Saturday, June 18, 2011

Want Free Range Eggs? Get Backyard Chickens!

A year ago our family decided we needed chickens in the backyard and I'm so glad we did. They have been really fun to have around! Chickens' small space requirements and pleasant dispositions make them a wonderful addition to any backyard. Here are some of the great things about keeping chickens:

  • You always have fresh eggs even when you don't have the time (or $) to go shopping.
  • You know exactly what quality your eggs are and what the chickens were fed. 
  • It's really fun for the kids and a great learning experience.
  • They are very entertaining to watch peck around the yard.
  • Chickens like to eat bugs which will keep the pests away from your house.
  • Chicken poop makes an awesome fertilizer. 

So what exactly does keeping chickens entail? The very first thing you need to do if you live in an urban area is check your local ordinances. That can be done online at websites such as The City Chicken but the best thing to do is call your city and ask.

You can usually find day old chicks at local farm and feed stores in the spring but you can also order them online from sites such as My Pet Chicken or Chickens for Backyards. You'll want to get at least one layer for each member in your family.

photo by jurvetson

For the first 60 days the chicks will need to be kept in a brooder. This is essentially a box or smaller cage with bedding and a warming light. More information about raising baby chicks and brooders can be found here.         
Next your going to need a coop. You can build it yourself or buy one already assembled. How big you make it depends on how many chickens you plan to have and whether they will free range during the day or have a enclosed run area. The most important thing is that you provide a comfortable home that will keep them safe from predators and the elements. 

Daily upkeep includes feeding and watering them, collecting the eggs and locking them safe in the coop at night. The coop will need to be cleaned about once a week. Then sit back and enjoy your hens.

For more information about raising and keeping chickens:

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  1. This makes me want to raise a few chickens myself!!!!! I think I probably will someday soon. Its not a good idea NOW for for a guy who wants to travel around the world at age 23... :)

    But, when I approach 30 or so and am ready to "settle down" I will raise chickens.

  2. Your right its probably not a good idea if you want to travel a lot. But traveling sounds like a lot of fun also. I wish I would have done more of that before I settled down. Oh well there's always after the kids grow up :)

  3. I can't wait to have a yard and get my own chickens...too cool!

  4. I have chicken in my yard :)