Raising chickens can be both emotionally and financially rewarding. Few things are cuter than tiny little yellow chicks chirping in your backyard, nor more satisfying than watching them grow into strong, healthy hens. And when they start to lay their first eggs, that’s when the real fun begins as you can enjoy the most wonderfully tasty and nutritious eggs fresh to your table, each and every day. Although raising chicken’s is not hard, there’s lots to know about these wonderful creatures to ensure you have all the tools to keep your birds healthy and happy. Over the next few months we’ll bring you a series of articles with tips and insights designed to give you an overview, to kindle your desire for a backyard flock and get you started on your poultry journey. So…
First things first – location, location, location!
An important question to ask before you invest time and money in preparing for a new flock is whether you are permitted to keep chickens where you live. Many cities and towns have embraced the benefits of backyard flocks; however, this is not the case everywhere. Talk with your city or town representatives to ensure that keeping chickens would not breach any local laws. Ask important questions such as do you need a permit? How many chickens can you keep? Are both hens and roosters acceptable? Are there rules on where the coop can be located? It’s also a good idea to check with your neighbours that they don’t have any major objections. Perhaps tempt them with the prospect of farm fresh eggs delivered to their door! Who could resist?!
Do you have enough space?
It’s also important to ensure that you have enough space to raise healthy, happy chickens. Once they are fully grown, each bird will need a minimum of 4 square feet of indoor space and 5–10 square feet of outdoor space. And the space you have will influence the number of birds you will be able to accommodate in your flock. The numbers of birds to plan for will also be influenced by your goals and why you are looking to start to raise hens in your back yard. Are you looking to have enough eggs for your family’s needs, or would you like to start to provide your local community with delicious fresh eggs every day? Or will your new feathered friends simply be another fun family member, independent of any egg-laying abilities? Once you have decided upon your goals, evaluated how much space you have for your hens and confirmed that you are permitted by local laws to become the custodian of new backyard feathered friends, the next decision to make is whether to purchase mature hens, pullets or newly hatched chicks. In our next article, we help you decide.