Raising backyard chickens
Whether you live in the city or the suburbs, raising chickens in your own backyard is becoming downright trendy.
As the Washington Post noted in a 2009 article, “In cities across the United States, raising backyard poultry has suddenly become as chic as growing your own vegetables. It’s all part of the back-to-the-land movement whose proponents want to save on grocery bills, take control of their food supply and reduce the carbon footprint of industrial agriculture.”
Some of the bonuses of raising free-range chickens chickens include having free, fresh, organic eggs — plus they serve as a chemical-free form of pest control for your yard.
And hey — if you’re getting a rooster? You won’t need an alarm clock anymore.
Some of the benefits of backyard chickens
As the City of San Diego realizes that there are many benefits that come with backyard chickens. To name but a few:
- A healthy adult hen generally lays up to 300 eggs a year. Five hens would supply approximately 30 eggs a week which would meet the needs of a typical family of four.
- Backyard eggs contain 25 percent more vitamin E, 33 percent more vitamin A, and 75 percent more beta carotene.
- Home raising reduces the need for transporting eggs from farm/factory to store to home, resulting in a reduction in carbon emissions and packaging materials.
- Chicken manure can be added to compost piles or used directly as a fertilizer when tilled into the soil.
- Many people benefit from knowing that the chickens are raised and fed in humane conditions.
Is it legal to raise backyard chickens on your property?
If you’re not on a farm and are considering raising chickens, the first thing is to check out the laws in your city, town or county to see if you’re even allowed to have livestock in your yard.
Fortunately, this is usually as easy as visiting your local municipal site — many of which are listed here. There may be various ordinances — not just whether or not you can keep chickens, but how many you can have, how many roosters you can keep (if any — the cocks are noisy), how big your yard needs to be, etc.
Important things to consider before you start to raise backyard chickens
Are you ready to keep chickens? Questions to ask yourself
- Do you have time to raise chickens, and to maintain their food and environment daily?
- Will your other pets pose a danger or a problem to the chickens?
- Will young children have contact with the birds? Live poultry may transmit Salmonella germs, even when they appear healthy and clean.
- Do you have enough space to dedicate to keeping a flock safe in your backyard?
- Can you afford to build or buy a chicken coop and/or nesting boxes?
- How will you deal with sanitation and manure management?
- Will your neighbors mind if you keep chickens?
- Since it’s not practical to take chickens to a boarding facility, so do you have a plan for who will chicken-sit for you if you go out of town?
What do you need to know? Seek answers to these questions
- What are the best chicken breeds for your situation?
- How do you handle birds?
- What do chickens eat, how much do they need, and where would you get their food?
- How much space do you need, and where will you get a coop?
- What are the daily care requirements?
- What extra things do you need to do to have good production?
- Where do you buy chicks, and how many chickens should you have?
See 10 tips for raising backyard chickens to get some insight on these questions, and a lot more information on the topic of raising your own poultry.
In addition to checking out our article 10 tips for raising backyard chickens, you can be sure that there are multiple sites dedicated to the pursuit of eggs and clucking creatures with feathers. Here are some we liked that feature both information and community:
And, for good more insight, here are a few more sources you can check out:
- Raising Chickens for Eggs
- My Pet Chicken
- Success with Poultry
- Henderson’s Chicken Breed Chart