedding is clean, checking that the heat lamp is at a good height. As with any baby animal, the first stage is the most time consuming. Plan on them being in the brooder at least a month give or take. I transitioned them to the coop during the day and brought them in at night for a few weeks. At that point they were too big for the bathroom and I made up a brooder in the garage. Once they were feathered out they started sleeping in the coop.

2. The biggest expense is not the chicks but the coop. Getting it dialed in is a learning curve. We are still making modifications and these all involve my husband as I am not a power tool gal. We went super cheap with the hen house, just an old modified cupboard, but the enclosure he did a nice job on. But you know what? I hate where it is at. I want to see the chickens from my windows so they are getting a new coop for the yard but will still use the bigger run during the day. So you see you really have to think about where you want the coop at.

3. You have to be home to let them out in the mornings or in at night. I choose to have them in their little sleeping box area at night. I sleep better knowing if something crawled into the coop, they would be protected. I let them out at 7:00 a.m. each morning. I am an early riser so no problem.

4. Be prepared to have ups and downs with this venture. I know once a year has passed and our system is in place, things will ease up. I almost died when I saw a rat in the coop. I can kill a spider with my bare hand but I hate vermin. They are after the feed and I now do not put feed in coop except first thing in the morning. After that they get greens in there or a small treat they will eat up right away, they have access to the feed when they are out roaming the backyard and where our cats and rat hunting dog is out with them. We have trapped one and our cat presented us with a rat on the front porch. Cats are invaluable animals in any environment. Our hunter has really decreased the vermin population from when we first moved into this house.

5. If you free range in your yard like me you have to come to terms with the damage the chickens will do to your garden. They have decided my potted plants are their favorite places to nibble. Some are holding up find to this but some are smashed from them sitting in them. I have been wanting to cut down on the number of potted plants in my yard anyway as replanting is expensive every year and the daily watering is laborious. Our summer heat wipes many of them out. I will keep all my pots along our patio by the fountain. They do not jump in these up against the wall. Other than the pots, they seem to not have destroyed anything else. They stir the compost daily and aerate the soil. My foundation plants are big enough, they are holding up well.

6. Chicken poop is a part of chickens. You will have to clean it from the coop and if you free range, your patio, if they have access. I love to let them roam and I have a small yard so hosing down my patio is nothing to me. Takes five minutes. But we are thinking of some cute fencing to deter them. We'll see.
Update: We now have a run and free range time in the yard is limited. This has made the chicken care so much easier and less cleaning up after them.

7. It is so wonderful if you know someone who has chickens, then you can ask them questions when you have concerns. I have been calmed down from many a crisis and realized they were not. These are farm animals, not babies and you have to view them as such. The best advice I have received from her.  Now you will be able to ask me questions.

8. There is so much to say but I want to sum up with this. Yes, this may have sounded a little scary but my intentions are to be totally honest. Who wants something to be sugar coated and then when you try it, you realized there is a difficult side or hard things to deal with. Really the hard stuff is so small. The joy I get from these chickens is crazy. I look forward to seeing them everyday and letting them roam the garden enjoying my greenery and flowers knowing they will repay me daily with wonderful, golden eggs.

**Update: We now have two bantam hens and two buff orpingtons and they are a great fit for our yard and since we enclosed a large run we now no longer allow free ranging time except in small doses because of our small yard and the damage the hens did to our garden and lawn. We couldn't be happier with the breed. They have proved to be more quiet and very content chickens. I think I will always have chickens as long as I live where they are allowed.


  1. Interesting post. I havn't had chickens, so I was so unaware of all that is required. Love those eggs though. Hugs, Marty

  2. It's been fun to read about you becoming a first time chicken mamma :)
    I think you've done a great job, and it's awfully nice of you to pass along advice to others that may have not had chickens before.

    Just wait until they start to lay.
    It's so much fun to collect those eggs!

    Smiles :)

  3. When my daughter adopts her rescue chickens out, she makes a point of giving them that information. Puppies chew, kittens claw and chickens poop. It's great that you shared the facts, along with the rewards! ~ Maureen

  4. Looks like your endevor is going well. love the picture of their 3 little butts in the air as they munch away!

  5. I have been tossing around the idea of chickens for a long time now. Thanks for sharing all this. THings you dont think about until after you take the leap!

    Carmen and the Primcats

  6. I think you gave an excellent post on raising city chickens, I love the last photo of them with their little butts in the air, so cute.
    We raised chickens on the farm and I never had the relationship you have with them, yours are very pampered chickens in deed, lucky lucky chickens they are!

  7. I'd love to keep chickens but can't here in the suburbs. I'm enjoying reading your posts about keeping chickens. Thanks for sharing!


  8. Our schedules are not predictable enough for chickens so I will just have my fowl adventure through you and your blog. Thanks.

  9. I think you have succinctly put all of the important points in this post. Very well done. As a chicken owner myself, I do know the ups and downs and also the joy of owning chickens. ;-)

  10. We even have the 18 x 71 ' enclosed pen, and I've been so tempted to get chickens. But I have a German Shepherd. I cannot imagine him leaving them alone. Maybe guinea fowl would be better. I hear they are better fliers and would stand a better chance of escaping.

  11. It's true there is an amount of labor involved but like you said the rewards outweigh that. I discovered that a mouse had babies in a tucked away area in the coop, they were so well hidden that the chickens did not even see them there. Well when we coaxed them out into the open to catch them one of the chickens grabbed hold of a tail of one of the babies and was running around the enclosure with it. It totally grossed me out and made me laugh at the same time. Chickens are a delight to have and a continuous source of entertainment and I can't imagine not having them.